Memo To Bobby Jindal: Republicans Have To Be the Party Of Austerity


Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who recently announced a plan to eliminate his state’s personal and corporate income taxes, says Republicans need to talk about growing our way out this national fiscal swamp we find ourselves in rather than cutting our way out:

“Our objective is to grow the private sector. We need to focus our efforts on ideas to grow the American economy, not the government economy. If you take nothing else away from what I say today, please understand this – We must not become the party of austerity. We must become the party of growth.”

“The Republican Party must become the party of growth, the party of a prosperous future that is based in our economic growth and opportunity that is based in every community in this great country and that is not based in Washington, DC.”

“The Democrats promise to be the party of “more from government,” but they are actually the party of less. They are the party of economic contraction, austerity and less from the economy. The Republican Party is the party of “more,” the party that creates “more from the economy.”

Jindal also says that Republicans don’t need to change their principles, but they do need to change just about everything else:

“We believe in planting the seeds of growth in the fertile soil of your economy, where you live, where you work, invest, and dream, not in the barren concrete of Washington.”

“I am not one of those who believe we should moderate, equivocate, or otherwise abandon our principles. This badly disappoints many of the liberals in the national media of course.”

“No, the Republican Party does not need to change our principles…but we might need to change just about everything else we do.”

Perhaps, from a marketing standpoint, Jindal has it right. Maybe there’s a new way to package conservatism. But I’m skeptical about this idea that we can grow our way out of our fiscal problems.

That sounds suspiciously like pandering to the political schizophrenia which got us into this mess to begin with. We have $16 trillion in debt, and a $1 trillion annual budget deficits, because Americans want more government than we’re willing to pay for.

Marco Rubio has made similar noises about growing the economy, instead of raising taxes, to increase revenues and lower deficits. It makes sense, but this isn’t a silver bullet, and we should know that given what happened during George W. Bush’s years in office.

For several years after the Bush tax cuts, from about 2003 – 2007, we had an expanding economy and rising tax revenues. The problem is that spending continued to grow, too, even under (for the most part) a Republican Congress and a Republican President:


We continued to run budget deficits under Bush because, despite a growing economy and growing tax revenues, spending continued to grow too.

Now, it sounds nice for people like Jindal and Rubio to talk about growing our way out of our fiscal problems. Because they make it sound as though we could keep all the government we have now and still address the debt/deficit problems simply by getting the economy going.

This is nonsense. That plan might lower deficits, but it won’t eliminate them. It won’t get us to a point where we might be able to start paying down the national debt. And it will do nothing about the trillions of dollars in unfunded entitlement obligations represented by Social Security and Medicare.

Jindal says Republicans can’t be the party of austerity, but he’s wrong. Republicans must be the party of austerity if they’re serious about fixing our problems.

The dilemma is that being the party of austerity probably won’t win any elections until American stop voting for more government than they’re willing to pay for.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Goon

    Eventually this mess is going to come crashing down on us. The dems seem hell bent on doing this.

    • The revealer

      Sooner or later, this shit is going to ruin us.
      The repubs/conservs are leading the way.

      • Rob

        At this point, pretty much everyone in Washington is leading the way.

    • The revealer

      This game the repubs/conservs are playing is gonna ruin us.

  • realitybasedbob

    When will the true believers abandon gop, put up a smaller tent and claim to be real Americans?

    • Rob

      It’s not really about ideology, boob. It’s about math.

      The numbers don’t add up.

      • realitybasedbob

        When was the last time gop did something that was mathematically pleasing to its fringe?

        • Rob

          The Bush tax cuts were good for the economy and resulted in growing tax revenues.

          That’s a part of it. But the other part is cutting programs we can’t afford. And it’s not math that’s merely “pleasing” but math that doesn’t result in deficit spending.

          • realitybasedbob

            bush borrowed billions to pay for his tax cuts.
            If that is what pleases the fringe, it’s news to me.

          • AV

            Tax revenues would have increased more quickly without the tax-rate cuts. Go check all post-WWII records, they’re on the web.

        • Rob

          After all, i thought everyone agreed that deficits were bad? Or is the Democrat platform pro-deficits?

