By Dayne Sherman
I am deeply disturbed by many of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent actions—his callousness toward the Bayou Corne sinkhole evacuees, his funding of state services by a “garage sale” of assets, his unwillingness to accept constitutional restraints on his pension and K-12 education policies, his ongoing assault on colleges and universities, and his rejection of the Medicaid expansion for 400,000 of Louisiana’s citizens.
As if that were not enough, he currently is pushing a sales tax plan that will wreck retail businesses within a 50 mile radius of the state line and will tax groups such as the Council on Aging and Habitat for Humanity. The actual bill has not been filed yet out of deceit far more than building good policy and consensus.
I believe this is a reckless tax plan. It will lead to massive state deficits, harm small businesses, hurt 80 % of Louisiana citizens, further destroy colleges, and only serve to help our governor’s national image.
But I am heartened by a recent development, the 250 ministers who signed “An Open Letter from Louisiana Clergy to Governor Bobby Jindal” on March 18th. Their letter goes to the heart of what’s wrong with Jindal’s immoral tax plan.
The signees are a diverse group, the president of the conservative Southern Baptist Convention Rev. Fred Luter of New Orleans and nearly every variety of Louisiana clergy, including the bishops of the Methodist and Episcopal churches.
It is sad that Gov. Jindal, a man who has preached in evangelical congregations statewide (before his reelection, none afterward), cares nothing about the Christianity he professes.
As Charles Pierce wrote for “Esquire” online, “By his works shall you know him and, by his works, ‘Bobby’ Jindal is no more a Christian than the average wolverine is. He’s a Pharisaical monster who’d have sold Mardi Gras beads on Golgotha.”
Though he claims to be a Catholic convert, Jindal obviously did not get the memo that the new pope has emphasized advocating for the weak and the poor, and the pontiff has taken the name Francis after the great Saint Francis of Assisi. Jindal’s “faith,” however, appears more like the selfishness of Ayn Rand and the corruption of Al Capone than the religion of Saint Francis.
Thank God citizens are waking up, and his popularity is falling like a lead sinker dropped in a bayou.
To cite only one recent example, the governor was the joke of the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he gave a bungled speech and was tied for 9th place in the presidential straw poll. His trampling of Louisiana people and institutions has neither helped Louisiana nor his national profile. The sales tax scheme is simply a way to further his amazingly delusional quest to be President of the United States at our expense. Even many Jindal supporters are scratching their heads, wondering what happened to their Rhodes Scholar.
The only message that Jindal respects is strong public pushback that costs him politically. Remember the huge raises for legislators in 2008 and his planned cuts to hospice in early 2013? He backed off. After environmental activist Erin Brockovich showed up at the Bayou Corne sinkhole, Jindal followed suit and headed there for the first time a week and a half later. When the heat is poured on Jindal, he folds up like a cheap accordion.
We all have a responsibility to fight Jindal’s tax swindle. On March 17, I wrote my local representatives about the tax debacle, but I did not receive word back from any of them. Perhaps other citizens will have better luck.
It’s time for all of us to stop Jindal’s wrongheaded sales tax scheme. But it’s going to take every one of us speaking up before it is too late.
Dayne Sherman lives in Ponchatoula and is the author of “Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel.” His website is daynesherman.com.