Conservative writer Rod Dreher penned a definitive critique of Gov. Bobby Jindal's delusional bid for the GOP presidential nomination in The American Conservative on Feb. 6. Under the headline, "How Bobby Jindal Wrecked Louisiana," Dreher wrote, "I keep telling my friends in the national media that if you think Bobby Jindal has a chance in hell of becoming president, send a reporter down to spend a few days in Louisiana, seeing what condition he's leaving his state in." We couldn't agree more, and we hope the media follow Dreher's admonition now that Jindal is officially running.
In his campaign kickoff, Jindal painted a mythical picture that stands in sharp contrast to the truth. He then jetted off to New Hampshire and Iowa, where no doubt the national and local media know nothing about his record. Jindal knows that, which is why he inverts the truth to a degree that would make George Orwell blush. We therefore offer our dissection of his announcement: Five examples of Jindal's self-mythologizing versus the truth.
Jindal Myth No. 1: "We did what they said could not be done — we shrank our government. We cut our budget by 26 percent." Truth: Louisiana's total budget shrank by 17.4 percent from 2008 to 2012 — mostly because federal hurricane recovery aid ran out. Since then, Jindal's budgets have increased by as much as 9.4 percent; his last budget is $780 million larger than his first. (Source: Jindal's own Division of Administration)
Jindal Myth No. 2: "Now we have more people working than at any time in our state's history, with the highest incomes in our state's history." Truth: Louisiana currently has the nation's sixth-highest unemployment rate. When Jindal took office in January 2008, Louisiana's unemployment rate was 4.3 percent — below the 5 percent national rate. In May it was 6.6 percent — well above the 5.5 percent national rate. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Jindal Myth No. 3: "The big government crowd hates what we have done — they say we have cut government more than anyone, and that government budgets are always running low on funds with me in the governor's office." Truth: Jindal faces criticism not for cutting government, but rather for cutting higher education. Under Jindal, Louisiana has cut per-student spending for higher education more than any other state in the country and is second only to Arizona in the percentage of cuts to higher ed. (Sources: The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
Jindal Myth No. 4: "They say the $18 trillion national debt can't really be addressed, and it's just part of doing business, so it's better not to talk about it. But we can and we will." Truth: Jindal inherited a nearly $1 billion surplus, spent it and now leaves a $1 billion-plus "structural" (read: permanent) deficit. (Source: Moody's Investors Service and the Public Affairs Research Council)
Jindal Myth No. 5: "If you are looking for a candidate who will politely manage America's descent into mediocrity, I'm not your man." Truth: On this point, we agree. There was nothing "polite" about Jindal's "management" of Louisiana's descent into fiscal chaos. That's why every candidate to succeed him as governor, including all three Republicans, vows to undo Jindal's fiscal policies.