Choosing Sides

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has chosen to refuse $90 million of federal dollars that would have benefited his state’s unemployed citizens. His reason for this is that the state would have been required to change its own laws and expand unemployment eligibility. The federal money would fund the expansion for only three years, after which time the state would have to tax businesses to make up the slack. Therefore, accepting the $90 million would hurt business.

Of course, there is no earthly reason why Louisiana couldn’t plan on phasing out the expansion once the federal money ran out. We’re in an emergency mode, after all. And one would think that putting a little extra money into the pockets of Louisiana residents would be, you know, good for business. People who understand these matters better than I do say that unemployment benefits are a particularly effective stimulus, because nearly every penny is spent:

Temporary increases in unemployment insurance (UI) benefits are particularly effective as stimulus: the benefits go to workers who have lost their jobs, so the added income is likely to be spent quickly. As CBO director Orszag recently told the House Budget Committee, “research has shown that the unemployment insurance system is among the most effective dollar-for-dollar economic stabilizers that we have in terms of counterbalancing periods of economic weakness.”

Already Louisiana is a state that receives more in federal tax dollars than it pays. According to the Tax Foundation, in 2005 for every dollar paid in federal income taxes, Louisiana got $1.30 back. Louisiana got $1.37 back in 2004, so don’t blame Katrina.

Governor Jindal, however, has chosen sides. He is being hailed as a hero by the wingnuts, who are calling the federal dollars a “bribe” and the stipulations attached to it “unconstitutional.”

On the other hand, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger just signed into law a $12.5 billion tax increase. Michael Finnegan writes for the Los Angeles Times,

With that, the Republican governor broke one of the few bonds left between his shrunken party and California’s mainstream voters, marring its hard-won image as a guardian against higher taxes.

Actually, California has a hard-won image of a state that lacks the sense to come in out of the rain, or back away from a mudslide, or whatever.

To be sure, none of the GOP lawmakers who demanded that the state close its $42-billion shortfall without raising taxes detailed the doomsday cuts that approach would entail, nor did the activists who lobbied against the tax increases. If the state had laid off its entire workforce of 238,000 — every prison guard, firefighter and clerk — it still would have fallen billions shy of a balanced budget.

I bet no one in the GOP still is talking about a constitutional amendment that would allow Ahnold to be president.

Anyway, these two governors have chosen their sides. Gov. Jindal chose to stay on the sinking ship that is the GOP. Gov. Schwarzenegger, whatever his many faults, at least is smart enough to know when it’s time to grab a lifeboat.

Update: From Liberal Journal

Keeping money out of the hands of the unemployed during a severe recession is just the kind of stunt that could vault him to the top of the Republican Presidential primary field in 2012. And with potential competition from the mighty Sarah Palin, BJ can’t leave anything to chance.


16 thoughts on “Choosing Sides

  1. Right after Katrina hit, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) begged the president for federal assistance. Bush wouldn’t give it to her unless she agreed to essentially unconstitutional conditions for federal control. Her righteous refusal eventually helped to put Bobby Jindal (R-Doofus) in office. Now the administration is offering Jindal aid that essentially would cost Louisiana nothing. (There is no earthly reason why Louisiana couldn’t plan on phasing out the expansion once the federal money ran out.)

    Who was the better governor, again?

    (And it must be noted also that, after Katrina hit, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (RNC) got whatever the bleep he wanted from Bush, condition-free. After just one month, who’s already the better president?)

    Gov. Schwarzenegger, whatever his many faults, at least is smart enough to know when it’s time to grab a lifeboat.

    For a guy who looks like a gigantic plastic action figure that’s been in the sun too long, sometimes he actually does seem to know what he’s doing. This makes me fear for my perceptions.

  2. Have no doubt, with this stupid stunt, this guy really ingratiated himself with the wingnut crowd.
    It’ll make them feel good about themselves. They like looking down on those in the streets, begging for food. They feel a certain superiority and pride in walking by without even thinking of seeing if they have some spare change in their pocket to help someone in need
    To wingnut’s, he’s a hero. To the rest of us, he’s a callous jerk.
    Let’s see what the good people of the state of LA. think about this. Here’s their Governor, turning away help to his state because he has national ambitions.
    I’ll be interested in any polls coming out of there in the near future.

