Waguespack: Turning the page on 2015

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The final week of 2015 is upon us. It was a notable year in many ways, confusingly defined by our contradictions just as much as our similarities. Our sports teams were underachievers, though Les Miles somehow came out with more job security than ever before.

In contrast, the Democratic candidate for Governor was an overachiever, finding a way to win by twelve points in a red state while blue states in the South went the other direction. Hillary Clinton cannot find a credible Democrat to run against, while the GOP frontrunner is Donald Trump, who until this election actively supported both Bill and Hillary Clinton political efforts throughout the years.

Stephen Waguespack is President of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.
Stephen Waguespack is President of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

Terrorism remains America’s most obvious direct threat, though an overregulated and mismanaged national economy is quietly just as large of a problem. Low oil prices at the pump are helping consumers but killing Louisiana’s energy-related industries, while low natural gas prices are saving Louisiana manufacturing jobs but slowing down in-state production.

State government budgets are getting all the attention, while family, small business and industrial budgets are getting squeezed without much fanfare. Deficits, regulations, taxes and political gamesmanship dominate the headlines in Washington DC, while in Baton Rouge….well, we see much of the same here at home.

Yep, 2015 was memorable in many ways but hard to figure out. Did the lessons we learned this year become the new norm or will they be viewed in time as just a blip on the radar? Did any of these lessons even make sense? Hard to say, but regardless, it is time to move on to a new year with new challenges and unrealized potential.

Before we turn that page once and for all on 2015, I thought it useful to do a little last minute shopping and pass out a few belated Christmas gifts and suggest some new year’s resolutions for our leaders to consider. Governor-Elect (now Governor) John Bel-Edwards- The gift of a 25th hour and 8th day for every day and week respectively in 2016. Even in times overflowing with surpluses and void of contentiousness, the work is never done in a Governor’s office.

In times of deficits and disagreements, time management is even more critical. The extra time will be a big help for a big job. As for a suggested new year’s resolution, this one should be simple: to govern in accordance to the same principles that he campaigned on. The principles articulated in his campaign were obviously well received by Louisiana voters, such as being inclusive to policymakers and stakeholders with competing visions for Louisiana, governing as a bipartisan centrist, opposing harmful tax increases, identifying efficiencies in spending, and opposing efforts to water down previous education and legal reforms already on the books. These principles were a successful part of his 2015 campaign message and will be just as useful in 2016 as a part of his first year in office.

Outgoing Governor Bobby Jindal – The gift of multi-faceted driving lessons. Not only will he be regularly driving a car around town for the first time in years (texting and driving was a rarity last he was behind the wheel, but unfortunately commonplace now), but he will also have more free time to play a little golf in his new neighborhood. My guess is his driving game from the tee box is just as rusty as his skills on the road. As for resolutions, I recommend he resolve to dive headfirst back in policy. As a young intern, he first got on Governor Mike Foster’s radar through articulate policy analysis of the Medicaid program. Since that time, he has always been at his strongest and most persuasive when neck deep in policy. Some good, old-fashioned policy wonkiness in 2016 would be a productive way to refresh and rekindle those roots.

LSU Coach Les Miles – I give him a Powerball ticket and beg him to share any winnings with me. Considering his well-proven luck and Midas touch, there is no doubt that ticket will be a big winner. I can only assume his resolution is the same one he has had for the past five years, but hopefully in 2016, that resolution will finally come true November 5th on Saturday night in Baton Rouge.

I am sure there are more gifts that should have been given, but there is always next year to make amends. Ready or not, 2016 is here. 2015 is now officially one for the history books, though only time will tell how that history will be remembered.

Stephen Waguespack is President of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. Stephen Waguespack is President of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.