It seems it’s come down to this: Gov. Bobby Jindal is either a pathological liar or he is completely disconnected with reality.
Or he’s blithely residing in a parallel universe where myth is truth and truth is only a concept, a suggestion, to be rolled out only when it plays better than the myth. And that ain’t often.
Jindal, in New York Monday to tout his book Leadership in Crisis, told the nation on Fox and Friends that his administration had “cut taxes, cut spending, and balanced the budget.”
Balanced the budget?
Whatever the governor in absentia has been smoking has apparently ensconced him snugly in his happy place. To say he sees the world through rose-colored glasses during his all-too-frequent appearances in some place other than Louisiana would be to belabor the obvious.
And, as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, therein lies the rub. The governor, you see, just isn’t in Louisiana that much these days. First there were the fellow Republican candidates in more than a dozen states who apparently needed his help to get elected to Congress, the Senate, or to various governors’ offices. Then, once the elections were over, it was off on a 10-day national tour to promote his book about some vague perception of leadership.
Following New York, where he was scheduled for the Today Show and Fox and Friends and several interviews, he is scheduled to fly to San Diego for the Republican Governors Association annual conference and on Friday he will attend a fundraiser in support of his gubernatorial reelection campaign in Los Angeles. And just why would anyone in Los Angeles be concerned about a governor’s race in Louisiana anyway? Did either of the California gubernatorial candidates hold any fundraisers in Louisiana this year? I think you can check that box NO.
Then, on Saturday he will speak at the Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara before traveling to Washington, D.C. later that day to hold media interviews for his book. He will return to Baton Rouge, theoretically, on Tuesday, November 23.
Meanwhile, home-schooled subordinate Timmy Teepel apparently will be solving the state’s financial woes back home in Jindal’s absence now that he is back from working on behalf of southern Republican gubernatorial candidates. Teepel apparently is being groomed as the next Karl Rove to Jindal’s Ronald Reagan. Both comparisons are, of course absurd to the point of cruel parody.
But I digress. Let’s return to the “balanced budget.”
As of this writing, the state budget deficit is $106 million, hardly a “balanced budget.”
Federal stimulus money, approved by Congress in August, earmarked $147 million to Louisiana’s parish school systems with the stipulation that the money go to salaries of teachers, administrators and support staff. No problem: Jindal simply pulled an identical amount from school funding to plug the deficit. Never mind the adverse effect it had on the local school districts who had already factored the stimulus money into their operating budgets.
But wait, there’s more. No sooner had Jindal “balanced the budget” than it was announced by Associated Press on Monday that the state budget underestimated the number of students attending public schools this year by 9,000, creating a $42 million shortfall in the state’s Minimum Foundation Program (MPF) which pays schools on a per-student basis.
So much for a “balanced budget.”
Not that State Treasurer John Kennedy hasn’t been trying to tell us this. Kennedy, sounding more and more like a potential challenger to Jindal from within his own party, has been critical all along of the legislature for bloating the state budget from $24.2 billion to $26 billion by using “one-time” money at the time when all signs pointed to lower tax revenues and a looming budget crisis.
Kennedy cited the legislature’s use of $198 million in “rainy day” funds, $242 million from delinquent taxpayers, $1.5 billion in one-time federal funds, $17 million from the settlement of a lawsuit against a drug company and money taken from the state emergency response fund as evidence of legislators’ recklessness and fiscal irresponsibility.
Jindal, in his interview with Fox and Friends, http://video.foxnews.com/, cited the need for the president to have the benefit of the line-item veto.
President Bill Clinton lobbied for and got the line-item veto but it was subsequently ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. It remains something of a mystery as to why Jindal would call for the presidential line-item veto; as governor, Jindal has the line-item veto but has used it so sparingly during his tenure as to render it all but useless. He has literally allowed the legislature to run amok with embarrassingly wasteful spending bills without so much as a whimper of protest. At least by not invoking the veto more often, he is conserving ink.
Kennedy also has called for the reduction of the number of state civil service employees by attrition, or simply not replacing workers when they quit or retire. Jindal, on the other hand, has opted for sweeping layoffs—the latest round scheduled two weeks after Christmas.
Kennedy may be a demagogue, but much of what he says makes sense.
Jindal, on the other hand, offers gooney-babble about leadership in crisis and his heroic feats of cutting taxes and spending and of balancing the budget. The lies are so ludicrous as to border on pathos—or to invoke outrage among those who know the truth in something other than abstract terms.
But there is one thing to be said about his arrogance, bravado, and outright distortions: he would make Joseph Goebbels proud.