Republican star Bobby Jindal has troubles in home state

Feb 26 2013, 10:04 IST
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Recent polls suggest that Jindal's once-formidable job performance rating has fallen below 50%. (Reuters) Recent polls suggest that Jindal's once-formidable job performance rating has fallen below 50%. (Reuters)
SummaryRecent polls suggest that Jindal's once-formidable job performance rating has fallen below 50%.

He has argued that the Republican Party is a "populist'' organization and that Republicans shouldn't be the party of "big anything.'' And he has said that the Republicans should "stop being the stupid party.'' It was a response to Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana, the failed Senate candidates whose controversial comments about rape and abortion helped Democrats win seats once viewed as guarantee Republican victories.

Jindal also has been clear that Republicans must not "change what we believe'' and he has suggested the party hasn't gone big enough in its argument against active government. "It's time to quit arguing around the edges of that corrupt system,'' he has said.

At first blush, Jindal's Louisiana priorities fit neatly within his party roadmap.

He's pushing to eliminate all corporate and personal income taxes, in favor of sales tax increases. He's refused to expand the Medicaid federal health insurance for the poor under Obama's health-care overhaul, and he's dismantling the state's unique public hospital system. He has privatized parts of the Medicaid program for the poor along with state workers' health-care plan.

He has dramatically cut the number of state workers, mostly by issuing contracts to pay private firms to do the same work.

For all his criticism of a big federal government, Jindal has approved its excess and accepted its bounty. When he was a congressman, he supported deficit budgets under President George W. Bush. Jindal, like every other governor, used U.S. stimulus money _ provided through an Obama law that Jindal assailed _ to balance his state budget for at least two years and, in many instances, he traveled to small towns to hand out checks to local government leaders, while sidestepping the explanation that the dollars came from federal coffers.

Despite the many program cuts as Jindal has pushed in Louisiana, he's feuded with his fellow Republicans in the Legislature who say he's not done enough.

Jindal's state government helped spend billions of dollars in federal rebuilding aid after multiple hurricanes, including Katrina. Louisiana just hosted the Super Bowl in a publicly owned stadium restored and upgraded with taxpayer money.

Particularly to outsiders, Jindal has styled himself as a technocrat. He has won plaudits for disaster management on hurricanes and after the BP oil spill. His command of policy details is obvious in his public appearances and, according to those with access, in private meetings.

Still, he carefully cultivates social conservatives. A Catholic convert

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