Is he the new GOP flip-flopper? The latest etch-a-sketch national republican politician?
Or, is Jindal the pragmatic Louisiana governor, the leader of the reddest of all red states who realizes that in order for him to obtain the job he really wants, he must tone down his Grover Norquist rhetoric and be a candidate for 100% of the people, not 47% or 53% as he recently described a perception of the GOP after the Democratic whipping of Mitt Romney and the GOP?
Curious minds and eyes want to know.
Louisiana has a major budget problem that needs a gigantic and immediate fix. Louisiana Democrats look to what they claim are poor schools, miserable healthcare, bad economy, departure of the brain trust and point fingers directly at Jindal for changing course, cutting back on taxes early in his administration during a period when Louisiana was flush with Katrina money and leaving the state with a habitual deficit that requires plugging by constitutional mandate.
Now, some voters see a state budget ready to bust, roughly one billion in the hole again after a few years under Governor Jindal of borrowing on the state’s credit card by continuously using one-time money, embarking on uncertain government programs and raiding other dedicated funds, not intended for the general treasury.
Over the course of his administration, his profile has gotten higher and now he is a bona-fide candidate for the U.S. Presidency, especially since he is Chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association and because he gets the national media gigs which now appears to be daily.
But, some national writers are beginning to take Governor Jindal seriously as has been the Louisiana writers now for over four years. In doing so, these writers might be helping his long-term aspirations for the Oval Office but only if he can get past the angry Louisiana legislature and the very primary voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina that kept foisting the ultra-conservative anyone-but Romney candidates upon the national stage.
While Jindal has basically declared certain republicans and his party for being “stupid”, he is leaving many wondering to which audience is Governor Jindal now playing?
The real conservatives in Louisiana have been and are continuing to flank his right. He has gotten most of his reforms through the legislature due to brute political power and by removing any one who opposed his latest legislative toys. After removing two conservative republican lawmakers who were threats to his plan to privatize government employee healthcare, his buddies on the right now trust him less while those on the left have no use for him at all.
While he continues to lead the charge against Obamacare as Chairman of the RGA, just as he led the charge against the stimulus right before addressing the national audience in an address he would love to forget, from the noise he is now making, some national conservatives (and others) are wondering if he is sinking a different tune out of conviction or due to political opportunity.
Some of these national media comments are somewhat surprising, such as this one written by Brendan Greely and published in Business Week. Excerpts of “Bobby Jindal Just Killed Decades of Republican Tax Policy” are below:
Economists have known for a while that personal marginal tax rates, and inparticular those on the rich, don’t seem to have much of an effect on the economy. As we wrote in September, even Reagan’s economist did not find any evidence that the Reagan recovery had come from the Reagan administration’s personal income tax cuts. Over the last four years, apostate Republican thinkers such as Bruce Bartlett and David Frum began to agree. Then most of America did. Even a group of CEOs of major corporations came around to the idea that raising tax rates on the rich would not hamper growth.
But no sitting Republican politician joined them, certainly none with big plans. Until this week. Bobby
Jindal is both: governor of Louisiana and a strong prospect for 2016. On Monday he told Politico, “We
cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.”He also
said the party shouldn’t tolerate “bizarre, offensive comments”or “dumbed-down conservatism.”Jindal’s
tone isn’t completely new. In August of 2011, I listened to him address a closed gathering of the annual
conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council in New Orleans. He dismissed anyone who
questioned the president’s birth certificate, for example, with a great line: “I’m not worried about where
Barack Obama is from. I’m worried about where he’s going.”
But at the time, a year before the election, he didn’t question the central tenets of conservative economic
belief. He focused on government spending, pointing out that the state, like his own children, would
always come back to ask for more money. His biggest applause line came from an endorsement of a
balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. And he didn’t say anything about a party that simply
protected the rich.
In his remarks Monday Jindal didn’t come right out and say he supported increasing taxes on the rich. But
it was still apostasy, especially coming from the new chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Imagine that in October a prominent Democrat had said, “We are not the party that simply protects the
rich so they get to keep their toys.”The only possible Republican response would be an accusation of
class warfare. Yet Jindal, a two-term governor with a future, did just that. It’s unlikely that he’s had a
come-to-Jesus moment on economics since I heard him speak a year ago. It’s far more likely that
trickle-down economics, having failed with economists, has now been shown to have failed with the
public. Protecting low taxes in general and job creators in particular is as much an electoral identity as it
is an economic policy….
This is a weaker position, rhetorically. “I’m for some low taxes for some people ”is harder to explain than
“No new taxes.”But it’s one of the uncomfortable subtleties that Republicans are going to have to learn
how to say out loud. Jindal is effectively announcing his candidacy for president in 2016. He also just
pulled the drain plug on the rising tide that lifts all boats.
Bobby Jindal has always been a master of reading the political tea-leaves better than most. It is clear, however, if he continues to confuse the state and national populace over matters essential to the core of the Republican base, he can kiss off the Tea Party supporters as they see him morphing into a Mitt Romney flip-flopper for public consumption.
That just might be the bargain he is ready and willing to make.
by Jeffrey Sadow
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