in case you missed it this morning…

Jindal on Meet the Press

and the transcript…

Welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R-LA): Good morning.

MR. GREGORY: You have a budget shortfall in Louisiana of $2 billion. Now, under the stimulus plan by the Obama administration, you would get a cut of that. You’d get $4 billion in federal stimulus. But this is what you said on Monday about the stimulus plan: “We’re going to have to review each program, each new dollar to make sure that we understand what are the conditions, what are the strings and see whether it’s beneficial for Louisiana to use those dollars.” And just Friday you made good on that pledge not necessarily to take the federal money, saying that you would reject almost $100 million in federal unemployment assistance. Why would you turn this money down?

GOV. JINDAL: Well, let’s be clear. The best thing that Washington could do to help Louisiana and all of our states with our budgets is to get this economy moving again. I think we just have a fundamental disagreement here. I don’t think the best way to do that is for the government to tax and borrow more money. I think the best thing they could’ve done, for example, was to cut taxes on things like capital gains, the lower tax brackets, to get the private sector spending again. I think they had a provision the net operating losses to help small businesses. Unfortunately, they slimmed that down. They could’ve done some things on a real energy policy. If all they do is borrow federal money and give it to the states, all we’re really doing is delaying the inevitable. We’re eventually going to have to make these hard choices anyway. In Louisiana we made midyear reductions, $241 million. We’re going to have to do more with less. What would be more helpful from Washington is less unnecessary spending. How does $300 million for federal cars, $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, how is spending like that going to help our economy? How’s that stimulus?

MR. GREGORY: All right, but let’s focus on–because I want to get to some of those larger issues in just a moment. But let’s focus on this. Why would you turn down $100 million for federal unemployment assistance for your state?

GOV. JINDAL: Well, let’s look at the programs we turned down.

MR. GREGORY: Yeah.

GOV. JINDAL: You’re talking about temporary federal money that would require a permanent change in state law.

MR. GREGORY: But it is–it’s a tax break.

GOV. JINDAL: Well, it, it’s–no. The $100 million we turned down was temporary federal dollars that would require us to change our unemployment laws. That would’ve actually raised taxes on Louisiana businesses. We as a state would’ve been responsible for paying for those benefits after the federal money disappeared.

MR. GREGORY: All right, but the Democratic senator from Louisiana, Mary Landrieu, says you’re wrong. This is how it was reported in The Times-Picayune Saturday: “Senator Landrieu disputed the governor’s interpretation and said the new unemployment benefits are designed to be temporary. `The 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.'” Her point being, you could insert a sunset clause when this has to go away, but it would certainly be beneficial at a time when you’re in economic stress.

GOV. JINDAL: That’s great, except the federal law, if you actually read the bill–and I know it was 1,000 pages, and I know they got it, you know, at midnight, or hours before they voted on it–if you actually read the bill, there’s one problem with that. The word permanent is in the bill. It requires the state to make a permanent change in our law. Law B–our employer group agrees with me. They say, “Yes, this will result an increase in taxes on our businesses, this will result in a permanent obligation on the state of Louisiana.” It would be like spending $1 to get a dime. Why would we take temporary federal dollars if we’re going to end up having a permanent program?

And here’s the problem. So many of these things that are called temporary programs end up being permanent government programs. But this one’s crystal clear, black and white letter law. The federal stimulus bill says it has to be a permanent change in state law if you take this state money. And so within three years the federal money’s gone, we’ve got now a permanent change in our laws, we have to pay for it, our businesses pay for it. I don’t think it makes sense to be raising taxes on Louisiana businesses during these economically challenging times. And what it shows is what we’re going to do in the stimulus is we’re going to look at every program, every dollar. If it makes sense for Louisiana, makes sense for our taxpayers, we’ll use those programs and dollars. If it doesn’t, like on Friday we said, “This doesn’t make sense for us. This is not a good deal for us.” It makes–my job is to represent Louisiana’s taxpayers. Makes no sense for us to take temporary federal dollars and create permanent state obligations.

