Menu

President's View: The Gracious Host

Tags: talking points, speech, obama, nfip, new orleans, fema, epa

Stephen Waguespack, LABI president.

Welcome to Louisiana, Mr. President.

Louisiana is known for many things, and being a gracious host is one of them. We open our homes to our fellow man in times of emergency. We open our hearts and wallets to our community, time and time again, whenever there is a need. And, of course, we open our tailgates and parties to anyone looking to pass a good time. We are that type of people.

In appreciation and respect for this culture we so proudly create here in Louisiana, I thought I would put together some talking points for the President’s writers to use for his big speech in New Orleans Friday to discuss the economy. I know keeping track of different issues in all 50 states can be exhausting so, to make it easy for a successful trip, there are a few salient points that can make the speech a home run and smashing hit.

I would begin by humbly suggesting it is important to frame these types of speeches with a powerful statistic or message so folks clearly understand what you are trying to accomplish. Luckily, the US Census Bureau served up that stat earlier this week with a report showing more people in America are on welfare than those that have full-time jobs. The numbers show that 108.6 million people are on government programs while 101.7 million people have full time jobs. He should announce in Louisiana that it is our nation’s economic “Apollo mission” to reverse the trend that is hurting families and suffocating the promise of American ingenuity.

The first way to reverse this trend is through educating our children, especially those who live in poverty and are stuck in failing schools. Therefore, the easy talking point I would give the President is to announce that he is ordering his Department of Justice to stop their lawsuit against Louisiana’s voucher system. This program is helping poor children stuck in failing schools choose better educational options and the DOJ is trying to stop it. If the President were to visit with the parents that have chosen to use the voucher program and tell them he will finally pull back his lawyers from taking that choice away, it will be well received in those communities.

The second recommendation is that he demand FEMA and Congress stop the drastic impact that flood insurance premium increases are going to have on Louisiana. This will hit our small businesses, lenders and individual homeowners bluntly unless Congress and the administration step in to stop it. The perception by many in Washington is this is just an issue for vacation homeowners with the means to handle it, but nothing could be further from the truth. These property owners followed the law, and are now unfairly targeted for extinction. This is an economic calamity for Louisiana if left unaddressed and the President should lead on this issue.

The next advice I would give him is to announce he is pulling back his bureaucrats at the EPA from using agency regulations to implement radical restrictions on energy that will threaten Louisiana jobs. We know that in Louisiana manufacturing alone employs 139,000 people and accounts for 64 percent of our total exports. These jobs and investments are especially at risk with his agency’s actions. If he were to visit one of our facilities and let our workers know that he will not sit idly by and watch his agency send their jobs overseas, that will be a real crowd-pleaser of a speech.

Lastly, I would recommend he save the big bang for last. Just this week, Insurance Commissioner Donelon said that 93,000 people in Louisiana will not be able to keep their current insurance because of Obamacare. It goes without saying that the loss of this type of coverage will not help the economic outlook for those families. I think the President should announce, here on Louisiana soil, that he will not stand for this and will support efforts to undo the harm Obamacare does ,and implement a market-based system that will provide competitive options and prices for coverage.

Those simple points would be a big hit and the best part about it is they are all in his control. Pull back DOJ lawyers and let poor families stuck in failing schools enjoy educational choice. Call in FEMA map drafters and require them to assess risk more accurately. Step in, and stop EPA bureaucrats from decimating manufacturing and energy jobs, and instead work with Congress on a sensible approach. Walk away from his blind allegiance to Obamacare and instead tell the American people he wants to work on a solution that is market based, focused on outcomes, and fair to taxpayers.

I hope he hits all these simple points. As a gracious host, I felt compelled to lay out this simple blueprint for him to have a fantastic visit. I look forward to hearing the big speech. 

Stephen Waguespack
About the Author

Stephen Waguespack

Stephen Waguespack is the president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, the largest and most effective advocacy organization in the state.

As the president of LABI since 2013, Stephen has kept the organization focused on its No. 1 priority — strengthening opportunities for companies of all sizes to operate in an environment that promotes growth and economic development. Acting on LABI’s mission to amplify the voice of the business community, Stephen has prioritized traveling throughout the state to strengthen partnerships with LABI’s 2,500 members, as well as local chambers of commerce and key stakeholders.

Building off LABI’s strong 40-year record of accomplishments in Louisiana, Stephen has worked to also enhance the association’s focus on federal issues, research, policy, as well as member engagement through technological advancements. In the most recent legislative session, this approach led to great success at the state Capitol for both the LABI team and its reform partners, specifically in lawsuit, workforce, and education reform. With nearly 20 years of experience in federal and state politics, Stephen has earned a reputation as an active voice for reform policy in Louisiana. In addition to numerous personal outreach efforts, he writes a weekly political column that runs in publications throughout the state.

Prior to joining LABI, Stephen served as special counsel and director of the multi-state Governmental Relations practice for Jones Walker, a Louisiana-based law firm. Stephen also served in several different roles for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, including chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, executive counsel, and policy director, where he was a top administration advisor and advocate on numerous policy and political issues. Before joining the Jindal administration, he spent 10 years on Capitol Hill, where he worked for The Alpine Group and as a policy advisor to Texas Congressman Joe Barton.

He also formerly served as a member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. In that role, he worked with his colleagues to promote accountability, performance measures and parental choice in our schools.

Stephen holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University as well as a law degree from The Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Stephen and his wife Colleen have three sons and live in Baton Rouge.