Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bobby Jindal : A Man With a Plan

The tidal wave of Obamamania and the massive "stimulus bill" that inundated skepticism has left me with a sense of foreboding. I have long felt that government should facilitate solutions rather than initiate them. With proper oversight, our ailing economy has within itself the power to recover. There are ways to encourage investment in recovery.

Jindal expressed his respect for the president and his appreciation of the importance of his election as a milestone in the struggle for racial equality. After that, he laid out his differences in a clear and engaging way. The best one liner of his speech was "In my home state, there used to be saying: At any given time, half of Louisiana was said to be half under water, and the other half is under indictment."

Tonight, when watching Bobby Jindal's reply to President Obama's speech, I saw the possibility of the hope and change so often spoken of by Obama. Jindal seems to recognise that government is a big player in America's economy. He articulated a fundamental opposition to both the specifics and the philosophy of the Democratic plan. He had specific and positive proposals to lift the economy that involved freeing entrepreneurs to work in critical areas such as energy independence and home construction. His tone was positive and constructive. In a lifetime as the child of immigrants, his awe at America's strengths and potential has not diminished. The following exerpt from Jindal's speech shows the clear and principled differences in his approach

That is why Republicans put forward plans to create jobs by lowering income tax rates for working families, cutting taxes for small businesses, strengthening incentives for businesses to invest in new equipment and hire new workers, and stabilizing home values by creating a new tax credit for home-buyers. These plans would cost less and create more jobs.

But Democratic leaders in Congress -- they rejected this approach. Instead of trusting us to make wise decisions with our own money, they passed the largest government spending bill in history, with a price tag of more than $1 trillion with interest. While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a "magnetic levitation" line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and $140 million for something called "volcano monitoring." Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C.

Democratic leaders say their legislation will grow the economy. What it will do is grow the government, increase our taxes down the line, and saddle future generations with debt. Who among us would ask our children for a loan, so we could spend money we do not have, on things we do not need? That is precisely what the Democrats in Congress just did. It's irresponsible. And it's no way to strengthen our economy, create jobs, or build a prosperous future for our children.

Jindal had clear and reasoned approaches to a number of problems as well as an engaging way of driving home points. As governor of Louisiana he has clearly shown his ability to tackle a daunting array of problems. As a result, his approach has a practical ring to it as shown in the following paragraphs.

To strengthen our economy, we need urgent action to keep energy prices down. All of us remember what it felt like to pay $4 at the pump and unless we act now, those prices will return. To stop that from happening, we need to increase conservation, increase energy efficiency, increase the use of alternative and renewable fuels, increase our use of nuclear power, and increase drilling for oil and gas here at home. We believe that Americans can do anything and if we unleash the innovative spirit of our citizens, we can achieve energy independence.

To strengthen our economy, we also need to address the crisis in health care. Republicans believe in a simple principle: No American should have to worry about losing their health coverage -- period. We stand for universal access to affordable health care coverage. What we oppose is universal government-run health care. Health care decisions should be made by doctors and patients, not by government bureaucrats. We believe Americans can do anything, and if we put aside partisan politics and work together, we can make our system of private medicine affordable and accessible for every one of our citizens.

To strengthen our economy, we also need to make sure every child in America gets the best possible education. After Katrina, we reinvented the New Orleans school system, opening dozens of new charter schools, and creating a new scholarship program that is giving parents the chance to send their children to private or parochial schools of their choice. We believe that, with the proper education, the children of America can do anything. And it shouldn't take a devastating storm to bring this kind of innovation to education in our country.

I was particularly pleased to note Jindal's support for school choice. Additionally, he shows a genuine recognition of problems so often mentioned by Democrats as the reason to elect them.

It is not without some skepticism that I listened to Jindal. Well paid workers are an asset to a vibrant economy. Real wages are going down. And jobs are leaving the country. As much as I distrust the Democrats, we need to keep the issue of a living wage in the public forum. The price of stock is only one economic "vital sign." What workers earn is at least as important.

It is critical that the Jindal approach to government and the economy be voiced.The needs of working families should be central in economic recovery. But business is the engine of prosperity. If a business fails, so do its workers. I am skeptical of the Republican commitment to the well being of workers. But there is a healthy strain of optimism tempered with realism in the "Jindal section" of the Republican party. I am relieved that America has one governor who seems to be on the right track. I hope to hear more from him in the days ahead

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