The year started off quite well for Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R). He was a popular governor with an ambitious agenda; he was welcomed on the Sunday morning shows; and he’d positioned himself as one of the Republican Party’s “serious” national voices in advance of a likely national campaign.
The ensuing months have not been kind. Jindal’s approval rating, for example, has fallen sharply, and he’s now less popular in Louisiana than President Obama – and Obama lost the state last year by 17 points. Making matters worse, the governor has pushed a plan to eliminate all income taxes and corporate taxes in the state, replacing the lost revenue with a combination of spending cuts, higher sales taxes, and new business taxes.
And how’s that working out?
After months of pushing a dramatic proposal to swap the state’s income and corporate taxes in favor of higher, broader sales tax, Gov. Bobby Jindal is shelving his proposal. In a speech opening the 2013 legislative session, Jindal is telling lawmakers that he is taking his plan off the table even as he said he will not “pout” or “take his ball and go home,” instead asking lawmakers to develop and pass their own version of a plan to phase out the state’s income tax, according to a copy of the governor’s prepared remarks.
According to the advance text obtained the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Jindal will say he’s heard from voters who think he’s “moving too fast.” The governor will add, “Here is my response: ‘Ok, I hear you.’ So I am going to park my tax plan.”
This is clearly a bitter pill for Jindal to swallow.
The governor had high hopes for his plan, expected the Republican-run Louisiana state legislature to follow his lead, and thought it could help serve as a platform for a presidential bid. Instead, the public hated the idea, legislators balked, and Jindal was forced to kill his own plan before the legislature did it for him.
Also note, this isn’t Jindal’s first high-profile failure of the year, either. In late January, the governor pushed a plan to eliminate the state’s hospice program for Medicaid recipients, but was forced to abandon that plan, too, in the face of public revulsion.
Jindal may have his eyes on a national race in 2016, but given recent developments, he might want to consider worrying more about his re-election bid in 2015.