MR. GREGORY: Are there other parts of this stimulus money that would go to Louisiana that you will reject?

GOV. JINDAL: Well, we’re going to continue to do our process. On Friday we said, for example, we are going to take–we are going to recommend the legislature that we take the road money. These are dollars the federal government was going to spend on roads anyway. In my view they’re going to spend it a little more quickly than they would have otherwise. Louisiana’s still a donor state. We pay more in federal gasoline taxes than we get back. So on the same day we said we’re not taking the $100 million in the unemployment, we said we will take the road money. We’re going to look at every provision, see what’s good for the state, see what’s not, see what strings are attached. But the reality is the bigger philosophical point is this, I just have a fundamental disagreement with this package. When it was originally proposed, it was talked about as–the president originally talked about tax–targeted tax cuts…

MR. GREGORY: Right.

GOV. JINDAL: …as well as infrastructure investment.

MR. GREGORY: But a third of this package is made up of tax cuts.

GOV. JINDAL: Well, but you look at the provisions that would get our economy moving–for example, they–both the House and the Senate had more generous versions for the small businesses, the net operating losses, the carryforwards. They get into conference and it ends up smaller than where both houses started.

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

GOV. JINDAL: Other spending started out, like the, the magnetic-lev train subsidy started out smaller and ended up larger than what both chambers passed in conference, $8 billion. You know, now they’re talking about spending billions of that to build a train from Disneyland to Las Vegas. There was so much wasteful spending here. I think the president had a chance, if he had worked with the Republicans–instead of allowing Speaker Pelosi to write this bill, if he had worked with the Republicans to say, “Let’s really invest in infrastructure, let’s do targeted temporary spending, let’s do some tax cuts, let’s get the economy moving.” I don’t think we’re going to solve our economic challenges through government spending.

MR. GREGORY: But Democrats would, would argue, with regard to a call for greater tax cuts, that over the course of the Bush presidency you only had a–three million new jobs through aggressive tax cutting, that the change in median income did not appreciably go up at all. And yet there is this emphasis on tax cuts as the best way to cure what ails the economy.

GOV. JINDAL: Well, I think there’s just a–I think this is–shows the fundamental disagreement…

MR. GREGORY: Is that wrong? Is that–are those facts wrong?

GOV. JINDAL: Well, I–a couple of things about those facts. You look in our country’s history, when President Kennedy, when President Reagan and, yes, when President Bush cut taxes, you know what, they created jobs for our country. It caused some of the best economic times and prosperity for our country. But I think it goes to the fundamental difference about our approaches to this stimulus bill. On one hand, you have this idea that the way we’re going to solve this–and you heard even the president say that government may be, at one point–I’ll paraphrase–may be the only entity that can help us solve this. You’ve got another view that says this is all–this spending is temporary, it’s creating debt my children, my grandchildren are going to have to pay.

MR. GREGORY: Right.

GOV. JINDAL: What I think is the only way we grow this economy is to get the private sector hiring again, expanding, creating jobs. It’s the only way you’re going to solve the foreclosure crisis, the only way you’re going to have the credit freeze resolved is by the private sector expanding.

MR. GREGORY: All right, but wait a minute. But let me just stop you on that point…

GOV. JINDAL: We can’t quit.

MR. GREGORY: …Governor, because this is a really important point.

GOV. JINDAL: Well, well, all right, but one, one last point.

MR. GREGORY: Yeah.

GOV. JINDAL: We can’t print enough money to move this economy. Let’s be clear. This isn’t free money…

MR. GREGORY: Right.

GOV. JINDAL: …just because they spent nearly $1 trillion. That’s debt that will cause inflation and interest rates.

MR. GREGORY: But you would concede that most economists are worried about deflation right now, not inflation.

GOV. JINDAL: Sure. But if you look at CBO, even, even the…

MR. GREGORY: Congressional Budget Office.

