On Sunday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal appeared on Meet the Press, and today, he will deliver the Republican response to President Obama’s speech to a Joint Session of Congress.

Just in case you missed it, you can watch Jindal’s interview by clicking here.

Oyster’s already provided his analysis, and as always, I agree (almost) completely.

Chris Matthews believes that Jindal is “clearly running for President.”

Jindal did a fine job defending federal spending for Louisiana’s levees and coastal wetlands. He was articulate and to-the-point about the federal responsibilities and Louisiana’s short end of the deal on oil and gas royalties. Governor Jindal:

Let’s be clear.  Everybody knows the federal levees that were designed and built by the Corps didn’t do what they were supposed to do in 2005.  We absolutely have worked with Representative Clyburn and other members of the Congress in both this administration and previous administration to–and as governor of Louisiana, I will continue to work to make sure that the federal government repairs and builds the levees the way they should have been built in the first place, repairs our coast to prevent against future storms and also, by the way, helps to repair some of the damage that was caused by the breaking of those federal levees.  That’s important for Louisiana, it’s important for our country.

Our, our state, by the way, 9 to $10 billion comes off of our coast in terms of federal oil and gas royalties.  If that was federal lands within our state, we’d get 50 percent.  We get virtually none of that.  You look at 30 percent of the nation’s oil and gas in some form comes off of our coast.  It’s important for the country that America rebuilds those levees, that America helps those communities get back on their feet.

Sounds great, but let’s face it: His recent posturing on the national stage is not really about promoting the interests of the people of Louisiana; it’s about promoting the Republican Party, and to many, our Governor, the wunderkind, represents a significant opportunity to re-brand the Republican identity. Indeed, the bulk of the interview on Meet the Press was about Governor Jindal’s “philosophical” disagreements with the stimulus bill. Quoting the Governor:

I think the best thing they could’ve done, for example, was to cut taxes on things like capital gains, the lower tax brackets, to get the private sector spending again.

I wish someone- anyone- could explain how cutting or eliminating capital gains taxes would actually stimulate the economy during this recession. President Obama is intent on cutting taxes for the “lower tax brackets,” so, on this issue, he and Jindal agree. But the lower tax brackets don’t pay capital gains.

Jindal also repeated an obvious lie about the stimulus funding a high-speed train between Disneyland and Las Vegas.

You know, now they’re talking about spending billions of that to build a train from Disneyland to Las Vegas.  There was so much wasteful spending here.

John Boehner crafted this line of attack, which is simply a back-handed way of demeaning the merits of a commuter rail network, something, strangely, that so-called “pro-business” Republicans oppose. Quoting Matt Yglesias:

In a last-minute change, the total quantity of funds available was increased. But there’s no special plan for Las Vegas. The money will be spread all across the country. As it happens, I think an LA-Vegas HSR line is a perfectly reasonable project. But in practice the areas that will get a leg up should be the Federal Railroad Administration’s officially designated high-speed rail corridors. As it happens, LA-Vegas doesn’t make the cut. But guess who does have such a corridor? Ohio!

Ohio, of course, is the home state of none other than John Boehner.

Indeed, the existing plan is a bit freakishly Ohio-centric, offering both a Cleveland-Toledo-Chicago line and a Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati-Indianapolis corridor while leaving things like Houston-Dallas and Orlando-Jacksonville (and, indeed, LA-Vegas) off the list. Long story short, John Boehner doesn’t know what he’s talking about and his position on this issue would imperil both short term jobs for Ohioans and an opportunity to substantially improve Ohio’s long-run capacity for economic growth.

I’ve argued in favor of a Dallas-New Orleans corridor. This would augment the multi-modality of numerous towns and cities across the Great State of Louisiana. It would shrink our State; it would offer an alternative route for the thousands of people who make the daily commute between Baton Rouge and New Orleans; it could be utilized during mass evacuations; and it would increase tourism, particularly in Central and Northern Louisiana.

Jindal’s statement about a mythical Disneyland/Vegas train line was actually about a publicly-funded, national commuter rail network. Funny enough, our Governor, thankfully, has no problem taking stimulus money for roads and transportation improvements. A publicly-funded national Interstate highway system is perfectly fine, but a high-speed commuter rail network is somehow a joke.

And so is unemployment insurance. And quoting Jindal again:

How does $300 million for federal cars, $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, how is spending like that going to help our economy?  How’s that stimulus?

A $300 million work order for new hybrid cars from American manufacturers won’t just save American jobs; it will also save taxpayers millions of dollars in fuel costs. And though I don’t know the specifics of re-funding the depleted National Endowment for the Arts, I do know that $50 million, while a gigantic figure, represents less than seven tenths of 1% of the stimulus bill.

Philosophical disagreements are different than practical disagreements. Jindal doesn’t disagree with the practicality of the stimulus, but he claims to have fundamental philosophical differences with it– which is a perfectly understandable position to have, if you’re a media pundit or a paid political operative. But if you’re the Governor of the second poorest State in the Union, practicality should always trump your own personal economic philosophy, particularly during a prolonged recession. As Governor Granholm noted today, the stimulus isn’t “his (Jindal’s) money. It’s the people’s money.”

The people of Louisiana are footing the bill for the $100 million in unemployment insurance allocated for Louisiana.

Whether or not Jindal accepts the money, we’re still paying for it.

2 thoughts

  1. Well, after Lil’Bobby’s sophomoric non-response to President Obama last night, he should seriously reconsider any ambition to run for higher office. Sarah Palin is somewhere saying ‘thank you lord’ for giving Lil’Bobby a nationwide platform.

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