By Robert Mann
I was talking with a friend the other day about Louisiana’s massive budget shortfall and the threat it poses to higher education, in general, and LSU, in particular. I observed that, eventually, Jindal’s loyalty to his no-tax-increase pledge to Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform would trump everything. In other words, if Jindal is forced to choose between raising taxes and letting LSU go under, it will be, “Bye, bye, LSU.”
My friend, who has one of smartest political minds I know, disagreed. Ultimately, he said, Jindal’s cronies on the LSU Board of Supervisors would trek to the Governor’s Mansion for a serious heart-to-heart with the governor. They would tell him the truth. They would tell him the game over was.
“Nice play, governor,” they will tell him. “You held onto the no-tax line for as long as humanly possible, but this is reality. You either support some tax increases, or our state’s flagship institution will cease to exist.”
Faced with that choice, my friend said that Jindal would finally relent. The potential press backlash in places like Iowa and New Hampshire would be so devastating that Jindal would have no choice but to break his pledge, raise a few taxes and save higher education.
Perhaps that is how the scenario will play out. But, as someone fairly close to Jindal told me today — and I’m paraphrasing here — “We worked hard, lined up all the right legislators behind a plan to raise the tax revenue to save higher education and Jindal has already undermined much of the deal by threatening to veto the state budget if it has tax increases.”
Indeed, on Thursday, Jindal threatened to veto the state budget if it is balanced using tax credit suspensions, which can be passed by joint resolution and do not need the governor’s signature.
If you’re Bobby Jindal and you’re spending about 95 percent of your waking hours each day plotting your path to the White House, you know one thing: No governor who raises taxes will succeed in the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire or South Carolina primaries.
If Jindal signs a tax increase, his campaign is over (yes, I know, it’s already over, but Jindal doesn’t know that).
If you’re Bobby Jindal, campaigning among rabidly conservative Republicans in Iowa, which is worse: closing or crippling some institutions of higher education (they just employ a bunch of overpaid liberal professors who indoctrinate our youth, right?) or signing a series of bills to raise taxes?
That is a rhetorical question. The answer for someone like Jindal is simply this: You. Never. Raise. Taxes.
Read his lips; he meant it when he swore his oath of allegiance to Grover. Jindal will not raise taxes.
In fact, he will go to Iowa and brag about how many more government workers he took off the payroll. All those former professors, instructors and staff members will just become talking points in a Jindal speech about how he reduced the size of government.
There are still many people — quite a few in the Legislature, I’m sure — who believe that LSU and the rest of higher education are too big to fail. Eventually, there will be a bailout, they say.
My answer to that? The people who once worked at Lehman Brothers thought the same thing.