As the public waits for President Obama’s fourth State of the Union (SOTU) address on Tuesday night, Sen. Marco Rubio is preparing to deliver the Republican response to the speech.
Besides Rubio there remains significant attention on another member of the Republican Party: Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. The governor became a recognizable national figure after he delivered his (unimpressive) response to the president’s 2009 SOTU address. Before the blunder, hopefuls were considering Jindal as a viable 2012 GOP presidential candidate.
Since his national debut, Jindal has made an overwhelming number of decisions in Louisiana that sparked heated response from concerned observers. Host Melissa Harris-Perry addressed these decisions in an open letter to Jindal in November, which coined the hashtag, “#FBJ”: Forget Bobby Jindal. As we fast-forward to 2013, the governor is still in the news for his questionable policy changes.
Harris-Perry discussed with her panel the motives behind Jindal’s actions.
On Jan. 29, Gov. Jindal sent a note to the president via the Washington Post requesting a meeting about Medicaid to “give states more flexibility” in deciding the future of the program. This op-ed was published just as Jindal’s new Medicaid cuts went into effect in his own state. “Over the last five years, governor Jindal has cut Medicaid every year,” said Louisiana senator Karen Carter Peterson to the panel. She described the low eligibility rates in the state–one of the lowest in the country–and how this, in addition to Jindal’s other political ideaologies, is ”to the detriment of our citizens.”
Being Different author Rajiv Malhotra believes that all of the governor’s actions are to propel him to the forefront of 2016 ballot, whether or not they benefit the residents of Louisiana. Thus far, Jindal has willingly transformed into whatever the GOP needed him to be. “[Bobby Jindal] became as white as he could except for his skin color,” said Malhotra. “He’s uncomfortable being an Indian-American; he’s rejected that…except when it comes to fundraising.” Malhotra noted that Jindal was easily able to reject his ethnicity, until recently when the Republican party realized they needed to be “less white” in order to win the masses.
“The Republican Party actually does have more minorities and governorships than the democratic party does,” clarified Patrick Millsaps, former chief of staff for Newt Gingrich in 2012. Although opposed to some of Jindal’s proposals, he explained the inaccuracy of attributing the governor’s faults to race relations and identity versus the real issue: budget decisions. However, Jindal’s polictical decisions are called into question when his authenticity is challenged.
Democratic strategist John Rowley expanded on Millsaps stance and mentioned the problems Jindal will face in this “era of authenticity.” He listed several instances in which Jindal put himself at a disadvantage. ” [He] changed his religion, he changed his name…he’s changed some of his policy positions–he’s even changed his campaign tactics,” said Rowley.
Atop of the many changes Gov. Jindal is responsible for, he proposed yet another that will significantly impact each resident of Louisiana. This time, aside from Medicaid, Jindal is suggesting a tax reform that will eliminate state income tax, and increase sales tax instead. This proposal added to existing laments from the lower class, since a more signifcant proportion of their budget will be spent on consumer goods while the wealthy get a tax break. Although the proposal is in it’s early stages, it is enough to cause a stir in Louisiana and gather attention from the rest of the United States.