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Jindal does VP, Obamacare talk, fails the Louisiana healthcare walk

  // Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:53 //

jindals-bookIt’s unusual to hear a silent Bobby Jindal.

If you want to talk about Obamacare just ask Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.  In his audition for the vice president spot on a Romney-Jindal (or would it be a Jindal-Romney) ticket, the Louisiana governor is omnipresent nationally.

Before the nation had a chance to digest the impact of the Justice Roberts decision last week, it was “Jindal Time”.   He immediately announced his state would be not be implementing the controversial Affordable Care Act in Louisiana.  The comment brought him smack into the national spotlight.  In warp speed, Jindal became the man who would undo Obama, just as he tried to do it days after the stimulus passed and during the governor’s daily BP war TV appearances. 

 His prompt public relations opportunity served him well.  The nation saw his face on this Sunday’s Meet the Press as the “no-Obama-man”.   In front of a national audience, he took his favorite target the President and now the Supreme Court, to task.

His talking-head opponent on that Sunday talk show, former presidential candidate for the Democratic Party and ex-Chairman of the party, Howard Dean, suddenly turned the tables on the republican governor.   Dean questioned how the good governor could denounce a program good for his state when his state’s health is on life-support. Dean said,  “ In Louisiana, 48th in the country in terms of child poverty, 48th in the country in terms of premature deaths, 48th in the country in terms of industrial accidents and so forth. Just by expanding Medicaid alone, by accepting the president's Medicaid extension, 340,000 out of those 860,000 uninsured people get covered. This is a great deal." 

Certainly, Governor Jindal, who had previously told a national audience that he knew a thing or two about healthcare, Jindal defended his state by replying when the discussion turned to coverage for the youth, “I do want to say in Louisiana 96.5% of our kids do have coverage. I think if you leave it to states -- nobody is saying leave these kids uncovered. We're saying a new government entitlement program is not the way to get this done.


On Tuesday, Jindal had even more words about President Obama’s signature program and the larger issue, government programs.  While a guest on the all-so-friendly morning news show, Fox and Friends,  Jindal did what he does best.  With his best vice-president candidacy attire, he said,

““The president, his administration, needs to understand what makes this country great in part is that we’re not dependent on government programs,” the Republican governor said.  “It seems to me like the president measures success by how many people are on food stamp rolls and government-run health care. That’s not the American dream.”

Jindal then definitely let the nation know that he was a force to be reckoned by saying he is determined to “stand up and say no.”

“It makes no sense. This is a bad law. Obamacare, it doesn’t do what the president promised,” he said. “Governors have the right, now with the Supreme Court ruling. They should stand up. We’re not expanding Medicaid. We’re not implementing the health exchange. “

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Yet, while the Governor is the toast of the national Republican party and chief denouncer of legislation that has ignited the republican base once again, his own state and its economy is now going toast.

The Jindal administration has been surprised with a sudden $859 million dollars slash in Medicaid money flowing to the State of Louisiana.  Since a group of Republican congressional conservatives have tried to fund the benefits of a new transportation law, a Louisiana pot of money-- made possible by the efforts of Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu—has been cut to shreds.  

Landrieu, you remember was excoriated by the conservative nation for her involvement in the “Louisiana Purchase”, an alleged deal she made for the state to cover a large Medicaid gap existing because the state had received Katrina money.  Not that Jindal did not want this money.  He made it-- need “numero uno” and urged the Congressional delegation to bring home that Medicaid bacon. However, he never disclosed that he was looking at the fine print of the Obamacare law to fill the empty Medicaid pot.  

Even after national figures such as the foul mouth combos Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck demeaned her and the office of the U.S. Senate, by calling her a whore, Jindal remained totally mum about his own administration’s involvement in the operation.  Not a word came from his own mouth to defend her honor nor to tell the truth about his encouragement to get Medicaid money, even if it came from Obamcare. 

After all, the national audience was watching. 

Now, only days after he prosed eloquently on Meet the Press about  how well his state was doing, his healthcare system is gushing blood cutting 11 percent of the funding for health services after Congress unexpectedly gored those Medicaid payment.

Certainly, one would think that Governor Jindal, who verbally slammed his fellow fiscal conservatives during the recent legislative session for their attempts to cut healthcare money as a budgetary item, would say a few sharp words on local and national TV over the past few days about the wisdom of his party on this issue over their desire to cut,

After all, he railed against the feds for being slow on Gustav, he eviscerated the President on the nightly news when drops of oil threatened our Louisiana marshes and he is in rhythm now that elections are near and the enemy is the "hated one".

Now, however, the State of Louisiana must cut into the state’s healthcare bone, leaving medical providers, hospitals and needy patients hanging, we hear not a wimper, a complaint, or a sound.

In reality, the amount the Louisiana legislative conservatives wanted to cut a few months ago during budget negotiations was chump-change compared to double-figure gash in Medicaid funding the Congressional Republican House of Reps have enabled.

Here’s the way the Times Picayune has described this the Governor’s inconsistent behavior when clamoring about the project impact of the healthcare cuts now versus this spring:  

Jindal's health secretary, Bruce Greenstein, said the cuts will be difficult but are "doable." However, when smaller cuts were proposed during the legislative session, Greenstein's comments were bleaker, saying they would affect "everyone's quality of life."

When a bloc of conservative state lawmakers pushed to strip money from the health department, the Jindal administration outcry was loud, suggesting the cuts could devastate health care services. A month later, the $859 million in budget cuts hitting the Medicaid program from new congressional action are far larger, but Gov. Bobby Jindal 's administration has been muted in talking about the ramifications. 

There was no public outcry from the Republican governor as congressional House Republicans slashed the state's Medicaid funding, and he's not commented on the reduction since Congress passed it as part of the federal highway bill.”

So, why would this Governor speak up now about these substantial cuts in Medicaid services for members of the needy population who traditionally have no voice? Why spend the capital since it is his own breathen in Congress who have made the decision to raid the Medicaid fund?

As per the TP, Pearson Cross, a political scientist at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, suggested the administration's rhetorical shift was tied to Jindal's national political aspirations and his very public stance against the Medicaid expansion offered through President Barack Obama's health law.


The Medicaid money targeted by Congress for cuts was given to Louisiana through the Democrats' federal health law that Jindal, considered a possible vice presidential contender, said must be repealed.

"The current position rises out of a need to be politically pure," Cross said. "He's decided to take this stand against Obamacare and the expansion of Medicaid, so regrettably it seems as if this Medicaid cut is kind of playing into that and getting swept along."


It is only natural to wonder if Governor Jindal did and if he will “stand up” and just say “no”  to substantially more severe cuts at the very time his own state is being sliced and diced by those with much more national sway and influence in world of Romney, while the health of his own political campaign is being closely monitored.   

After all, what really makes the great qualities of true leadership is when one is not dependent upon personal political securities when making hard decisions.  The real measure of success is the health of one’s actions during the face of real adversity.  Those are and have been the characteristic of honor that have made up the “American Dream”

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Stephen Sabludowsky

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