Sunday, February 22, 2009

The kickoff to 2012?

UPDATE: It's really interesting how the Republican governors of two large and diverse states like California and Florida are appealing to reason about accepting stimulus funds for their reeling constituents while their Southern counterparts are tripling down on the crazy. As a native of the South, I try not to buy into the hype about how backwards things are down here. But Jindal, Barbour and Sanford really aren't doing their part to starve the stereotype.

Gov. Bobby Jindal: Sacrificing the residents of Louisiana upon the altar of his own political ambition since 2009.

BATON ROUGE -- Saying that it could lead to a tax increase on state businesses, Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Friday that the state plans to reject as much as $98 million in federal unemployment assistance in the economic stimulus package.

Jindal, who has emerged as a leading Republican critic of the $787 billion spending and tax-cut bill signed into law this week by President Barack Obama, said the state would accept federal dollars for transportation projects and would not quarrel with a $25-per-week increase in unemployment benefits.

Both of those items are financed entirely with federal dollars and require the state only to accept the money. The part that Jindal rejected would require permanent changes in state law that the governor said makes it unacceptable.

"You're talking about temporary federal spending triggering a permanent change in state law, " Jindal said.

But U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., disputed the governor's interpretation and said the new unemployment benefits are designed to be temporary."This bill is an emergency measure designed to provide extra help during these extraordinarily tough times," Landrieu said. "To characterize this provision as a 'tax increase on Louisiana businesses' is inaccurate."

Of course, Landrieu is correct on both counts. Ryan Powers drops the knowledge here but, in short, Jindal is essentially denying unemployment benefits for nearly 25,000 of his own residents in a state where the needs have never been greater.

I can only assume this is what Michael Steele when he said the GOP was looking "beyond the cutting edge." Right off of a cliff.

But before Jindal keeps burnishing his conservative bonafides for 2012, he might want to remember that he's only 1-1 in Louisiana gubernatorial races and he benefitted mightily in 2007 from an absence of quality competitors. When former Sen. John Breaux dropped out of the race, Jindal only had to knock off lesser lights like Walter Boasso and Foster Campbell. Not surprisingly, that wasn't much of a problem.

However, history is a funny thing. People tend to forget it by the bunches. And if history is any guide, Jindal is far from unbeatable in Louisiana.

If the Louisiana Dems haven't thought hard about mounting a serious challenge for '11, they might want to start.


Jack T. said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't most economists agree that extension of unemployment benefits are generally stimulative?

Also, isn't there a way for the Louisiana legislature to get around this decision? I remember hearing someone on MSNBC saying that Jindal was doing this so he could get some conservative cred knowing that the money would get there anyway.

The Jindal/Palin republican presidential debate is going to be awesome. Throw Mittens and Huckabee in there, with the whole circus presided over by M.C. Mike Steele and that's some real soul cooking right there.

blackink said...

Jack T: Spot on, sir. That's absolutely a byproduct of unemployment benefits.

And I do think there is a way for state legislatures to do an end-around right-wing obstructionists like Jindal or Sanford or Barbour. If I'm not mistaken, Rep. Clyburn inserted some language making that possible.

As for the '12 Republican primary, I can't imagine there will be a sane one in the bunch.