Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal Explains His Vision for a Path to Victory in 2016

TIME
Zeke J Miller
7/14/14

Says GOP must put forward ideas to "earn the right to be the majority party."

Just days after Mitt Romney’s rout in 2012, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared that it was time for the GOP to “stop being the stupid party.” Twenty months later, Jindal is hard at work trying to make that the case.

The boyish-looking 43-year-old Republican is closing in on a decision whether to run for the White House in 2016, but first he is criss-crossing the country fundraising for GOP candidates and for his policy organization, America Next. The group has already outlined his proposals to repeal and replace Obamacare, with future plans on education reform and energy policy coming in the coming months.

In a Republican Party divided over tactics and policy, Jindal is trying to carve out a niche as the wonkiest candidate. On the stump at a fundraiser for Tennessee State Sen. Jack Johnson Sunday, Jindal reiterated his calls for the GOP to offer up policy alternatives, not just objections, delivering a thinly-veiled critique of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Dressed casually in jeans and a button down shirt, with an oversized New Orleans Saints belt buckle, Jindal appears unassuming sitting on a sofa backstage before the event. But then he starts talking. And fast. 180-words-per-minute fast, his much-maligned 2009 response to Obama’s first speech to a joint session of Congress notwithstanding. He touches on policy areas like education and immigration, healthcare and the Middle East.

He jokes that his father, an immigrant from India had an accent. “This is not an accent by the way,” he says in his thick Cajun drawl, drawing a laugh from the 500 or so attendees at the ‘Boots & Jeans, BBQ & Beans’ event. “This is how regular people talk.”

“You know we can get rid of debt, we can get rid of those taxes, those regulations, and the incompetence with a new majority and a new administration in DC,” he continues. “But the thing that worries me the most is this president’s relentless attempts to redefine the American dream.”

TIME caught up with Jindal in Franklin, Tenn. Sunday afternoon, where he was attending the fundraiser and meeting with donors for America Next to discuss his tenure and future aspirations.

The following exchange has been edited and condensed.

Vice President Joe Biden told the nation’s governors on Friday that the nation is looking to them to lead the country out of the current era of hyper-partisanship. What was your reaction to that?

I think there’s deep, deep frustration with D.C., and not just in the Republican party but across the country in the Democratic party as well. I think there’s a sense that the real divide is not Democrats versus Republicans, but it’s between D.C. and the rest of the country. I think ironically president Obama tapped into that in 2008. When he was running, when he talked about changing the culture in D.C. He talked about bridging the partisan divides. And I think there were a lot of voters who voted for him thinking he was being less ideological, he was being more competent, he wasn’t going to be hyperpartisan, and they are deeply disappointed.

Do you think that Republicans who say the party needs to stop trying to repeal Obamacare are leading the GOP astray?

Look, I personally think we have got to repeal it. I think we’ve got to replace it. I think we have to rip it out at the roots. And I think it is awful in terms of the effects you’re seeing. It was passed because of a bunch of lies. . . . I think as Republicans, yes we need to be consistent on repeal, but have to be very specific about what we are replacing it with. And I do think we do ourselves a disservice is all we say is we’re repealing it and not saying this is what comes next. The more people experience it, the less they like it. But they want to know what’s the alternative, they want to know, all right I know this isn’t working but what are you going to do. And that’s why we put our plans, our ideas forward. And I think it’s incumbent upon Republicans to do the same.

Eighteen months ago you warned the GOP against remaining the “stupid party.” Where does that stand now?

Three things: One I think we’ve made progress, but there is more work to be done. Second, I think it’s important we continue to be specific about our policy proposals. My third point is this: My big concern for our party is that in 2014 the temptation’s going to be—listen, I think Republicans are going to have a big year this year. All the trends seem to suggest that. And I think that we can take away the wrong lesson. My worry is that there are a lot of consultants in DC who are running around saying just run against Obamacare. It’s very unpopular, be against a president whose poll numbers are falling, and don’t give them anything to shoot at. That may or may not work in the short term, but there are two problems with that. One, that’s no way to govern. We have to earn the right to be the majority party for the long term. And second, if as conservatives we really think these are dangerous times for our country, if we really believe that, we need to be in the business of persuading people, trying to change the direction of government, getting the country back on track. And you can’t do that unless you are willing to put out specific ideas.

