Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal Refuses $90 Million That Could Aid 25,000

In his response to President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress tonight, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana stated disapprovingly, "Today in Washington, some are promising that government will rescue us from the economic storms raging all around us."

Jindal is out to prove that the Louisiana state government can't rescue 25,000 residents, by rejecting $90 million in recovery funding available through the stimulus package. He turned down extending the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program, which provides 20 weeks of benefits to those "who had already collected all regular state benefits," and he rejected widening the pool of eligible individuals.

Is Jindal playing politics to position himself favorably among his party's conservative base? Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu of Louisiana stated, “Jindal needs to choose whether to represent the state of Louisiana or be the spokesman for the national Republican Party.”

Democratic Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans observed, "“I think he’s been tapped as the up-and-coming Republican to petition a run for president the next time it goes around. So he has a certain vernacular, and a certain way he needs to talk right now."

Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California is not taking Jindal's example: “You just tell them that anyone that doesn’t want to take the money: I’m ready to take their money and rebuild California.”

In an editorial, "What Part of 'Stimulus' Don't They Get?," the New York Times criticized Jindal and fellow Republicans who refuse to take money that could aid those who have joined the rising number of unemployed:

Imagine yourself jobless and struggling to feed your family while the governor of your state threatens to reject tens of millions of dollars in federal aid earmarked for the unemployed. That is precisely what is happening in poverty-ridden states like Louisiana and Mississippi where Republican governors are threatening to turn away federal aid rather than expand access to unemployment insurance programs in ways that many other states did a long time ago.

What makes these bad decisions worse is that they are little more than political posturing by rising Republican stars, like Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina. This behavior reinforces the disturbing conclusion that the Republican Party seems more interested in ideological warfare than in working on policies that get the country back on track.

...The governors are blowing smoke when they suggest that the federal unemployment aid would lead directly to new state taxes. No one knows what the economic climate will be when the federal aid has been used up several years from now...

...Governors like Mr. Jindal should be worrying about how to end this recession while helping constituents feed and house their families — not about finding ways to revive tired election-year arguments about big spending versus small government.


Dana Seilhan said...

Bobby Jindal is a prime example of what happens when people vote their religious beliefs over their economic interests. I'm from Louisiana and people are still racist as hell there. The one thing that would get them electing Jindal is that he's a conservative Christian, and they like that. They'll vote for that over race and they'll sure vote for it over improving their economy. Which is already in tatters, and has been for many, many years.

It hurts me to see it.

Jeff Tone said...

Dana: For an excellent analysis of people voting against their economic interests due to religious and cultural wedge issues, I highly recommend "What's The Matter With Kansas?" by Thomas Frank.

mjmand said...

I realize that this is doesn't add much to constructive dialogue but I just have to get this off my chest. What a pathetic response it was! There, I said it. But, unfortunately I don't feel any better. I fear that we are about to embark upon at least four years of obstructionist politics from what has thankfully become the opposition party.

Jeff Tone said...

mjmand: See my 2/26/09 response to to Jindal's ridiculous rebuttal.

Judging from their response to the stimulus package, the Republicans have become the party of "No."