The last we heard from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), he was attacking President Obama -- eight years in state government, four years in the U.S. Senate, and four years as the president of the United States during a time of crisis -- as being inexperienced. He prefers Mitt Romney, the least-experienced major-party presidential nominee in more than 70 years.
Now, Jindal has a new anti-Obama attack: "I suspect that many in the Obama administration really don't believe in private enterprise. At best, they see business as something to be endured so that it can provide tax money for government programs."
If this sounds familiar, it's because Romney made a similar case last week, arguing that Obama is trying to move us away from being "a free-enterprise nation."
It's hard to overstate how ridiculous this line of attack is. Ezra Klein noted today that Jindal is "considered among the most wonkish of the Republican Party's class of rising stars." That's true; while so many GOP leaders show disdain for public policy, the Louisiana governor seems like a policymaker who not only knows what a GAO report is, but may have even read one.
It's exactly why his attacks are so disappointing -- he knows this kind of rhetoric is stupid, but he says it anyway. Ezra called it a "shameful display."
Consider what it would mean for Jindal to actually believe what he's saying here. It would mean he believes there are real, living, breathing human beings in the Obama administration who unhappily endure the existence of Apple because it leads to tax revenues, or who walk into their local hardware store and can only stomach the experience of buying a hammer because they know, deep down, that some percentage of that purchase is headed into Medicare's coffers. These days, no one in China even thinks like that. To find anyone who actually thinks like that, you need a Hot Tub Time Machine set for the Soviet Union in 1973.What Jindal likely believes, rather, is that this kind of over-the-top comment speaks to something genuine in the conservative id. But it does so by ignoring the reality of the Obama administration's policies.
Right. Jindal's take isn't just wrong; it's willfully hysterical.
The notion that "many" in the Obama administration simply reject private enterprise at a conceptual level is the kind garbage we might expect from Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, or random right-wing bloggers.
But for grown-ups -- and especially for those who present themselves as credible wonks who care about policy -- this is simply inexcusable. Under Obama, corporate profits have soared; corporate taxes are low; economic growth has relied exclusively on the private sector; and the major stock-market indexes have nearly doubled since 2009.
To believe the Obama administration is made up of secret communists who only tolerate businesses to pay for government programs is to embrace a twisted fantasy land. Where is the evidence to bolster Jindal's nonsense? Obama supports a health care package that mirrors plans from moderate Republicans and which Romney himself embraced at the state level. Obama supports a climate policy that's similar to what McCain/Palin supported just four years ago. Obama supports Wall Street safeguards that were approved with bipartisan support. Obama has cut taxes repeatedly, and even now only seeks the same top marginal rate on the wealthy that was applied in the 1990s -- when the economy soared.
Gov. Jindal, grow up. Leave the hysterical attacks to the blowhards.