Rumor has it, Mitt Romney is seriously considering Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal as his Vice-Presidential running mate. While Jindal hasn’t regained the national fanfare he once had before his misguided 2010 response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, no one in Louisiana is surprised that his name is high on Romney’s list.
We always knew Jindal was going places. In fact, before SOTUgate, many of us assumed he’d be making his very own run for the White House instead of being number two on someone’s ticket.
For those who don’t know Jindal, here’s a quick rundown: At the age of 41, Governor Jindal has been involved in politics since he was 25 years old. He is a Baton Rouge native, Ivy League-educated, and a Rhodes Scholar. In 1994, he accepted a position with McKinsey & Company as a Consultant for Fortune 500 companies. McKinsey, one of the largest consulting firms in the country, has been accused of releasing partisan-leaning analysis of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. It also has a long-list of notable alum, including Jeff Skilling, who served as a McKinsey partner and eventually the CEO of Enron during its collapse.
In 1996, Jindal was appointed the Secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals in Louisiana. Per his biography on his website, he rescued the state’s Medicaid program from bankruptcy. In 1998, he was appointed to the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. He went on to become the President of the University of Louisiana System. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Jindal to the position of Assistant Secretary for the United States Department of Health and Human Services. In 2003, Jindal was defeated by Kathleen Babineaux Blanco in the Louisiana governor race. The following year, he was elected to Congress where he served until he was elected as Louisiana’s 55th governor in 2007.
Upon being elected as Governor, Jindal called a special session to address his promise to upgrade and enforce the ethical standards of elected officials in Louisiana. The New York Times’ Eric Lipton noted the seemingly hypocrisy of Jindal’s reform when the First Lady, Supriya Jindal, established a non-profit organization called the Supriya Jindal Foundation for Louisiana’s Children not long after her husband took office.
Before being elected governor, the majority of Jindal’s work experience came from the fields of education and healthcare; ironically, two areas that are facing tremendous hardships under his leadership. Since taking office, over 40% of money alloted for Louisiana’s higher education entities has been slashed. Over $600 million has been stripped from the state’s colleges and universities.
In addition, Governor Jindal has implemented a school voucher program that deregulates the K - 12 educational system in Louisiana. Jindal’s plan requires little to no accountability. Schools with no universal curriculum -- some teaching students from DVDs, some side-stepping over proven science and history -- will receive taxpayer money to poorly educate Louisiana’s children. Several lawsuits were filed against Jindal by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. In addition, an effort entitled “Recall Bobby Jindal” has been launched to remove the Governor and some of his legislative allies.
Since the Supreme Court found the Affordable Care Act constitutional, Governor Jindal has announced that he will not implement the law, despite the fact that Louisiana suffers from a serious deficit. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” when asked if he was going to simply not provide coverage to Louisianas who need insurance, Jindal responded with, “every governor's got two critical decisions to make. One is do we set up these exchanges? And, secondly, do we expand Medicaid? And no, in Louisiana, we're not doing either one of those things. I don't think it makes sense to do those. I think it makes more sense to do everything we can to elect Mitt Romney to repeal Obamacare.”
Jindal's refusal to accept ACA funds seems to not be deterred by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals' recent announcement that the department must face funding cuts that will have a financial impact on the state of almost $860 million. These cuts will overwhelmingly affect the uninsured and under-insured. Those suffering significant consequences are Louisiana's most vulnerable residents: the elderly, disabled and those with developmental disabilities. The Louisiana State University hospital system will lose $122 million in the 2013 fiscal year, combined cuts to the system will total a 24% reduction in budget.
Last year, Jindal was re-elected with virtually no opposition. Conventional wisdom suggests that was more of an indicator of the state of the Louisiana Democratic Party than Jindal's actual job performance. Jindal would solidify Romney’s efforts to court extreme conservatives, and he may also play to the idea that the GOP is becoming an inclusive party that welcomes various races and ethnicities. He would absolutely be the much-needed link between the Romney campaign and Evangelical votes, as Jindal has a long history of pandering to this constituency that may, otherwise, find discomfort in Romney’s Mormon faith.
Mitt Romney has said that he will run America like a corporation. Considering Bobby Jindal’s background is in education and healthcare, two systems headed for disaster under his watch, maybe Louisiana’s governor doesn’t have the work product to prove that he’s ready for the job.
Romney is headed to Louisiana early next week, let’s see if there’s any chemistry between the two.