CRAVINS AD HIGHLIGHTS BOUSTANY’S DISABILITY CHECKS
Don Cravins Jr. has opened up a new front in the 7th District Congressional race, highlighting the more than $800,000 incumbent Charles Boustany has collected in medical disability payments over the past four years. A retired heart surgeon, Boustany ended his medical career prior to being elected to Congress in 2004 after developing arthritis in his hands and neck. He collects monthly payments from a surgeon’s disability insurance policy he paid into for years.
Cravins’ latest campaign ad is titled “Ably Disabled” and opens by highlighting the fact Boustany collects some $20,000 a month in disability checks while earning $150,000 a year as a congressman. The ad then goes on to note that Boustany was “enabled enough” to bring in $350,000 in campaign contributions from big oil and drug companies and to vote for $7,500 in congressional pay raises while voting against the minimum wage increase. Congress members receive annual pay adjustments based on a formula for cost-of-living increases. The increases are automatic, unless voted down by Congress. Following the 2008 adjustment, members annual salary will be $169,300. Boustany’s congressional office did not reply to a request this morning to respond to the ad.
Each point made in Cravins’ ad is driven home with the refrain “That’s bad. Boustany’s got to geaux,” delivered by some of Cravins’ supporters. Cravins insists the point of the ad is not to insinuate any abuse of the disability insurance system. “We’re not doubting his disability,” Cravins says. “I’m not qualified to make that determination. Our intent was to show this guy’s making a whole lot of money and yet he’s got the audacity to vote against working people.”
BOUSTANY OUTSPENDING CRAVINS TWO TO ONE ON TV
This month, Congressman Charles Boustany has launched his re-election campaign ads in heavy rotation. The ads, which began airing the first of the month, advocate energy reform and expanded offshore drilling, as well as Boustany’s efforts on behalf of hurricane victims and farmers.
Records show Boustany is currently outspending his opponent, Don Cravins Jr., more than 2 to 1 on TV spots. According to TV station ad buys, Cravins’ campaign ads were down for the first week of the month. He has since come back with a $14,095 ad buy to run his “Ably Disabled” commercial, critical of Boustany, from Oct. 8-13 on KATC. Cravins’ campaign is also up again with a $9,000 ad buy on KPLC in Lake Charles. Boustany’s campaign spent $30,340 on ads running on KATC through the first two weeks of October and $37,000 for the same period on KPLC. KLFY reports that to date Boustany spent a total of $101,945 on ads while the Cravins’ campaign ad buys total $31,515. Cravins’ campaign downplays the significanct of this, noting its ads began running almost a month before Boustany’s.
MELANCON: TAX CHANGES MAKE BAILOUT MORE BEARABLE
Lost in the controversial legislation tossing a $700 billion life preserver to Wall Street was a significantly smaller provision that could help flood and hurricane victims stay afloat during their own recovery. The new federal law allows Louisiana families who suffered property damage from hurricanes Gustav and Ike, as well victims from the recent flooding in the Midwest, to claim thousands of dollars more in deductions on their taxes. The break, included by the Senate, changes the way the casualty-loss tax formula is applied to the current year.
It’s a silver lining to an otherwise tough vote for Rep. Charlie Melancon, a Napoleonville Democrat who represents portions of Acadiana. According to a Rasmussen Reports poll, 44 percent of Americans opposed the bailout. Back home in Louisiana, editorial writers chastised the proposal as corporate welfare, and constituents sounded off on talk radio about what was in it for them. Lawmakers on the Hill referred to it as a “legacy vote” and many facing re-election – Melancon is unopposed this year – took care to oppose the measure. Louisiana’s own congressional delegation was also split on the vote.
Faced with the reality that the nation’s financial markets were broken and possibly dragging the country into a recession, Melancon, who bills himself as a fiscally-conservative Blue Dog Democrat, says he had no choice but to support the package. “This rescue called for a hefty investment from all of us, but it only earned my vote when significant steps were taken to guarantee taxpayers weren’t stuck with the bill,” Melancon says.
Moreover, Melancon says he was swayed by the support included for hurricane victims, especially in light of the out-of-pocket costs some of his constituents were facing. In particular, coastal residents have been shocked to find a special hurricane deductible on their policies that is a percentage of a home’s insured value, rather than the traditional deductible of $500 or $1,000. “After Katrina and Rita, many families in south Louisiana saw their named-storm insurance deductibles climb dramatically,” Melancon says. “If you lost a roof during Gustav, chances are you’re faced with a very big repair cost and very little help from your insurance company. This tax change will help a lot of folks in this situation recoup a few thousand dollars at tax time.”
Previously, taxpayers would only be able to claim a deduction on property damage (incurred in a federally declared disaster area) that exceeded 10 percent of their adjusted gross income — minus $100. Under the National Disaster Relief section of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, they will now be able to claim all the damage that exceeds $500, with no consideration of adjusted gross income.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.