The brilliant Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, recently gave an excellent interview to the Economist wherein he discusses standing up to Russia, facing down radical Islam and fixing our problematic immigration system.
In portions of the interview that did not appear on video, Governor Jindal had some other very interesting things to say about reforming American education, simplifying and cutting taxes and making Louisiana (and America) as business-friendly as possible. He also hit President Obama for his failures in helping to revive the American economy and for the disaster that has been Obamacare.
The Economist: The national growth rate is picking up this year, unemployment is down, wages are starting to rise. Things are looking better than they have for some time. What do you think should be done at the national level to accelerate the growth rate?
Bobby Jindal: Well a couple of things. One: we need to raise our expectations. I know the President likes to say that we are in the middle of a recovery, but he doesn’t like to comment on the fact that we have [one of the lowest] workforce participation rates [for] over three decades. A lot of people have dropped out the workforce, many in the middle class have not seen significant income increases, many of this President’s promises haven’t been kept. He told us he was going to cut our average family [health-insurance] premiums by $2,500 and that hasn’t happened. So yes, we’re doing better than we were [but this is] certainly not the kind of recovery you would expect after such a protracted and deep recession.
Several things we can do nationally to accelerate the growth. One of the things we’ve seen in Louisiana is we’ve seen a resurgence in good-paying manufacturing jobs with the shale revolution, with the falling price of natural gas, the increase in the production of oil here in the United States. We have the ability to bring back good-paying manufacturing jobs that left our shores so for example, you see steel companies, fertiliser companies or chemical companies are willing to invest in our country and they’re willing to create jobs that pay $50, $60, $70, $80,000 a year. These are blue collar jobs, technical jobs, they don’t necessarily require four-year college degrees but they do require trained workers. This President takes credit for rising energy production but he has stood in the way of that production on federal lands and water, [and] he has stood in the way of the Keystone pipeline.
Secondly our tax code. We’ve got the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. [Yet] because of this crony capitalism in terms of the tax loopholes, rebates, credits and exemptions that’s not the rate that many folks end up paying. We need to reform our tax code and to lower the rates, make ourselves more competitive.
A third thing is to look at the regulations coming out of the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] in terms of how they’re slowing down our economy, look at the taxes and the regulations coming out of HHS [the federal department of Health and Human Services] and Obamacare, we need to have a more business-friendly approach when it comes to encouraging people to create good-paying jobs here in America.
The most important opportunity we must not miss right now is this energy renaissance because this is potentially a game-changer for our economy. When you look at where energy prices and supplies are today compared to where they were, for example, when I first took office, nobody predicted this rapid of a decline in prices. Nobody expected this rapid of an increase in supply, even those in the middle of the show that’s fracking. We need to make sure we don’t miss this opportunity because many of these companies are thinking about making once-in-a-generation investments. Nucor Steel, for example, is now in the process of a five-phase project in south-east Louisiana. They’ve built the first phase and if they do all five phases that’ll be over $3 billion, over 1,000 jobs, over $70,000 on average a year in compensation. And this was a company that was looking to build this steel mill in Brazil.
We have a President that says to business leaders: “you didn’t build that.” And he looks at businesses and piles on more regulations, more taxes and makes it harder for them to create jobs and chances and that’s not good for the middle class. The American dream has always been that the circumstances of your birth don’t determine your outcomes as an adult. This President seemingly wants to make the American dream about redistribution and more government spending and borrowing. To me that’s a very dangerous trend and one we’ve got to reverse.
The Economist: You mentioned Obamacare. You’re a health [policy expert] by training and you have a detailed plan for repealing and replacing Obamacare. How would you describe that plan in a way that might make Americans think “yes, that’s better than what we’re getting at the moment?”
Bobby Jindal: Yes we want to repeal all of Obamacare. There are some Republicans that don’t want to do that. They want to keep some of the tax increases, some of the entitlement spending. We say that we need to repeal it all.
The most important part of our plan is that it focuses on what the American people care about the most, which is reducing costs so that their healthcare can be affordable. We empower the patient and their doctor and their provider to be in charge instead of putting government bureaucrats in the way. The whole point of our plan, and there are several detailed policies, from tax code changes to being able to buy insurance across state lines and voluntary purchasing pools, so that individuals own their insurance. They can keep it when they move across jobs or move across states.
In 2008, when then Senator Obama was running for office, he sounded like a conservative. He told then Senator Clinton “we don’t need an individual mandate because the issue is affordability.” He then told Senator McCain “we don’t need a Cadillac tax on more generous healthcare plans”—two elements by the way that are actually in his legislation, in Obamacare. Then candidate Senator Obama said that “we need to focus on reducing costs.” He was right as a candidate, he’s been wrong as a president.
[According to] independent analysis of some of the components of our plan it could reduce costs for families, it could reduce premiums by $5,000 compared to where we are today. It would cover the expanded coverage by, again according to independent estimates, as many as 9m people. There’s more flexibility in the states, more accountability in return for less red tape.