  3. Wow ! ! Callous Jerk does not begin to describe the Governor of Louisiana. He may think that he is helping his national chances but if he doesn’t get re-elected he won’t be running for president.

  4. Does it work? IT DOES!!! Too cool!!!
    YEAH, MAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Wait, now I have no excuse for bad spelling, poor grammar, or plain old stupidity. What hath ‘comment preview’ wrought?

  5. Louisiana’s a pretty strange place, politically. It likes its egomaniacs (see: Huey Long) and its freaks (see: David Vitter), and seems disinclined to send anyone from either party to Congress unless they’re corrupt (see: William Jefferson, Mary Landrieu). But as soon as Louisianans see one another suffering, Jindal’s going to pay for his decision. In six months, newsanchor Brian Williams ought to go down there, get “het up” all over again, and let everybody see the outcome on their teevees.

    Preview function: EXCELLENT! Now I have no excuse for broken tags.

  6. BJ might want to revisit his idea before the peasants storm the mansion.
    Unless he WANTS to turn NOLA into Mogadishu on the Mississippi, good luck with that Bobby!

  7. Now is the time for a Democrat with a video camera to start building a library of interviews with people as their unemployment payments run out or prove too scanty to take minimal care of a family.
    Jindal is playing carpe Republican primary with the lives of the unemployed. After being painted as such a virtuous reformer of Louisiana in some very flattering magazine articles in recent years, he seems too anxious for something — Rush’s approval, maybe?

  8. Jindal’s supposed principles will put a lot of people further into the poorhouse. Louisiana is also the place where unabashed white supremacist David Duke served as a Republican state representative.

  9. From the LA Times on Republicans complaining about Arnold and the crossover Republicans:

    “I think they could have held out. There are a lot more cuts they could have made,” said Steve Pyle, 61, who said he was so unhappy with the country’s direction that he seriously was considering moving to Australia.

    Steve, get over your ignorance. As much as the rest of us would like to see you go, Australia won’t take you. You are too old. Sorry, they aren’t what folks like you might call “politically correct” down under.

  10. It has been at least two years since I first tried to install a preview function. It’s, like, the end of an era.

    Ah, that glorious feeling when a software project finally pulls into the station. It’s done! It is the end of an era. This real-time preview is the best I’ve ever seen! To my knowledge noone has anything like it.

  11. As much as the rest of us would like to see you go, Australia won’t take you.

    That may not be the case. Of course, this was roughly 45 years ago, but an American named Gibson moved his family to Australia, essentially so his sons wouldn’t be sent to Vietnam. Mr. Gibson was so right-wing in his beliefs, he was convinced the Holocaust never happened. “You want to know where the six million Jews went,” Mr. Gibson would later say, “just look at New York.”

    And Mr. Gibson’s son, Mel, never did serve in Vietnam. He grew up in Australia, and learned all about Jews from his daddy. Unfortunately, Mel eventually moved back to the U.S. And we all know how that turned out.

  12. I suspect the ‘fix’ is already in for BJ with the LA legislature who can overrule his decision to refuse the 90 MIL. The state (and Bobby) has to take the money to prevent news stories in 2 years about the plight of the unemployed in LA which he caused. So he wants it both ways; he gets the money & he gets to take the high ‘moral’ ground with Rush & the wingnuts that he turned it down. (Kinda like the bridge to nowhere that Palin supported but claimed she refused, but in reverse.) In this case BJ’s refusing it in public while he works the legislature to accept it. Now the Democrats are not above political posturing, it needs to be called for the hypocracy that it is whenver it occurs.

  13. Yup, Jindal is another conservative “Christian” who’d rather help the rich than the poor, even when it’s clear that helping the poor will do far more to get the economy back on track (since, as you point out, money given to the unemployed is spent promptly–and, generally speaking, spent in the US). Dare we hope the nation is finally beginning to move away from government by the wealthy and for the wealthy?

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