The Political Collapse of Bobby Jindal

Creationist governor’s right wing economic proposals not welcome
Politics • Views: 24,143

Something fascinating is taking place in Louisiana; Bobby Jindal’s fiscal agenda, which looks an awful lot like the national Republican Party’s fiscal agenda with a little extra Ayn Rand, is being overwhelmingly rejected by the public.

After months of pushing a dramatic proposal to swap the state’s income and corporate taxes in favor of higher, broader sales tax, Gov. Bobby Jindal is shelving his proposal. In a speech opening the 2013 legislative session, Jindal is telling lawmakers that he is taking his plan off the table even as he said he will not “pout” or “take his ball and go home,” instead asking lawmakers to develop and pass their own version of a plan to phase out the state’s income tax, according to a copy of the governor’s prepared remarks.

The text of the speech was released to the media prior to Jindal’s 1 p.m. address on condition that it not be published until the governor begins his speech.

The speech is a major concession that Jindal’s proposal, a complicated plan contained in a total of 11 bills, is unpopular both within and outside the Legislature. The proposal has come under increasingly heavy fire in recent weeks as business groups and advocates for the poor have assailed its effects and think tanks have questioned whether the math in the proposal adds up.

Benjy Sarlin has more on Jindal’s political collapse and what it may portend for the national GOP.

Only 27 percent of Louisiana voters supported the plan in the latest SMOR poll versus a whopping 63 percent opposed. The idea didn’t even garner majority support among Republicans.

According to SMOR pollster Bernie Pinsonat, Jindal’s true approval is likely even lower than their mid-March poll indicated.

“The decline there came from his political style, his travel out of state, his budget cuts, additional talk of more budget cuts, and of course the tax plan,” Pinsonat said. “But after the survey, there were two or three major things that happened that absolutely would have made these numbers worse.”

Opposition to his plan expanded in early April as religious leaders joined advocates for the poor in complaining the sales tax increase would hurt working families. Jindal’s staff countered that they’d make sure the cost of the tax cuts would mostly fall on businesses instead of individuals, but that concession prompted the influential Louisiana Association of Business and Industry to come out against it as well. Meanwhile, an analysis by the non-partisan Public Affairs Research Council suggested that Jindal would need to come up with hundreds of millions of dollars more in revenue to make the numbers add up at all. With both the progressive left and pro-market right united against it, Republicans in the legislature began to rebel.

“Just about everyone dislikes this plan,” Pearson Cross, a professor of political science at University of Louisiana-Lafayette, told TPM. “It’s been roundly excoriated frankly. And all of this has taken a toll on his popularity, which is at a historic low heading into the legislative session when he needs to have higher popularity than he’s ever had.”

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