You’ve made education reform a signature issue in Louisiana, as have other Republicans on the national level. Do you think the issue is a political opportunity for the GOP?

I think it’s a huge issue for conservatives. And I say this seriously. I don’t think this should be a partisan issue. I think it’s an American issue. . . . The left has abandoned a lot of these kids and their families and they really don’t have much to say to them. You can’t tell them to just wait, because their kids only grow up once. Incremental progress isn’t enough. And what you’re seeing is you’re seeing amazing progress in a really short period of time. So for example in charter schools in New Orleans, in five years they have doubled the percentage of kids who are reading at grade level. This isn’t just theory—you can show dramatic progress quickly for folks. So I think it is the right issue substantively, so that’s the reason I think pursuing it shouldn’t just be a partisan issue. But secondly, certainly there are political benefits to Republicans, sure, and I think it’s a great example of how we can be consistent with our principles and speak to every voter.

What do you make of the surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border?

I think the president has played a role in helping to create the crisis we see on the southern border. It’s time for him to secure the border. I know he keeps looking for people to blame. He has to look in the mirror. The reality of it is this, we don’t need 1,000-page bills, right now we need to secure the border. As conservatives we talk a lot about this being the most ideological, the most liberal president. But I think the public’s also seeing an incompetent administration as well. We’ve seen that with the VA, we’ve seen that, I believe, with the release of the five prisoners from Gitmo. I think you see that with the border situation. I think you’ve seen that with the IRS. You’ve seen that example in case after case.

It’s time for him to secure the border, but I think this is also telling in that it goes to the competence of the administration. And I think that’s something that we’ve seen in Louisiana for a while. We saw it especially during the oil spill, the explosion in 2010. We saw the incompetence there. I think the rest of the country is seeing what we saw back then.

What’s the latest on your 2016 thinking?

We’ve said it’s something we’re thinking about, praying about. It’s something we’re considering. But we won’t make a decision until certainly after November.

Published by TIME.

What’s Obama’s Problem With School Choice?

Politico
Gov. Bobby Jindal and Gov. Scott Walker
7/8/14

Why would the federal Department of Justice cite the Civil Rights Act and the specter of segregation to try and block a school choice program where more than nine in 10 participants come from racial minority groups? Or use the Americans with Disabilities Act to claim another school voucher program discriminates against individuals with disabilities, without so much as a single complaint from a student or parent to prove their case?

Yet that’s exactly what the Obama administration’s Justice Department is doing—taking actions designed to stifle, and even block outright, programs that give children and parents more educational choices. Ironically enough, the DOJ even cited civil rights laws in attempting to deny parents the opportunity to move their children from failing schools—one of the foremost civil rights challenges of our time.

Legal arguments aside, the basic problem is this: Eric Holder, the Obama administration, and vast swathes of the left have forgotten the basic premise of education policy: It’s all about the children.

Or at least it should be. In both our states, we’ve maintained a relentless focus on making sure that children and parents have the best educational options they choose regardless of income. That’s why we support our states’ school choice initiatives.

In Wisconsin, more than 25,000 students took advantage of our choice initiative this past school year to study at a school of their choosing.

In Louisiana, we will offer spots to nearly 9,000 students in private school choice programs this coming academic year, roughly 7,000 more students than in 2011-12. Thirteen thousand applied this year, which shows how many parents in failing schools want an opportunity to explore other options for their children. They’re seeking out these opportunities because school choice works: More than nine in 10 parents are satisfied with the program—and they’re satisfied with their children’s academic progress because of it.

