Monday, 15 August 2011 18:49

The Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal Way Of Conservatism

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JindalWill the real Bobby Jindal, please stand up.

On Friday, I received the following campaign piece which touts Jindal as a mega-conservative, Washington as liberals ruining the economy, Louisiana Way not being the "Washington Way", and Louisiana balancing its budget while the "libs" in Congress allow the U.S. debt soar out of control. 

 Clearly, based upon this and prior campaign mailings, Jindal is trying to claim the honors of being the conservative in a world of spendthrifts while there is not a real legitimate campaign contender in sight.

I know this is an election campaign, but some truth in advertising would be appreciated.

Here is what Jindal said in his campaign statement:

The difference is clear.

The politicians in Washington are playing a warped game of tax, spend and borrow to fulfill their vision of an ever-expanding government – a government with no limits and without accountability.

Like the stereotypical teenager with a credit card and a lack of appreciation for the hardworking folks who work for the money they spend, Washington politicians ran up the American people's "credit card" beyond fourteen trillion dollars.

Now, the responsible thing to do is to take the credit card away, implement serious lifestyle changes, and pay off the debt.

The problem with this common sense plan?  Being responsible just isn't the Washington Way.  Instead of recognizing that excessive government spending is at the root of our economic problems, Washington politicians say we must take on more debt to keep our old debt from strangling us.

All this absurdity comes with a price. Standard & Poor just downgraded the United States' credit rating for the first time in our history.  And this is just the beginning…

Here in Louisiana we've taken a different approach.  We balanced our budget, we cut government spending, and we returned more hard earned tax dollars to Louisiana businesses and families.  When Standard & Poor's last issued its credit rating for Louisiana they noted our "strong financial management practices," and upgraded our rating to the highest level our state has received since 1984.

That is the difference between the liberal ways of Washington and the conservative approach we've taken here in Louisiana. Only in Washington is HOPE an economic strategy.  America expects and deserves practical solutions from Washington, DC.

But, let’s look at a different perspective.

Last week,  Bayoubuzz interviewed Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy about the US debt and downgrade of the credit rating.  Part of the interview focused upon the Louisiana budget and debt.  Here is the following segment.

 (Interviewer stated that he looked at a page on the Treasurer’s website and from that information it appeared that the legislature balanced the budget this past session but did so by extracting funds from various accounts and further balanced the budget by depending upon undefined “government efficiencies”.    The Treasurer then said:)

Well they balanced this budget, Steve, with smoke and mirrors.  I mean there was no fundamental reform done in terms of the budget.  They took money from funds like the Artificial Reef Fund and  the Louisiana Economic Development Mega Fund and spent it on Medicaid. They raised tuition. They took money from the State Group Benefits plan set aside to pay health claims of state employees and put that into the general budget.

They took 6,000 state employees in higher education off the books pretending that they don’t exist.  They still exist and they are still being paid with state money, but they are just pretending that they don’t exist.

The total amount of actual cuts is about $400 million which is well less than 1% of the budget so they didn’t do anything about the numbers of state employees in a meaningful way.  They didn’t do anything about the fact that 22% of our managers are managing one employee.  They didn’t do anything about consulting contracts.  They didn’t do anything about the 900,000 tax payer funded visits to emergency rooms that we will have this year for routine care.  They didn’t do any fundamental change in terms of how we spend tax payer money and that means in my, yea, the budget’s balanced but balancing the budget is not the same thing as doing long term fiscal reform and that just means that we will continue to live paycheck to paycheck and sort of lurch along from budget crisis to budget crisis.   

 (Interviewer  stated that he interviewed an expert  (Truth in Accounting) who said that Louisiana had a debt problem owing over $16,000 per family or close to $21 billion for the entire state)

We’re worse in the South.   We have more state debt, not state debt, I call it state liabilities, and I will explain why in a second.  We have more per capita than California.  And the reason is our pension system.  Our pension system is woefully underfunded.  Our actual state debt is right about in the middle of the pack but if you add in another type of liability which is a very real liability, your pension liability, and you add in the unfunded accrued  liability, and your health insurance program, the numbers get run up very high.   

