GOP attacks Landrieu vote
by jordan blum
Advocate Washington bureau
March 24, 2013
Republicans in the Louisiana congressional delegation wasted little time in mounting personal attacks against Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., for her vote to extend income tax cuts for all those except the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. Republicans want to extend the tax cuts for everyone.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., got the ball rolling in his announcement of his vote against the tax-cut plan backed by President Barack Obama and a majority of the Senate.
Referring to her only as “Mary,” Vitter wrote, “(Fifty-one) Democrats including Mary voted to raise hundreds of billions of dollars of taxes on them — not only because 75 percent of all small businesses pay taxes through the individual rates, but because the death tax on family businesses would go up enormously.”
Not long afterward, Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, added to the attack by writing, “Mary Landrieu voted yesterday to stand with President Obama in raising taxes, just as she warned she would earlier this month.”
Landrieu is backing the $250,000 income threshold for households as the cutoff for maintaining the tax cuts. But she has said she could support a higher threshold in the future as more funds become available.
Vitter snipes at Newhouse
Vitter also took shots this past week at the ownership of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans and the direction the newspaper is heading.
After it was made public that New Orleans Saints and Hornets owner Tom Benson is leading an effort to try to buy the newspaper, Vitter wrote to the paper’s owner, Advance Publications Chairman Steve Newhouse, urging him to sell.
The Times-Picayune has laid off hundreds of employees and is switching to publishing only three times a week. Newhouse has repeatedly said the paper is not for sale.
“Maybe you truly believe that your new model for the Times-Picayune will serve the region well,” Vitter wrote. “I do not. More importantly, no citizen of the region whom I’ve spoken to about this does. And I literally mean no one.”
Vitter added, “You have a terribly inadequate digital platform which has actually gotten worse since your announcement.”
And he closed with, “From a pure business perspective, you’re about to get smoked. The Advocate and others are moving in to fill the void you are creating. And TP subscribers, including me, will be eager to cheer them on by trading our subscriptions.”
The Advocate announced last week its plans to expand into the New Orleans area.
Ports and rivers project
Several member of the Louisiana congressional delegation made recent pushes for port and river projects in the state.
Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, wrote to President Obama urging him to support his DREDGE Act legislation to deepen river depths near Louisiana’s ports in preparation for the 2014 Panama Canal expansion.
“As you know, there are no ports along the Gulf of Mexico and only a handful on the East Coast that can accept the larger vessels that will be traveling through the expanded Panama Canal,” Richmond wrote.
“Together, the five ports along the Lower Mississippi River (the ports of St. Bernard, Plaquemine, New Orleans, South Louisiana and Baton Rouge) make up the largest port complex in the world.
“More than 1,800 cargo vessels with a draft of 40 feet or more transit the Mississippi River each year and cargo activity within the Port of New Orleans also generates $2.8 billion in federal taxes each year.”
Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, next released a statement asking Obama for more dredging in Louisiana.
Boustany also touted his RAMP Act legislation that would direct more federal funding to port and dredging projects nationwide.
Some of the RAMP Act language was signed into law as part of the federal transportation bill, but most of the teeth of the bill were taken out before it reached Obama’s desk.
“I am concerned with the maintenance and infrastructure issues facing our state’s ports and harbors,” Boustany stated. “Challenged by narrowing travel channels as a result of inadequate dredging, many vessels are seeking other avenues of commerce.”
Lastly, Vitter touted the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approving a resolution to study deepening the depths at Port Fourchon in Lafourche Parish.
“Keeping the depths at proper levels is absolutely critical to allow the port to continue servicing our nation’s energy economy and the many Louisiana jobs associated with it,” Vitter stated.
“The depths are currently outdated, and my resolution is a huge step forward to keeping Port Fourchon viable so it can keep our economy moving.”
Compiled by Jordan Blum, chief of The Advocate Washington bureau. His email address is email@example.com.