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Political Physics: Stop Grandstanding – That Includes You Jindal!


a blogumn by Monique King-Viehland

I watched Bobby Jindal on 60 Minutes late week and he seemed like a relatively intelligent guy.  So I was even more baffled by his recent remarks about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and his assertion that he would refuse to accept Louisiana’s portion of the stimulus package

jindalEven though his state has rising unemployment rates, structural budget deficits in the billions, and hundreds of business – both small and large – closing their doors; Jindal stood with five of his fellow Republican Governors that are publicly considering rejecting the federal stimulus money approved by Congress.  Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, Texas Governor Rick Perry, Idaho Governor Butch Otter, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, and Jindal have all come out against the package, and say they that may return the funds to Washington, D.C.

Shortly after the ARRA was approved by both houses, these six Governors (including Jindal) held a press conference to express their outrage about the plan, which they declared was nothing more than an extremely bloated, spending bill that would cost states more than it helped.  Jindal in particular focused his objection on a component of the bill that dealt with expanding state unemployment insurance coverage.  According to The Washington Post, Jindal said that “accepting the money would have required a change in state law and, after federal money runs out in three years, [it] would have led to a $12 million increase in taxes on his state’s businesses to keep funding the benefit.”  He asserted that taking an action that would mean increasing taxes down the road was not stimulating the economy.

I am sure this is not about political grandstanding right?  Just because the rumor is that Jindal, Palin and Sanford are all considered Republican presidential candidates in 2012, wouldn’t have anything to do with this right?  Yeah right.

A number of Republican governors have already accepted the stimulus package with open arms, and some supported the stimulus from the start, among them Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, and Alabama Governor Bob Riley.  In fact, according to The Mirror, California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said that his state would take any stimulus money that governors such as Jindal and Sanford reject.  Hear, hear Arnold.

Look, is the ARRA the panacea, of course not.  But people are hurting.  Last week, it was announced that the US unemployment rate hit 8.1% — the highest since the early 80’s, and we have shed 4.4 million jobs since the recession began.  Americans are losing jobs at a horrifying rate and are finding job opportunities non-existent because of the economy and could greatly benefit from the increase in benefits.

Rejecting the stimulus package, no matter what your political affiliation, is irresponsible and a slap in the face to the voters in those states.  It is like Palin, Sanford, Jindal, etc. are saying, “I just don’t give a damn that you’re hurting!”

I think Jon Stewart said it best, “you know money from Democrats can still be exchanged for goods and services, right?”

So, fast-forward a few weeks later and most of the very same governors have subtly backed off previous statements about not accepting the stimulus funds.  Now the message is we do not agree with the stimulus, but that does not preclude us from taking the money.  Okay…

Even Jindal is saying that although he will still not accept the portion of the economic stimulus funds for unemployment insurance, he will take the remaining funds.  So of the approximately $3.8 billion in funding, he will only take about $3.7 billion.  Okay…

But that weren’t grandstanding right?  Of course not.

I guess they watch The Daily Show, too.

. photo credit: Derek Bridges