GOV. JINDAL: Even the congressional’s own budget office said that this stimulus will actually has the potential of reducing GDP growth because of inflation.

MR. GREGORY: But let me ask you this as a philosophical point. We are in the midst of an unprecedented global process of de-leveraging, which means people are not spending money, they are paying down debt, they are saving money. Businesses are not expanding, they are contracting. So why is it wrong for government to try to, try to create demand for goods and services in the economy when the private sector is too weak?

GOV. JINDAL: Well, I think–again, I think you could have had a bipartisan stimulus package that it was truly what the president outlined: targeted, temporary. If he had come and said, “Here’s infrastructure that is real infrastructure, that really will grow our economy,” investing in ports and roads can help grow our economy, “Combined with tax cuts that help small businesses and others to employ and stay in business”…

MR. GREGORY: But you don’t dispute that federal stimulus money is necessary when the economy is not being stimulated through the private sector.

GOV. JINDAL: I think if it’s targeted, temporary and there is a real commitment that this is not creating permanent new government programs, not adding to the deficit, that we understand what temporary means. There’s a commitment that we reduce spending. Now we hear tomorrow the president’s going to be talking about reducing the debt and the deficit.

MR. GREGORY: Right.

GOV. JINDAL: You know, it’s great that, that we’re going to close the barn door after the horse is gone, but there has to be real attention–when you look at the spending that was in this stimulus, I think a lot of people are skeptical. A lot of economists, by the way, are skeptical…

MR. GREGORY: Right. By the way, Governor…

GOV. JINDAL: …this will grow our economy.

MR. GREGORY: There is a lot of Republicans who complain about the deficit now, didn’t have a problem with deficit spending when it came to funding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And you’ve had among those–among the likes of Warren Buffett who said, “This is like Pearl Harbor for our economy.”

GOV. JINDAL: Well…

MR. GREGORY: Isn’t it worth the deficit spending?

GOV. JINDAL: Well, a couple of things. Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty when it comes to spending. Make no mistake about it, Republicans defended incredible growth in spending that we shouldn’t have these last several years. This is an order of magnitude different. Let’s be clear, because sometimes it’s hard to get our minds around these numbers. When people are talking about trillions of dollars, when you’re talking about permanent deficits as far as people are predicting out…

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

GOV. JINDAL: …when you’re talking about the effect this’ll have on our currency, on interest rates, when you’re talking about China being our largest foreign holder of U.S. debt, we’re talking about real changes in our economy. That’s not free. You’ve seen the comparisons that this is more than we spent–this one bill was the largest spending bill that Congress has passed; more than we spent in, in Vietnam, more than–and you can look–more than the Louisiana Purchase.

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

GOV. JINDAL: To, to use a, a local, a, a relevant example. But the point is this. It was rushed through the process. There were many–I think many would agree there were many aspects of this bill–how’s a billion dollars for the census? How’s new computers for the federal government, $300 million for new federal cars, how’s that stimulus? Why did that have to be done without the proper committee hearings? Why didn’t the, the members of Congress get a chance to read and debate this bill? Why didn’t taxpayers get to see it online…

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

GOV. JINDAL: …like we were promised we would? Why the rush through the process? Why not do this in pieces? Why not start with what was truly–what was originally described as temporary, targeted stimulus?

MR. GREGORY: All right.

GOV. JINDAL: And again, it comes down to we believe put people to work, let small businesses hire.

MR. GREGORY: I want to have you react to a couple of reactions this week to your position on the stimulus. The first one was an accusation by a top Democrat in the House of hypocrisy. Jim Clyburn. This is how–the statement he made on Friday: “House Majority Whip [Representative James Clyburn] argued that many of the federal funds are specifically targeted towards low-income minority communities. He also accused GOP governors who have resisted the stimulus of hypocrisy.” Quoting him, “`Let’s take, for instance, Louisiana Governor Jindal has been in my office a number of times asking for billions of dollars in assistance to stand communities back up as a result of Hurricane Katrina and Rita. … Yet he says there is something wrong with this money for the stimulus that comes from the same pot, that he sees nothing wrong when he’s trying to stand back up after Katrina.”

