Kathleen Blanco’s very personal appeal for Mary Landrieu

By Robert Mann

It’s no surprise to me that former Gov. Kathleen Blanco is supporting Sen. Mary Landrieu for re-election. What is interesting is how Blanco is sharing that support — in a lengthy, heartfelt, personal letter to a group of friends and families which she emailed Tuesday.

SLU_BlancoIn particular, I was drawn to Blanco’s very good defense of Landrieu’s vote for the Affordable Care Act.

As governor I spent a great deal of time and effort to find ways to control the ever spiraling increases in health care costs. We live in a country that will not stand by while people die in the streets for lack of health insurance, so state and federal governments provide access to a base level of care.

 In Louisiana where 21.7%, over one-fifth of our people, work at low paying jobs that offer no health insurance, it becomes obvious why something had to be done to stop the bleeding. That means 866,000 people in Louisiana relied on Charity Hospitals (which no longer function the same way) for their care. All states get federal subsidies to help with care for the uninsured but here in Louisiana we could not get ahead of our problems.

The Affordable Care Act, which Mary voted for, is designed to help people with modest incomes buy private health insurance with decent coverage. It is made affordable with tax subsidies. That is no different than allowing companies to write off the costs of insurance provided to employees.

Over 100,000 in our state are now insured thru this program and pay an average $83 per month. 198,000 more are eligible, but probably do not know it. The rest earn too little for that program but would be covered in a different way.

If Governor Jindal would come to his senses and allow our the lowest income earning segment of our work force to become eligible for Medicaid, 100% would be covered by the federal government for 3 years, and 90% thereafter. (The state only gets 67% of current Medicaid help from the federal government.) Most governors, Democrats and Republicans, across the country have done this, so our federal tax dollars are helping out of state folks. We could bring hundreds of thousands off the roles of the uninsured and save tax payers incredible amounts on health care.

There are several moving parts that benefit all of us. Our children can now remain on parents’ policies until they are 26, if necessary. No longer can anyone be denied health insurance for pre-existing conditions, which was a huge problem for many. And insurance companies may no longer keep exorbitant profits. They must spend 80% of the money they earn on direct coverage, returning excess profits to their customers, and thereby lowering costs for all (while still allowing those insurers a healthy 20% margin of profit).

This is a vast improvement over the crippled system we were all paying dearly for in direct taxes and higher insurance costs for ourselves, whether we knew it or not.   I personally thank Mary Landrieu for her vote. I want her to go back to the Senate to continue improving the program so it works even better. 

Read the entire letter below:

Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

Louisiana Governor 2004-2008

 

Dear Family and Friends,

As you all know, I have usually refrained at election time from requesting your consideration for any particular candidate or candidates and have never sent a letter out. But today I think so much is at stake in Louisiana I have decided it is critical for me to speak directly to you about the United States Senate race.

Some of you are Independents, others are Republicans or Democrats. I feel certain you have all supported me in one or more of my many campaigns for office and I thank you profusely. I have worked hard to be even-handed with my politics over the years and because of that, I have a history of supporting the person I feel will be the best choice, regardless of party.

A brutal United States Senate campaign has been waged over these last several months, funded primarily by wealthy out of state interests who will consequently have extraordinary control over the candidate they support. I am convinced certain particular out of state interests are unlikely to align with Louisiana’s best interests so I feel it is necessary for me to say what is in my heart.

To get to the point, I am asking you to please cast your vote for Mary Landrieu. Please hear me out if you are not already planning to do so. In my 24 years in office I have worked with almost all Louisiana members of Congress on behalf of our state. I have never seen anyone who worked harder for our people than Senator Mary Landrieu so I would like to share a synopsis of a few of the many things she has done to help Louisiana.

  1. She is Chair of the Energy Committee. Oil and gas is the foundation of Louisiana’s economy and this is THE most critical committee for our economic well-being. If she loses, the chairmanship goes to some other state while we twiddle our thumbs for 20 years or more, hoping, but not guaranteed to get it back. Many Louisiana oil and gas executives know and appreciate her work and her new position and do not want to see us lose that clout.
  1. Mary values family. As one of eight children Mary believed she too would have a big family. Unable to bear children and initially heart-broken, she and her husband Frank lovingly adopted two children who might have otherwise had very difficult lives.

Her daughter is in high school now and Mary is thrilled that her son and his wife recently blessed her with her first grandchild…an adorable little boy.

