He is optimistic about Louisiana’s future, but former Gov. Buddy Roemer said the federal government needs serious reform, including limits and full disclosure of political contributions.
“Washington is not broken, it’s bought,” Roemer told state and local officials and business leaders Friday at the annual Legis-Gator Luncheon hosted by the Chamber Southwest Louisiana. “We’re a nation in trouble.”
Roemer criticized federal lawmakers’ reliance on large contributions from businesses and political action committees. He said some of those problems could be fixed by reporting contributions within 48 hours; having PAC contributions be the same as individual contributions; and preventing outgoing congressmen from lobbying Congress for five years after leaving office.
Roemer said the country’s two greatest threats are ignorance and corruption, “when a big check stands first in line,” instead of needs or ideas. “America, to me, looks like Louisiana did 25 years ago,” he said.
Roemer said the country should also address rising unemployment and its trade policy with countries like China. He said the tax code is “unreadable and unfair.”
“(General Electric) can make $15.2 billion and pay not one penny in federal income taxes,” Roemer said. “We have a budget that’s not balanced and won’t be for the next 20 years. We have a debt that cannot be sustained.”
Roemer, who served as Louisiana’s governor from 1988 to 1992, praised several former state lawmakers from Southwest Louisiana who served during his term, including Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach, Dennis and Tim Stine, Vic Stelly and William McLeod.
Roemer, president and CEO of Business First Bank in Baton Rouge, had an unsuccessful presidential bid this year.
During the event, House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, received the chair’s award and Sen. Elbert Guillory, D-Opelousas, received the Legis-Gator of the Year award.
The luncheon was held at L’Auberge Casino Resort.