A lot of letters are being sent and received in my home state of Louisiana this week.
Bruce Greenstein, our state’s secretary of health, sent a letter to Washington on Wednesday on behalf of his boss, Gov. Bobby Jindal, refusing to set up a a state-run insurance exchange required by the Affordable Care Act. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu wrote Jindal and Greenstein the next day reminding them of the critical health needs in our state and urging them to reconsider their position. Then Friday, the editors of the typically conservative New Orleans Times-Picayune weighed in with a letter to their readers stating very clearly, “Gov. Jindal is ignoring his people’s needs.”
I decided to get in on this one and address my letter this week to Gov. Jindal.
Dear Gov. Bobby Jindal … it’s me, Melissa.
Mind if I call you by your given name, Piyush? No? You prefer “Bobby”? OK.
Bobby, you are the governor of a poor state.
21.6% of your constituents live below the official poverty line. 20% of them lack health insurance. We rank 49th in child well being. And we boast one of the worst income inequality gaps in the nation.
Being governor of a state with this much poverty and inequality ought to give you a special sense of urgency, but you don’t seem to give a damn. What you do care about, is reaching higher office. And why not? You’re term limited in Louisiana and the White House will have an opening in four years.
So for you, it’s on to the next one right? Looks like your 2016 machine is raring to go. Head of the Republican Governor’s Association - check!
Chastising the defeated Romney for his “gifts” comments – check! Calling on Republicans to “stop being the stupid party” of dumbed-down conservatism and encouraging them to reach out to a broader base – check!
Not bad for the national stage Bobby. But what about your backyard?
Those Louisianans without health insurance could benefit from the Medicaid expansion that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act would provide. Because in Louisiana more than 68% of those Medicaid recipients are poor children. But you’d much rather lead 15 other states in massive resistance against so called Big Government- and tell your constituents- good luck with the private sector.
Speaking of the private sector, it seems like you’d also like to sell off our kids’ education to the highest bidder. That educational voucher system you established? The largest one in the country? The one that gives vouchers to religious schools that teach creationism and allows them to keep their state funding even if their students fail basic reading and math tests? Yeah that one.
Well, we are not fooled. This is not about reform. It as about, as the Interfaith Alliance wrote, your inability to “distinguish between religious indoctrination and basic public education.”
And you think you might be just a bit suspicious of the whole private-sector-equals-public-good equation in the week when BP plead guilty to 14 criminal charges in connection with the Deepwater Horizon’s rig explosion just off our shores two years ago. You chastised President Obama’s energy policy by saying it was a quote: “Subservient by-product of his radical environmental policy.”
But even as our fragile coast loses a football field of protective wetlands every 38 minutes, you–Bobby–remain in favor of new drilling parcels, hyrdrofracking and the Keystone XL pipeline. Just who is the environmental radical?
Tell you what, governor. If you’re bored with dealing with the real problems that face us in Louisiana, if you’re ready to move onto the national stage, don’t wait until the end of your term. Pull a Palin. Quit now. We’ll find somebody else. Because you know what we say in #nerdland? #FBJ: Forget Bobby Jindal.