After listening today to the Louisiana Governor respond to Obama's speech to Congress and the American nation on the economic crisis and healthcare, I suddenly realized that the Jindal-type of Republican should never, ever be placed in a position of governmental responsibility. Unfortunately, the Jindal-type dominates the national Republican power structure.
Governor Jindal simply does not believe in government. His references to the awful Bush Republican response to Katrina show that he just does not get it. Jindal seems to think that since Bush blew the federal government response to that disaster, therefore, government is inherently incompetent.
It is true that under Bush the personnel responsible for disaster relief were incompetent. Those individuals were selected for entirely political and ideological reasons. They did not believe in government. Essentially, they were Jindal-type Republicans! They were Bush Republicans!
If you believe government will always fail, you are very likely going to fail in the management of government. If politics, ideology and achieving power take precedence over implementing sound policy in your value system, you are a poor candidate for being good at managing government agencies or programs.
Jindal is certainly not alone in his contempt for using government to better the condition of our economically suffering citizens. Along with Jindal, the Republican Governors of Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Alaska have indicated that they would not accept federal money to extend and expand unemployment benefits for the citizens of their states. The reasons they gave are illogical and seem to be motivated by politics instead of real policy concerns.
The citizens of these states losing their jobs are going to suffer simply because these Governors do not really believe in helping citizens facing economic adversity not of their own making. Texas Governor Perry has never been concerned with helping the unemployed, in my opinion; because they do not write big campaign checks and Perry does not really believe in government. Governor Palin of Alaska along with Governor Jindal of Louisiana both seem to be more concerned with running for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination than in serving the citizens of their states.
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford should be more concerned that in December his state was losing 830 jobs a day than scoring points with the Republican Right and Michael Steele's Republican National Committee. Michael Steele is another Jindal-type Republican. In Jindal's Louisiana, they were losing 430 jobs a day during the same time period. Instead of dealing with the crisis in a constructive manner, both Governors (along with Steele) went into full political spin mode.
Nothing stimulates the economy more than expanding and extending unemployment benefits. Basically, all that money gets spent as soon as it arrives unlike tax cuts for the wealthy.
The Jindal-type thinking is not limited to Republican Governors and the Republican National Committee. Senator Ensign of Nevada gave an amazing interview today on cable with Chris Matthews where he frankly stated that he did not believe in the key principles of Keynesian economics where governments run surpluses during good economic times.
According to Keynes, they should pay off government debts and build rainy day funds to use during bad times. The economic policies of the Clinton-Gore era were Keynesian. They were working until Bush changed our government tax and spending policies and began giving huge tax cuts to the wealthiest of the wealthy during good times while running huge deficits.
Under Keynesian economics, governments should run deficits during bad times to even out the boom-bust cycles in the economy. Ensign falsely stated that government spending did not help end the Great Depression. This historical misinformation has become a regular talking point among the Jindal-type Republicans, Right Wing talk radio and the Fox News crowd. The real lesson of the New Deal was that government spending was not large enough (largely because of Republican opposition) until just before World War II to end the economic crisis.
Ensign and Jindal both want more of the same policies that got us into the current economic crisis. They want to play the same obstructionist role under Obama that the Republicans played under FDR during the 1930's. The Jindal-type Republicans are really Bush Republicans following in the tradition of Herbert Hoover.
If tax cuts for the wealthy actually created jobs, the last 8 years under Bush would have created the biggest, baddest economic boom in the history of mankind! Everyone would be working at huge salaries. It did not happen and will never happen on the basis of just more tax cuts. We need spending. We need higher incomes for the majority instead of just the wealthiest of the wealthy! We need controls on predatory lending. We need a re-industrialization program for the American economy, higher taxes for the wealthiest of the wealthy, the end of poorly regulated international trade, limits on corporate executive compensation, stronger consumer protections against price-gouging, new anti-usury laws and enforcement of anti-monopoly laws.
We have an income crisis in America. In 1929, the top one percent of Americans in terms of income had 29% of the total national income for that year. In 1979, just before Reagan was elected, that number had declined to just over 10%. Currently, that number has risen to around the 1929 level.
The Republican assault on progressive taxation along with wealth destroying "free trade" deals were combined with halting anti-monopoly law enforcement and repealing anti-usury laws to concentrate wealth. These policies have weakened our economy. Excessive corporate compensation and excessive industry deregulation (especially in energy and finance) played important roles in destroying the buying power of the American middle class.
The Republican and corporate assault on labor unions severely weakened the economic position of all members of the middle class including those not in unions. The unionization process was rigged by law and government regulation against workers attempting to bargain collectively with employers. Enacting the Employee Free Choice Act is a key to real economic recovery along with healthcare reform for the vast majority of Americans. The Jindal-type Republicans stand strongly in opposition to both.
When income gets concentrated at the top, it destroys the market for goods and services. It additionally fuels unsound speculation and investment bubbles. There is excess investment money chasing opportunities that do not really exist because there is not sufficient customer liquidity available for the output of those investments. We get asset inflation followed by severe deflationary pressures.
Facing problems like these, we cannot afford public officeholders like Jindal, Palin, Perry, Sanford and Ensign. Their approach to government could turn this recession into a depression even worse than the Great Depression.
Written by Stephen Crockett (Host of Democratic Talk Radio and Editor of Mid-Atlantic Labor.com).