And this was New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who was at the White House on Friday meeting with the mayors, who suggested that your position on the stimulus and this federal money is political posturing. Listen to him.

MAYOR RAY NAGIN: I think the governor of the state of Louisiana is a Republican. I think he’s been tapped as the up-and-coming Republican to potentially run for president the next time it goes around. So he has a certain vernacular and a certain way he needs to talk right now. I told the governor personally any dollars he does not want, we will take them gladly.

MR. GREGORY: Reaction to both those statements?

GOV. JINDAL: Well, it’s not the first time I’ve disagreed with the good mayor of New Orleans. But going back to Representative Clyburn’s comments, a couple of things. Let’s be clear. Everybody knows the federal levees that were designed and built by the Corps didn’t do what they were supposed to do in 2005. We absolutely have worked with Representative Clyburn and other members of the Congress in both this administration and previous administration to–and as governor of Louisiana, I will continue to work to make sure that the federal government repairs and builds the levees the way they should have been built in the first place, repairs our coast to prevent against future storms and also, by the way, helps to repair some of the damage that was caused by the breaking of those federal levees. That’s important for Louisiana, it’s important for our country.

Our, our state, by the way, 9 to $10 billion comes off of our coast in terms of federal oil and gas royalties. If that was federal lands within our state, we’d get 50 percent. We get virtually none of that. You look at 30 percent of the nation’s oil and gas in some form comes off of our coast. It’s important for the country that America rebuilds those levees, that America helps those communities get back on their feet. Absolutely, as the governor of Louisiana, I’m going to say–because the federally built and designed levees didn’t do what they were supposed to, absolutely I’m going to advocate that they get–be rebuilt properly, absolutely I’m going to be willing to put up my own share, and absolutely I’m going to push the federal government to cut through the red tape. In this stimulus bill, for example, there wasn’t new money for Katrina, there wasn’t new money for Rita, there was no money targeted after the storms. One provision we did ask for–and I want to thank Senator Landrieu, who actually got this provision in. We said there are 4,000 projects, $1.4 billion already funded, already approved that are been caught in red tape in the federal government. We said just give us an adjudication process, tell us yes or no. So absolutely, as the governor of Louisiana, it’s my job to represent the taxpayers of our state.

MR. GREGORY: OK.

GOV. JINDAL: Federal levees didn’t do what they were supposed to. Yeah, we want them to build properly.

MR. GREGORY: Let me spend our last couple of minutes talking about politics. What is the state of the Republican Party?

GOV. JINDAL: Look, our Republican Party got fired with cause these last two election cycles. We became the party that defended spending, corruption that we never should’ve tolerated, and we stopped offering relevant solutions to the problems that Americans care about. I think now is the time and it’s a great opportunity for Republican governors and other leaders to offer conservative-based solutions to the problems. For example, whether it’s the mortgage crisis, how we can help people keep their homes, whether it’s the banking crisis. We haven’t–we won’t have time to talk about, you know, mark to market and some of the other reforms that could be done. Whether it’s the stimulus package, the Republican Party has got to offer conservative alternative solutions. I think our obligation is to work with the president every chance we can, to be bipartisan. We’ve done that in Louisiana. We’ve cut taxes six times, reformed ethics. We need to work with the president every chance we can. But on principle–when we disagree with him, we should be unafraid to stand up on principle and to point out our alternative solutions.

MR. GREGORY: Will that be your message Tuesday night in response to President Obama?

