By Robert Mann
In his five years as governor, Jindal has never been politically weaker. And he has never faced a legislature more skeptical of his policies.
In short, the stakes for him have never been higher.
What happens in the next three months could determine whether he is a failed governor. The outcome of this session could also have a profound bearing on his presidential aspirations. Legislators could cripple his presidential campaign, or they could breathe new life into his hopes for the Oval Office.
As we watch the governor’s speech, here are a few questions to consider:
- Will he acknowledge the elephant in the room — the sizable public opposition to his tax plan? Will he acknowledge that most legislators in the chamber do not support the plan?
- Will he make a specific pitch to the business community for support for his plan?
- Will he mention the impact of his tax plan on the poor?
- Will he acknowledge that sales taxes are regressive? Will he explain the sales tax rebate that Revenue Department officials have discussed?
- Will he explain why it is that middle-income taxpayers will generate the bulk of revenues realized from the increased sales tax and why is it that they deserve no rebate?
- Will he acknowledge that his own consultant has criticized the impact of the kind of sales tax increase Jindal is proposing?
- Will he give legislators any indication that he has a fallback position, or will he stick to his guns and try to force a vote on his plan in the House?
- Will he make it official that Tim Barfield is no longer his point person on tax reform? If so, who will be the new point person?
- How will he describe the mess that is his budget?
- Will he talk about the importance of strengthening higher education and, if so, will he explain why higher education funding is so shaky, with two-thirds dependent on one-time money and contingencies?
- Will he have any message of conciliation for the so-called Fiscal Hawks?
- Will he offer a strong defense for using one-time money in his budget?
- Will he acknowledge that his relationships with legislators have suffered and that his ill treatment of them has set the stage for the difficulties his initiatives are facing?
- Will he discuss the Bayou Corne sinkhole?
- How much of the speech will be viewed as an effort to regain his personal popularity and how much devoted to the nitty-gritty, practical work of law making?
- Will this speech be intended mostly for a national audience and, as such, be full of national political themes and sound bites that are aimed at the national media?
- Will he resolve to spend the whole session in Baton Rouge, devoting himself to the work of his office?
- Will he demonstrate his dedication to his job by forsaking a presidential campaign?
- Will he make any reference to the brewing scandal in his own Department of Health and Hospitals?
- How much time will he devote his unpopular decision to close most of the state’s charity hospitals?
- Will he acknowledge that his education “reforms” were hastily and poorly conceived?
- Will he include any criticism, veiled or direct, of Higher Education Commissioner James Purcell and/or the Board of Regents?
- Will he recycle any of jokes from his Washington Gridiron Club speech? Heads up, Governor: Eric Holder will not be attending.
- Will he repeat, with a straight face, his oft used line that his administration has “zero tolerance” for corruption?
- How many times will legislators applaud his remarks?
- Is Jindal’s tax swap just an elaborate payday loan scheme? (bobmannblog.com)
- Bobby Jindal Approval Rating Poll Shows Popularity Slump – Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com)
- Gov. Bobby Jindal Takes a Popularity Hit After Proposing Bold Tax Plan for Louisiana (blackchristiannews.com)
- The Jindal plan: taxing haircuts, yard care, basic cable – just about everything (bobmannblog.com)
- Bobby Jindal’s plan to kill Louisiana’s income tax hits a major snag (shortformblog.com)
- Lucky Duckies: Jindal tax plan forces poor to pay their fair share (bobmannblog.com)