Friday, January 16, 2015

You know who else was fiscally irresponsible?

Clancy DuBos really piles on here calling Bobby Jindal "the most fiscally irresponsible governor in modern Louisiana history." Clancy wonders how Jindal thinks he's going to explain himself out on the campaign trail. 
Well, not quite nothing — he is laying the groundwork for a quixotic presidential run. I’m not sure how he’s going to explain $1 billion in cuts to higher education, especially when he’s touting himself as the savior of public education in Louisiana. Then again, the national media rarely look beyond press releases, and voters in Iowa and New Hampshire have no clue what a liar Jindal is.
That is certainly true. The societal and media impetus to always "move forward" in politics will no doubt limit attention to the the carnage Jindal is leaving behind in Louisiana.

But, in order to better understand Jindal's... um.. optimism in these matters, it helps to look back and remember that his personal hero, Ronald Reagan's lasting legacy in California has also been a fiscal nightmare.

What is commonly known as Proposition 13, was a 1978 ballot initiative that severely limited the state of California's capacity to raise revenue via income taxes.  Like Jindal's reversal of the Stelly tax plan and his later failed "tax swap proposal", Prop 13  dramatically shifted the state tax burden in the wrong direction.
It immediately reduces property-tax bills approximately 57 percent by rolling back the maximum rate of tax to 1 percent of the property’s 1975-76 assessed valuation, and restricts futures levies to 2 percent per year. The initiative further requires a two-thirds majority in both houses of the state legislature to approve increases in any other state tax.

Howard Jarvis, the chief architect of the initiative in concert with Paul Gann, a retired real estate salesman, spent $28,000 to secure 1,264,000 signatures, more than twice the 500,000 need to place his petition on the ballot. And amid the hoopla of his lavish public relations campaign, a number of insidious provisions in the initiative were obscured. For example, Proposition 13 states that property will be assessed at current market value “when purchased, newly constructed, or change in ownership has occurred.”

As houses are built and change hands, they will receive far higher assessments than voters were led to believe. And because families move more often than such corporate giants as Standard Oil, Lockheed, Chevron, and B of A [Bank of America], the heaviest property tax burden must shift from the corporations best able to bear it, to individuals.
It also plunged succeeding California governors into a state of perpetually recurring budget crisis

By then, Reagan was long gone, of course. In fact, he was already out of office by the time Prop 13 had passed. Reagan actually raised taxes on multiple occasions during his time as Governor.   But his political legacy is universally associated with the "taxpayers' revolt" that Prop 13 signaled.  This is because Reagan was not only a public spokesperson for Prop 13, he had previously campaigned in favor of similar proposals.  This video shows Reagan, in 1973, promoting a "Prop 1" initiative which ultimately failed.

Of course, for Reagan, none of this had anything to do with fiscal responsibility. Reagan was merely building a brand.
Proposition 13 was a watershed moment in American history, the first crumbling of the post New Deal consensus that supported an activist government intent on educating its citizens and providing them with an adequate safety net. California’s own native son, Ronald Reagan, rode the ideological wave of Proposition 13 right into the White House, and launched an era in which Republicans successfully devoted themselves to crippling government at all levels for decades. Proposition 13 broke California’s government.
And so it is with Jindal.  Like his hero, Reagan, Jindal has used his governorship merely as an opportunity to burnish his ideological bona-fides as he prepares to spring into national politics.  Is that working out for him?  Right now, the national zeitgeist casts Jindal as a far-right joke.  However, if we look back, we might remember that in the 1970s, the national zeitgeist  viewed Reagan in very much the same way.


Nolaresident said...

Although I said at the lens article that yeah, he's delusional, he does have time on his side. This could be his audition for veep, but if it's not, then what is he going to do with himself after he's out as governor? He'll have to do something that keeps his name in the news, at least on the right.

Kevin said...

Our web comment this week came from a guy who lived in Massachusetts warning Louisiana not to count Jindal out, because -- as the commenter points out -- it was equally ludicrous for Massachusetts residents to imagine Michael Dukakis mounting any sort of run for the presidency.