This takes a bit of work. Just a little, but, you know, still. Sorry. The hard part is trying to wrap your head around the idea that this is somehow real. Let us then start earlier this week. Jordan Weissmann of Slate picks up the tale:
While Kansas has become a strictly tragic cautionary tale about what happens when a politician actually tries to govern in line with radical conservative tax dogma, Louisiana is turning into more of a dark comedy. Coming into this year, the state was facing a $1.6 billion budget shortfall. Unfortunately, Gov. Bobby Jindal—America’s spirit of hopeless presidential ambition incarnate—had signed Grover Norquist’s pledge not to raise any taxes. This left lawmakers in a bit of a bind, since cutting their way to fiscal health would have meant decimating public health or higher education funding.
Last week, however, legislators ultimately passed a budget that raised hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue, sparing hospitals and colleges. Better yet, Jindal says he’ll sign it. So, how’d they square this circle?
With a mind-numbing budget gimmick, of course ....
.... Jindal created a fake fee for students, and a fake tax credit to balance it out, which ultimately leads to no money changing hands, but apparently satisfies whatever agreement Jindal struck with Norquist to preserve the illusion that he didn’t raise taxes. “It’s an embarrassing bill to vote for,” one Republican state representative told the New York Times, demonstrating the sort of candor that only becomes possible once your own party’s governor has alienated the vast majority of his state and abandoned all pretense of rational policymaking in pursuit of an inevitable also-ran performance in the GOP primary.
It really is futility. The Hopeless Clown has yet to officially jump into the race, but it has been clear to many that his mind isn’t on his work as Pelican State executive. When last we checked behind the scenes of the Bobby Jindal Show, the governor was posing for the national stage, hoping to enact a high profile bill by executive order after the legislature said no.
But wait … there’s more!
No, really. This was last week:
Norquist is an anti-tax crusader who’s convinced all kinds of GOP policymakers to sign something known as “the pledge” – in order to get ahead in their party, Republicans agree in writing never to support raising any tax on anyone by any amount for any reason.
But occasionally, far-right policymakers discover that the mindless, knee-jerk commitment stands in the way of actual governance in the real world. Louisiana’s Republican-dominated state government, for example, is facing an enormous budget crisis, caused in part by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) tax breaks. Now the state can’t get its fiscal house in order, and as TPM reported, it’s asking Norquist to give Louisiana a break.
For months now legislators have accused Jindal of kowtowing to Norquist’s “no tax pledge,” which stipulates that taxes cannot be raised unless they’re offset by spending cuts elsewhere. And this weekend they’d had enough. A group of self-described “conservative” Republican state representatives took their complaints to Norquist himself, asking him to give them some wiggle room on raising taxes and to shoot down some Jindal-backed legislation that they say would set a “dangerous precedent” in how government could mask revenue hikes. […]
Sunday’s letter – signed by Louisiana House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Joel Robideaux (R) and 10 other state Republican representatives – asked Norquist to take into account the previous tax cuts Louisiana has passed in recent years and the effect they will have in the future when assessing whether the state is in compliance with the no tax pledge.
David Kurtz joked, “With all due respect to Grover Norquist, this is like begging your dealer for permission to go clean.”
And in this case, the dealer said, “No.”
Republican lawmakers in Louisiana are basically looking for permission to raise cigarette taxes and scale back some existing tax credits. Under “the pledge,” however, this counts as raising taxes, which means the policies are simply unacceptable.
This is a glimpse into how Mr. Jindal governs. The only real question is who would actually vote for such a presidency.
Image notes: Top ― Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) speaks to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, 6 October 2014. (Detail of photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) Right ― Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, speaks at a Politico Playbook Breakfast at the Newseum in Washington, DC, 28 November 2015. (Detail of photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Weissmann, Jordan. “Bobby Jindal Found a Mind-Bendingly Stupid Way to Pretend He Isn’t Raising Taxes”. Slate. 15 June 2015.
Benen, Steve. “Louisiana GOP pleads with Norquist on budget crisis”. msnbc. 9 June 2015.