But in both states, Holder and the Justice Department have built roadblocks, undermining our efforts by attempting to sow dissension where none existed. The department’s attempted enforcement actions in Wisconsin violate past Supreme Court precedent and Education Department policy. In Louisiana, the Justice Department resurrected a nearly 40-year old de-segregation case, initially asking a federal court to block the choice program entirely.

The blind obeisance of President Obama and Attorney General Holder to the educational-industrial complex might seem like a game to federal bureaucrats in far-away Washington. But to a struggling single mother in inner-city Milwaukee, or a precocious young child in New Orleans, access to a good school means the difference between whether a child can live up to her full skills and potential—or will fall through the cracks to become another statistic.

It is our understanding the president and attorney general send their children to private schools. There is nothing wrong with doing that, just as there is nothing wrong with other children in families with less means having the same option and opportunities to learn.

And that’s really what this debate is about. It’s about putting parents and children ahead of government special interests. It’s about ensuring that all children have an opportunity to grow and learn—not those whose parents can afford to leave failing schools. And it’s about empowering parents to pick the school and method of learning that can best meet their child’s needs.

We hope that President Obama and Attorney General Holder will work with us to expand educational opportunities to students—particularly students in failing schools who desperately need other options. America’s future depends on it.

Published by Politico.

An Economic Lesson for Obama and Hollande

The Daily Signal
By Gov. Bobby Jindal
6/5/2014

President Obama continues his European tour today with a stop in Paris. As he and French President Francois Hollande discuss options to resolve the ongoing crisis in Russia, the weakness of the Obama administration on the global stage contrasts strikingly with the bravery shown by the D-Day soldiers, whose heroic actions 70 years ago on the Normandy beaches we commemorate this week.

But the most striking portrait of this Franco-American summit could be of two world leaders whose pretensions to economic knowledge vastly exceed their capacity to make smart policy choices. Take for instance Hollande’s decision to pass massive tax increases upon taking office two years ago. Last week, France’s Court of Auditors revealed that those tax increases raised only about half of their expected revenue, leaving a 14 billion euro shortfall in the French budget.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to most economists that when you tax something, you get less of it. Or, as even the new French prime minister, Manuel Valls, recently admitted, “Too much tax kills tax.” But this simple concept seems as foreign to Hollande as it does to Obama himself.

The economic results of the Hollande agenda have been as predictable as the revenue shortfall: zero growth in the first quarter of 2014 and record unemployment of 11 percent. To restore true growth—and raise more tax revenue in the process—France’s economy desperately needs structural reforms. Notoriously rigid labor laws—epitomized by a national manual exceeding 3,000 pages that micromanages every facet of the French workplace—discourages businesses from hiring. It’s little wonder that French workers living near Germany had to escape across the border to work, because they couldn’t find jobs in their native land.

Sadly, Obama seems intent on exporting this French model of economic malaise and ennui to our shores. At a time when labor force participation rate is at a 36-year low, the Congressional Budget Office concluded Obamacare will result in more than 2 million Americans working fewer hours or leaving the labor force altogether. CBO also found the president’s proposed minimum wage increase could cause as many as 1 million Americans to lose their jobs.

But the piece de resistance in the Obama administration’s economic assault came earlier this week, when the EPA released its proposed carbon emissions regulations. An analysis released last week by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce illustrated the potential damage regulations such as these could inflict: tens of billions of dollars in reduced investment, hundreds of thousands of jobs lost every year for decades and a whopping $586 billion in reduced household income for American families through 2030. Even in Washington, that’s real money.

But in Louisiana, we’ve tried to show that there is a better way—one that leads to quality jobs and robust economic growth. While Obama raised federal taxes by more than $1 trillion, we passed the largest income tax cut in state history. As a Democratic Congress rammed through trillions in new spending for Obamacare, we cut the state budget by 26 percent. And even as the EPA proposes new regulations that could decimate critical portions of our energy sector, we’ve worked to create a more predictable legal environment for energy companies in the state.

