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GOP Electorate Passes on Guy Who Turned Around Disastrous State

Today’s Morning Jolt is a wee bit cranky.

A Stupid GOP Electorate Takes a Pass on the Best Governor in the 2016 Field

Alright. I’m ready to just burn down the primary process.

Do you why I was such a big Bobby Jindal fan? Look at the condition of his state the day he took office, and look at the condition of his state now. Yes, Jindal’s approval rating is way below its peak, and two-thirds Louisianans think the state is headed in the wrong direction. I’ll explain more on that in a bit. But let’s take a time machine back to 2007, right before Jindal was elected.

Democratic governor Kathleen Blanco had performed so abysmally during Katrina and its aftermath, she chose to not run for reelection. The state-run program to distribute federal disaster relief funds was in typical disarray. By January 2007 – 17 months after Katrina! — fewer than 250 of an estimated 100,000 applicants had received payments from the program. New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin was still talking about keeping his devastated locale “chocolate city.” (In 2014, Nagin was convicted on twenty of twenty-one charges of wire fraud, bribery, and money laundering related to bribes from city contractors before and after Hurricane Katrina; he was sentenced to ten years in federal prison.) The FBI raided the local congressman’s home and found $90,000 cash in his freezer; he was later sentenced to 13 years in prison. Eighty percent of New Orleans flooded, and 70 percent of homes were damaged. High crime, failing schools, a state government gripped by incompetence and corruption… You think the United States of America in 2015 is a mess? Louisiana in 2007 was in as bad a situation as any state in the union has been in the past fifty years.

Look at Bobby Jindal. Just look at him. He’s 90 pounds soaking wet, he speaks a million words a minute, and he’s got the brains for Oxford and can’t hide it at all. When he’s not nerdy, he’s square; he chose to be called “Bobby” because he liked the character on “The Brady Bunch.” A state that still reveres Huey Long the way the Turks revere Ataturk was never going to give a guy like him the keys to state government unless they were desperate and looking for a miracle.

So they put Bobby Jindal behind the wheel and damn, did he perform. Fed up with government corruption? Jindal recognized that nothing would work if you didn’t fix that first:

Louisiana’s dramatic jump was rooted in the state’s poor performance in 2006, when it was ranked as number 44, with only 43 points. The disappointing score motivated Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to push a sweeping ethics reform package soon after entering office in January 2008. He signed the bills in the package over a period of several days beginning March 3, 2008, and the new laws took effect this past January. They require all lawmakers to report their outside financial interests — the first time such disclosure has ever been required in Louisiana. As a result of Jindal’s initiative, Louisiana has rocketed to the top of the Center’s rankings, with 94.5 points, earning the top slot among all 50 states.

Then there’s the economy. Here’s Forbes in 2013:

Louisiana has become one of the most attractive states to do business across a wide spectrum of both traditional and burgeoning industries. This is in large part due to governmental reforms and economic development efforts that were executed in 2008, at a time when most states were pulling back on those efforts due to the beginning of the economic recession. In the past four years, the state has improved on all major business climate rankings, excelling on several lists among the top 10, and luring in dozens of economic development projects that are creating more than 63,000 jobs and over $28 billion in new capital investment.

Just last month, New Orleans was ranked no. 1 overall in economic recovery out of the largest 100 metro areas in the United States, according to the Brookings Institution.  Specifically, the Louisiana city came out first in employment, first in Gross Domestic Product output, 87th in unemployment, and 26th in housing prices.

Did Jindal have some wind at his back for much of his first term with higher oil prices in his oil-rich state? Sure, and with oil prices coming down, it’s hurting the state’s economy, one of the reasons for gloom in Jindal’s second term.

Do you like school choice? Jindal pushed for the biggest expansion anywhere. Do you like big, sweeping, honking reforms that actually improve schools where they were previously disastrous failures? Look to New Orleans.

Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina wiped out huge swaths of the city’s infrastructure and displaced its population, a disaster that paradoxically gave the city the chance to redesign its failing school system. Rather than re-create the neighborhood-based schools that had recapitulated generations of poverty, the city created a network of public charter schools. The charters, which have open admission and public accountability, have produced spectacular results. Before the reforms, New Orleans students — like overwhelmingly poor students in most places — lagged far behind more affluent students. Since the reforms, the achievement gap has nearly closed. The proportion of New Orleans students performing at grade level, once half the rate of the rest of the state, now trails by just 6 percent:

If immigration’s your issue, here’s the guy who talked about assimilation and could point to his family’s life experience:

“We need to insist people that want to come to our country should come legally, should learn English and adopt our values, roll up their sleeves, and get to work,” Jindal, the Louisiana governor, said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “We need to insist on assimilation. You know, in Europe they’re not doing that. They’ve got huge problems. Immigration without assimilation is invasion. That can weaken our country.”

He’s the one who kept telling people to not call him Indian-American, just “American.”

What the hell, Republican primary voters? I mean, what the hell? A record like that, and you don’t give the guy a second look?

The rest of the Jolt lays out why Louisiana Republicans turned on him; in part, Jindal started cutting portions of state government they liked, including privatizing the state’s hospitals, turning down the Medicaid expansion offered under Obamacare, and cutting funding to state universities and colleges. A lot of self-identified conservatives like smaller government… for other people.


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