Everyone seemed to be getting along nicely at the National Governors Association meeting, right up until yesterday afternoon when one ambitious chief executive decided he wanted a little extra attention. Benjy Sarlin reported
Just as the event was winding down, Republican Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal broke from the feelgood script and delivered an extended broadside against President Obama's agenda. "The Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy," Jindal said, accusing the president of "waving the white flag of surrender" on job growth.
With Jindal abandoning the non-partisan comity that the other governors had tried to respect, it fell to Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) to intervene, stepping to the microphones to characterize Jindal's condemnation of the White House's agenda as "insane."
There are a few angles to this, including the obvious one: Jindal waited until the end of the NGA meeting to start playing partisan games, while still at the White House, probably as part of some clumsy 2016 gambit.
And while that's interesting, let's instead focus on the substance of Jindal's curious message, because his latest push is a doozy.
First, the notion that the "Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy" is deeply odd. Danny Vinik made short work
of the argument.
Obama had spoken to the governors about raising the minimum wage, but it's unclear what Jindal exactly meant by "minimum wage economy." Maybe he was confused it with "part-time economy," a common Republican criticism of Obama's policies that has no basis in fact. I left a message with his press office asking for further clarification, but have not heard back yet. If Jindal meant to argue that more and more workers are earning the minimum wage under Obama, he's wrong. [...] I don't know what exactly Jindal meant by his "minimum wage economy" quip, but Obama has not presided over some vast expansion of workers making the minimum wage. And the Louisiana governor should know what a "minimum wage economy" looks like. After all, his state has the fourth highest percentage of minimum wage workers.
Second, as part of the same remarks, Jindal called on the president to use executive orders -- an argument that coincided with an op-ed
on the subject he published yesterday. The Louisiana Republicans wants to see executive orders that delay provisions of the Affordable Care Act, approve the Keystone XL pipeline, approve more drilling, scuttle environmental safeguards, weaken labor agreements, and change federal education policy, all without Congress lifting a finger.
In the larger context, it's just fascinating for conservative Republicans to argue that (a) Obama's use of executive orders is a tyrannical and unconstitutional abuse of the separation of powers; and (b) Obama should use more executive orders to advance a Republican policy agenda, which wouldn't be problematic at all.
What's more, these conservatives are now making both arguments at the same time, wholly unconcerned by the contradiction. It's almost as if the concerns about the "lawless" White House aren't grounded in any coherent principles at all.