The record shows what that better way can mean for a state—the lowest unemployment rate in the South; 2 million jobs for the first time in state history; economic growth rates nearly 50 percent higher than the national average since 2008; and six straight years of migration into the state after decades of out-migration, as families are beckoned by jobs and the prospect of a brighter economic future to come home.

We still have more work to accomplish, but the achievements of the people of Louisiana the past six years have been nothing short of tremendous. Now just imagine what we could accomplish if Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi weren’t standing in the way?

That’s why I hope that, as they depart from the Elysee Palace, the message Obama and Hollande send about the policies needed to create economic growth will echo the words of President Reagan in his farewell address: “There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics—as government expands, liberty contracts.”

Published by The Daily Signal.

Bowe Bergdahl release: Very good news, very bad deal

Fox News
By Gov. Bobby Jindal
6/2/14

Let me say clearly, I am personally gratified that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is no longer being held hostage by terrorists in Afghanistan. We should never stop trying to secure the release of any American soldier who is being held hostage. I know all Americans feel this way.

I completely disagree, however, with the manner in which the Obama administration achieved Bergdahl’s freedom. This is a major departure from American policy, and one that could generate disastrous consequences for our soldiers, our diplomats, and any American who travels abroad.

When terrorists and criminals unequivocally know, as they did prior to this week, that the United States of America does not negotiate with them, they have far less incentive to abduct our citizens.

By its actions has the Obama administration inadvertently put a target on the backs of all Americans travelling abroad? Let’s hope not.

Refusing to negotiate with terrorists makes our people safer. Terrorists all over the world need to know that our interaction with them will be limited solely to our effort to destroy them.

The White House is now saying that Bergdahl’s release was nothing more than a prisoner exchange, which it contends is common in times of war. If we were to accept that notion, perhaps we should take a look at this so called “prisoner exchange. “ But the White House certainly doesn’t want you to do that.

When you look at the rap sheets of the five terrorists we released from detention at Guantanamo, it is ugly. These men were five hardened terrorists with blood on their hands, all of whom were deemed by the U.S. military to be “high risk” to return to the fight.

For instance, the military report says of Mulla Norullah Noori that “he led troops against the US and Coalition forces”, and that he “is wanted by the UN for possible war crimes.” Does anyone anywhere believe these five will now change their ways, and become peaceful men? Of course not.

And what of Mr. Bergdahl? The picture here is murky. It appears that he became very disillusioned with the war in Afghanistan, and he is quoted as saying, prior to captivity, that he was “ashamed to be an American” and that “the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools.”
It has also been suggested, though not confirmed, that he may have deserted, and that other American soldiers may have lost their lives in an effort to rescue him.

Then there is the small detail that President Obama likely broke the law – by failing to properly notify Congressional leaders -- in the way he released the five terrorists being held at Guantanamo.

The sad truth is that this aspect of the story is a yawner. Why? Because it is now well established that the president has no problem breaking the law or making up his own rules. For instance, under what legal theory did the president delay the employer mandate in ObamaCare? There isn’t one.

Finally, this entire episode flies directly in the face not only of long established American foreign policy, but it also directly contradicts what the New York Times and other publications note is the official foreign policy of the Obama administration – “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff.” But of course, in keeping with the style of this White House, they used a less polite word than “stuff.”

The president may have swapped much more than meets the eye here. To gain the release of one soldier, he may have agreed to the release of five terrorists who will kill again. After all, that is why we were still holding these five men until Saturday.

The president has swapped the intimidating certainty of “we do not negotiate with terrorists” that deters our adversaries. The president may have swapped our country’s honor and the trust our allies place in us that we really do mean what we say. And, finally the president may have swapped the assurance that America will do the right thing, every time, even when it is hard.

Published by Fox News.