GOV. JINDAL: That will be a part of it. We can’t just be the party of no, we have to offer real solutions. We stand ready to work with our president. I think he, he has a chance to, to work and lead our country in a bipartisan way. Unfortunately, with the stimulus he allowed Congressional leaders to write this bill. A lot of them put 10 years worth of spending in this bill they’ve been waiting to do. I think he’s got a real chance. We want to work with him going forward.

MR. GREGORY: You talk about core conservative principles. There are some in the party who say the only way the Republican Party is really going to get back on track is if it seeks to broaden the party. If it can broaden the party geographically, would that only happen if there is a change on some core positions on issues like climate change, social issues, stem cell research?

GOV. JINDAL: I think on each of the issues that Americans care about, if we’ll offer relevant solutions, if we’re authentic and honest with the people–and I think governors have an opportunity to demonstrate proven track records. We have to balance our budgets and build roads and schools and other things, and grow our economies. I think if we can offer authentic, honest solutions, we will build a large coalition. There’ll be people that don’t agree with us on everything. Ronald Reagan did it. And to his credit, President Obama did it.

MR. GREGORY: But the party has to expand, you believe that, if it’s going to be successful.

GOV. JINDAL: Oh, absolutely. Look, we lost both elections because we got less than 51 percent of the votes. Obviously we’ve got to expand. But I don’t think we expand by becoming an imitation of the other party. I think we expand by standing on principle for what we believe in. I think that attracts voters, I think that attracts supporters. They may not agree with us on everything.

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

GOV. JINDAL: But they’ll respect our honest. Most importantly, they’ll respect the results.

MR. GREGORY: Before you go, your political future is something that’s been speculated about. Here you were in November in Iowa, traveling there to raise some money all the way from Louisiana. And this is how the economists reported some of your recent activities: “Mr. Jindal’s recent fundraising forays to other states–including Iowa, which every four years holds the crucial first presidential caucus–have raised some eyebrows at home. His ambition is well known, and most people think he is laying the groundwork for a run at the presidency in 2012.” Do you want to be president?

GOV. JINDAL: I want to run for re-election to be governor of Louisiana in 2011. I told the people of our state we have a once in a lifetime chance to change our state.

MR. GREGORY: Hm.

GOV. JINDAL: We just finished the longest presidential election in America’s history. I don’t think our country needs another election. I think we need this president to be successful. We need to work with him. We need to, when we disagree with him, stand on principle.

MR. GREGORY: So if, if you’re re-elected in 2011, will you serve out your term as governor in Louisiana?

GOV. JINDAL: It’s my–if the people of Louisiana will have me, I absolutely want to be governor for the next seven years. Now, that’s up to the voters of Louisiana. We’ve got a lot of work to do at home. We’ve cut taxes, we’ve grown the economy, we’ve reformed ethics laws. We still have a lot of work to do.

MR. GREGORY: So if you win, you will serve out your term.

GOV. JINDAL: I want the people–yeah, it’s my intent to, to run for re-election. If they elect me to serve as governor, I will…

MR. GREGORY: You’re not ruling out a run for the presidency?

GOV. JINDAL: What I’m saying is I’m running for re-election. I have no, no plans beyond that.

MR. GREGORY: So your, your position, essentially, is that you’re focused on doing the job that the people of Louisiana have sent you there to do.

GOV. JINDAL: Absolutely.

MR. GREGORY: All right. So just to show you, we save our tapes around here. There was another prominent politician who had something similar to say when he was on the program back in 2006. Watch this.

PRES. OBAMA: I’m not focused on running for higher office, I’m focused on doing the job that the people of Illinois just sent me to do.

MR. TIM RUSSERT: So you will not run for president or vice president in 2008?

PRES. OBAMA: I will not.

MR. GREGORY: We’ll be checking this tape closely.

GOV. JINDAL: Keep it in your archives.

MR. GREGORY: Governor Jindal, thank you very much.

GOV. JINDAL: Thank you. And happy Mardi Gras.

MR. GREGORY: Thank you.

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~ by maringouin on Sunday, February 22, 2009.

 
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