(Read and listen to interview) 

I understand that Treasurer Kennedy’s comment did not specifically mention Governor Jindal.

However, in his many speeches and in his press materials, I do not recall Governor Jindal ever mentioning our enormous state debt—one of the very worse in the country (43rd).  Why not?

For those with any memory, during the recent session, Jindal constantly fought with Republican Jim Tucker, the Speaker of the House over matters such as the budget. Just ask Tucker about all of the money his district lost over the past years due to what appears to be  Jindal's payback for Tucker urging the Governor to tote the line on spending.   

And, while the Governor might not have liked the budget, he signed it, just as President Obama signed the recent debt ceiling deal which outraged the liberals and the Tea Party crowd.  You sign it, you own it.

His proposals of selling Louisiana properties have incurred the anger of liberals and conservatives for being unnecessary and costly.

According to most accounts, one of his major legislative endeavors, his doomed proposal to merge SUNO and UNO would have actually cost the state millions of dollars and was given a quick kick in the can.

His cigarette tax veto forced Republicans to take positions on the bill, not because they thought it was the right thing to do, but because they did not want a Republican Governor to be embarrassed by an override. Now, thanks to the Governor, our cigarette tax is 49th in the nation—more than a full dollar more than the national average.   While other states are raising cigarette taxes, our state is lowering it.   Oh, by the way, the tax did not go up in smoke.  It is attached to a constitutional amendment on a bill which the Governor signed. 

While the Governor can tout his adherence to “no tax” pledge, our kids and our poor have much greater access to “smokes”  which ultimately means our state will have much more healthcare costs to endure and a much worse standard of life.  While Governor Jindal can claim he did not raise taxes, we all know that in the end all of us will pay for the habits benefiting by the tobacco industry who has tried to tell us that smoking is not a health risk.

Governor Jindal might be right in his argument that New Orleans needs a first-class 1.2 billion dollar medical center and research facility to compete with the Joneses of Texas, Alabama and Tennessee.   Yet, as we know, Kennedy, U.S. Senator David Vitter and Jim Tucker believe the "difference is clear".  They see great risk at such a large endeavor.  The project which could be the biggest economic development boon to the state in history does continue as we publically witness the "Jindal Way" versus the "Vitter, Kennedy, Tucker" way of spending. 

Then, while the Governor is blaming the left, Obama and the “Washington Way” for mindless spending, Governor Jindal has been on a campaign tour promoting promoting improvements to the state.

Last week, it was an investment of $14 million in Community Development Block Grant and Capital Outlay funding for the Chennault International Airport.  While most of us are pleased to see state and federal money spent on building business, the truth is it is hard to distinguish between the "good investments" by the state and some of those "horrible liberal investments" courtesy of the federal stimulus  such as those highways being built in Baton Rouge.

Last week, Jindal was promoting the completion of the Superdome construction which was part of an overall deal that has helped Tom Benson fill up his high-rise building with state government agencies while other buildings are losing tenants by the droves due to the government emigration to the House of Benson.

It appears that almost every day since the end of the legislative session, Governor Jindal is making one economic development announcement after another.  I'm not complaining.  However, I am nonplussed.  In the past, those announcements were few and far between.  Over the recent weeks it's announcement du jour.  The frequency and the timing of them (with the elections only months away) raises the question why are these announcments being made now?  Were they put off or hastened for political reasons rather than occuring for buisness purposes? 

Governor Jindal is not a bad governor and is certainly not a bad person.  The voters have forgotten his flip-flopping on the legislative payraise.  They have overlooked his writing a self-promotional book geared to the national market at the very time that our state was under seige by BP oil. They believe his claims of "ethics reform" while others claim believe there was no reform for his own office and administration transparency is a joke.  Still, he will waltz to re-election, in part because he does what the voters want and because he is a master at image-making.  Also, despite the complaints far and wide over his search for the next job and for the next campaign dollar, he was politically astute enough to travel out of state raising campaign money to become the invincible man during election season.  

The Governor will continue to tout his record as a conservative governor and run against Washington although he really needs not to run against anyone except for perhaps, his own record.   

Stephen Sabludowskyby Stephen Sabludowsky, Publisher of

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