New Education Department rules help elite college students at the expense of poor and minorities

The Washington Examiner
By Gov. Bobby Jindal
5/28/14

You have to hand it to President Obama: He sure does do a good job of socking it to the folks he claims to be helping.

Tuesday marked the end of the comment period on the Education Department's proposed new “gainful employment” regulations. While the administration says it wants to expand educational opportunities, the proposed rules would target community colleges and for-profit colleges -- institutions that educate disproportionately poor, minority, and working-class Americans.

But even as the administration imposes new burdens on schools educating non-traditional students, the Education Department would exempt all four-year colleges from the new rules. It creates a very simple bottom line: The proposed regulations will discourage these non-traditional schools from taking chances on students, and programs, that many elite schools wouldn’t even bother considering in the first place.

Compare that attempt to decimate opportunities for non-traditional schools and students with the taxpayer largesse lavished on many elite universities. Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that enrollment in certain types of student loan repayment plans soared by 40 percent in just six months. These plans, revamped and enhanced by Obama in 2011, cap graduates' repayment plans at a percentage of discretionary income, and forgive all outstanding loan balances in 20 years -- or 10 years for those in public service, as defined by the government.

The Journal also highlighted how elite professional schools are helping their graduates pay back their own student loans, until the federal government forgives their debt entirely. Until recently, Georgetown University’s law school website bragged that “public interest borrowers might not pay a single penny on their student loans — ever!”

It’s nice work if you can get it. Georgetown — with an endowment of “only” $1.3 billion — spent $2 million covering the student loan payments of 432 law school graduates, an average of $4,629 per graduate. After 10 years at that average amount, Georgetown would have repaid the federal government less than what one year’s worth of law school tuition costs now. But the federal government would forgive all the remaining debt — leaving both the borrower and the institution off the hook for loan balances that could remain in the six figures.

Georgetown’s law school dean claimed that his school’s publicly stated policy of allowing students not to repay a dime in loans until the federal government forgives them outright “doesn’t influence the prices the school charges its students.” If you believe that, I’ve got some land I’d like to sell you.

The message from this administration couldn’t be clearer. If you want to attend an elite professional school, you could end up having tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt forgiven by your school — and the federal government. But if you’re a struggling African-American single mother relying on a certificate program at a for-profit school or a community college, and you like your current educational plan — under this administration, you have about as much chance of keeping it as you do your health plan.

This disparity in the way the administration treats different methods of higher education ranks high on the snob scale -- but it isn't just mere liberal elitism. It is tantamount to redlining educational opportunities for low-income and minority youths. The first programs to disappear under the “gainful employment” regulations will be the ones that try to give Americans their first rung on the higher education and career ladders. As we've just seen, elite law schools are doing fine -- it's certificate and two-year degree programs that would be hardest-hit.

These policies aren't just unfair -- they're also short-sighted. Right now in Louisiana, we have more good-paying jobs than we can find workers to fill them. To ensure our economy achieves its full potential, we need more of the technical training, certificate, and other programs that non-traditional institutions can help supply. That's why our budget includes a new $40 million higher education grant program, with a particular focus on giving workers the practical skills they need to succeed in today's global economy.

Certainly, many students at traditional universities are struggling with rising debt levels, especially as they struggle to find good-paying jobs in the Obama economy. And it is also true there are bad actors in the non-traditional education community. But, the answer to both of these challenges includes more competition and choice, not less.

Like Obama, I was fortunate enough to graduate from an Ivy League school. But unlike the president, I understand that the universe doesn't end at the gates of Harvard Yard -- and our nation's educational opportunities shouldn't either. I believe in public service, but when even the Brookings Institution calls the administration's student loan forgiveness program “poorly designed,” and warns it could cost tens of billions per year, it's time for us to reorient our priorities.

Obama should not just spend time and money subsidizing those already at the top of the career ladder, but should focus on creating opportunities for those just looking to get on the first rung.

Published by The Washington Examiner.