  1. Mary values education. She supports smaller class sizes and early childhood education. She promotes education at all levels. 
  1. Mary wants to limit the cost of college debt for students. She is fighting to reduce interest rates on college loans from the current 8% down to 3%. We can buy cars for less than 3% interest these days but saddle our kids with unbearable interest rates. (Cong. Cassidy opposes this reduction per his comments in the LPB forum last week!!)
  1. Mary is bipartisan and independent. She has earned respect from colleagues on both sides of the aisle by standing up for Louisiana’s interests no matter who the President might have been over the last 18 years. This is not a presidential race and in two years a new president will be in office. This is about Louisiana’s future.
  1. Mary knows how to win by forging compromises. She won a nearly impossible battle for Louisiana to get a sizable share of federal revenues from off-shore drilling leases. Louisiana has been asking for this for over a quarter century and Mary got it for us! (As Governor I actually pushed for and won a constitutional amendment to dedicate that money strictly for critical coastal restoration and flood control projects.)
  1. Mary single handedly helped me after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In the aftermath of these hurricanes Mary alone came to Louisiana’s aid. Senator Vitter’s embarrassing sexual escapades were plastered on the covers of Hustler Magazine and neutered his ability to help Louisiana, especially with his own Republican colleagues who pointedly avoided making contact with him during that critical period. Mary helped me bring an OUTSTANDING $29 BILLION to Louisiana by crossing the partisan divide. This money for housing grants, levees, water control installations and public facilities like schools, hospitals, utility systems etc., became the necessary foundation for the strong recovery we have experienced. There was heavy resistance, making this a hard fought battle and Louisiana owes her a huge debt of gratitude!
  1. Mary fights against domestic abuse. She co-sponsored the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act to protect battered women and got grants for shelters around Louisiana. (Hard to understand why Cassidy voted against this bill every time.)
  1. Mary successfully fought back suggested 20% increases in flood insurance rates. We are all thankful she stopped the move which would have cost those of us who live on waterways or have camps on the water, some $20,000+ a year just for insurance. This really was a serious consideration by some in Congress!
  2. Mary is fighting to make health care costs affordable for all. As governor I spent a great deal of time and effort to find ways to control the ever spiraling increases in health care costs. We live in a country that will not stand by while people die in the streets for lack of health insurance, so state and federal governments provide access to a base level of care.

In Louisiana where 21.7%, over one-fifth of our people, work at low paying jobs that offer no health insurance, it becomes obvious why something had to be done to stop the bleeding. That means 866,000 people in Louisiana relied on Charity Hospitals (which no longer function the same way) for their care. All states get federal subsidies to help with care for the uninsured but here in Louisiana we could not get ahead of our problems.

The Affordable Care Act, which Mary voted for, is designed to help people with modest incomes buy private health insurance with decent coverage. It is made affordable with tax subsidies. That is no different than allowing companies to write off the costs of insurance provided to employees.

Over 100,000 in our state are now insured thru this program and pay an average $83 per month. 198,000 more are eligible, but probably do not know it. The rest earn too little for that program but would be covered in a different way.

If Governor Jindal would come to his senses and allow our the lowest income earning segment of our work force to become eligible for Medicaid, 100% would be covered by the federal government for 3 years, and 90% thereafter. (The state only gets 67% of current Medicaid help from the federal government.) Most governors, Democrats and Republicans, across the country have done this, so our federal tax dollars are helping out of state folks. We could bring hundreds of thousands off the roles of the uninsured and save tax payers incredible amounts on health care.

There are several moving parts that benefit all of us. Our children can now remain on parents’ policies until they are 26, if necessary. No longer can anyone be denied health insurance for pre-existing conditions, which was a huge problem for many. And insurance companies may no longer keep exorbitant profits. They must spend 80% of the money they earn on direct coverage, returning excess profits to their customers, and thereby lowering costs for all (while still allowing those insurers a healthy 20% margin of profit).

This is a vast improvement over the crippled system we were all paying dearly for in direct taxes and higher insurance costs for ourselves, whether we knew it or not.   I personally thank Mary Landrieu for her vote. I want her to go back to the Senate to continue improving the program so it works even better.

11. Mary is the only statewide elected female in Louisiana today. I want, and I hope you want the women in our families…our daughters, grand-daughters, nieces, sisters, girl cousins, mothers, aunts, etc., to know they can run for high office and defeat powerful financial forces like I did and like Mary must do once again.

If you have any questions I would be happy to answer them. No one has worked harder for us or is more deserving of re-election than Mary Landrieu. She has definitely earned your vote. I ask you to please give her your vote and support and I ask you to ask your friends and family members to do the same.

Early voting starts this week, on Tuesday, October 21. Election Day is Tuesday, November 4, 2014.

This is important to me because I care about my state. And Mary Landrieu’s re-election is critically important to Louisiana. Thank you for your kind consideration.

Appreciatively,

Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

Louisiana Governor 2004-2008

PS: Please excuse the length of this letter, but these issues are important and not easy to abbreviate.

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