Jindal’s Economic Message Still Needs Tweaking

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Jon, as if to answer your question on his (apparent lack of an) economics platform, Gov. Bobby Jindal published an op-ed in USA Today on Sunday touting his economic record in Louisiana.  However, it’s clear that he did not take note of your recommendations.

In the column, Jindal argues Louisiana’s economic achievements during his tenure as governor were the result of cutting taxes and slashing the state budget and implies that the same is needed at the federal level to spur a nationwide economic recovery:

Seven years ago, I ran for governor promising to make the economy bigger and the government smaller. We have lived up to that, accomplishing in Louisiana what the federal government has failed to do. We have balanced budgets, drastically reduced the size of government and empowered growth in our private sector.

Our state budget is nearly $9 billion smaller, with over 30,000 fewer state workers, than when we took office in 2008. And guess what? After reining in the size of government and lowering taxes, Louisiana’s economy is stronger than ever.

This, of course, is fairly standard Republican messaging.  And while cutting taxes and spending is certainly a good thing, Jindal does little to address those Louisianans who are still struggling financially.  Given the lack of attention to these struggles, it is not difficult to see how his pronouncement that the state is “stronger than ever” could be interpreted as disconnected and even callous, especially when 6.7 percent of Louisianans were still unemployed as of this past December, the seventh worst rate in the country.

In order to create a compelling economic message, Jindal will need to do more than simply run on his record, however laudable it may be.  He will need to find a way to connect with the continuing struggles of working Americans, many of whom are dealing with the economic squeeze caused by rising prices and stagnant wages.  Other presumptive Republican candidates have already figured this out.  If Jindal does not, his campaign may very well be a nonstarter.

Paul Dupont is a legislative assistant at American Principles in Action.