Louisiana Notes: PBJ’s Devious Game

It’s time to batten down the hatches and get ready for some bad policy making. That’s right, the Louisiana Lege is in session. Last week, Governor Jindal ostensibly gave up on his so-called “tax swap” proposal. It’s an exquisitely bad policy that would have eliminated the state’s rather negligible income tax in favor of a state sales tax of 6.25%. In Orleans Parish, that would have left us with a 11.25% sales tax. Everybody hated the idea so PBJ “parked” the proposal.

I’ll let my old pal Mark (Oyster) Moseley extend the automotive analogy. He knows from cars, y’all:

On April 8 Gov. Bobby Jindal parked his tax-swap vehicle. He exited from the driver’s side and admitted he had been speeding.

It was a big deal.

Bystanders were so surprised, they didn’t notice when Jindal hopped
into the backseat of a getaway car, tossed the keys to the Legislature,
and told them to floor it. Take us to the promised land of untaxed
income, he insisted.

That’s how it sounded to me, anyway.

Most of Jindal’s numerous critics have spent the past three months
firing at the governor’s vehicle instead of his destination. “His plan
doesn’t add up. It hurts the poor… etc.” (In my meandering, too-subtle
way, I tried to rebut those easy criticisms.) They shot up the plan until it wouldn’t run.

Do we understand yet that Jindal’s so-called tax-swap plan was only a
“sleeper,” to borrow a term from hotrodding’s golden age. The revenue
offsets in his initial plan were always completely negotiable as long as
they yielded an income tax repeal. The higher sales taxes, the closed
loopholes, the appeals to simplicity … all that crap was political
window-dressing. That’s why it kept changing.

Jindal’s overriding mission, though, has always remained the same: to
end the state income tax. As long as that is within reach, Jindal’s
“parking job” is only a tactical retreat.

As usual, PBJ is more interested in his delusions of 2016 grandeur than in what is best for the state. He’s tossed the ball to the lege with a wink, and encouraged them to eliminate the income tax. The Tea Party types among them would be thrilled to do so without any offsetting revenues. They call it “conservative reform,” I call it a disaster. They’ve been itching to cut spending and their callow, ambitious, and megalomaniacal daddy has given them the keys to the car.

Jindal is looking for an idea that will endear himself to the Koch brothers and all the right wing taxophobes in his party. “Parking” the proposal is apt to make it an even shinier bauble for them. If it goes down, he’ll blame the lege, if it passes, he’ll take the credit. The rest of us will be left to pick up the pieces when he hotfoots it out of state and spends even more time in Iowa and New Hampshire than he already does.

Much was made in the national political press about PBJ’s tanking popularity ratings at home. He no longer cares about those numbers. He has an eerie confidence that his confidence game will play well nationally. I think it’s misplaced but the mere thought of taking the GOP’s pulse increases my blood pressure to dangerous levels so I won’t try.

I remain convinced that PBJ will not be his party’s nominee for President BUT he has a pretty darn good chance of being the next losing Vice Presidential candidate who will never be President. The Gopers are desperate to look diverse without changing their views and PBJ is right up their alley. He’s as conservative as they come and will do or say anything to get elected. He may even embrace his own ethnic identity. Nah, that’s a bridge too far for “Bobby.”

I’ll keep you updated on PBJ’s shell game. Stay tuned. In the meantime, a brief musical interlude:

UPDATE:The income tax repeal appears to have died in committee.