          • realitybasedbob

            gop operate under the Raygun deficits don’t matter scheme.

            Just ask Dick.

          • AV

            Perhaps you need to learn some elementary economics? The basic macroeconomic principles are:

            Deficits generally imply “expansionary fiscal policy,” which is what you want in a recession.

            And when the economy is growing, you want surpluses, to counteract inflation.

            Only a child (or teatard) would think that “deficits were bad,” without giving the context.

      • Nope

        Very professional, Rob. Calling someone a “boob”. How am I supposed to take you seriously when you resort to 5th grade name calling…

        • Kevin Flanagan

          Sometimes you have to call a spade a spade and sometimes you have to call a boob a boob.

        • Yup

          First, national debt has increased more than $50,000 per household under Obama:

          ( – During Barack Obama’s first term as president
          of the United States, the debt of the federal government increased by $5.8 trillion, which exceeds the combined debt accumulated under all presidents from George Washington through Bill Clinton.

          The new federal debt accumulated in Obama’s first term equaled approximately $50,521 for each of household in the country.

          Second, the number of Americans not in the labor force has increased by roughly 8.3 million:

          The number of Americans age 16 or older who decided not to work or even to seek a job increased by 8,332,000 to a record 88,839,000 in President Barack Obama’s first term, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

          Third, there is now one person collecting federal disability for every 13 American workers:

          During President Barack Obama’s first term, the number of Americans
          collecting federal disability insurance increased by 1,385,418 to a record 8,827,795.

          As a result, there is now one person collecting disability in this county for every 13 people working full-time. Forty-two years ago, in December 1968, there were 51 people working full-time in this country for each person collecting disability.

          Fourth, food stamps enrollment has grown 75 times faster than jobs:

          Fifth, health insurance and health care costs are growing faster under Obamacare than before the law was implemented:

          Spending on health care rose 4.6 percent in 2011 — up $4,500 per person, on average — according to the nonpartisan Health Care Cost Institute. That’s up from a 3.8 growth rate in 2010.

          Health insurance premiums for individuals and families also climbed year-over-year, up 3 percent ($186) on average for an individual and 4 percent ($672) on average for a family, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

          During Obama’s term, between 2009 to 2012, premiums have climbed $2,370 for
          the average family with an employer-provided plan – a rate faster than the
          during the previous four years under President George W. Bush, according to

  • HG

    With republicans like Jindal, who needs democrats.

    • Wizard

      Two thirds of Congress are like Jindal.

  • Wizard

    This is what drives me crazy about the establishment GOP. If its important enough to buy, we should pay for it like War taxes and no bail outs. If not, then we should do without. In that regard, establishment GOP are far worse than Dems. At least with Dems you know what you are getting. With Boehner, Ryan, Cantor. McConnell and everyone connected to George Bush will screw us over in a New York minute. They have to go!

  • Snarkie

    “That sounds suspiciously like pandering to the political schizophrenia which got us into this mess to begin with. We have $16 trillion in debt, and a $1 trillion annual budget deficits, because Americans want more government than we’re willing to pay for.”

    Stop being so mean to the last Republican POTUS. He was used to having his daddy pay his CC bills and sailed on his family name in order to find new business ventures to destroy before becoming POTUS.

    Tell us again how you want to go to war with all the Ay-rabs, and about how you are deluded into thinking it’s free.

    Tell us again about how you want to pay for Lebanon’s healthcare, Iraq’s healthcare, Iraq’s infrastructure, Afghanistan’s infrastructure; but you think buying such things for Americans is an affront to the founding principles of this country.

    GTFAH. You have no credibility on the topic. Moreover, Americans don’t want austerity. They want to continue this neo-colonial project until we are bankrupted and overextended like all the former Eurpoean colonizers were towards the end of their imperial projects.

    Simple, magical thinkers. Liars. Political schizophrenia indeed.

  • Wayne

    Note to Bobby Jindal: To spite the MSM and what the Democrats have to say (redundant I know) the democrats are real the party of stupid. Witness all the lefty troll comments on this blog.

  • Neiman

    Jindal is mostly right. When the GOP gets on the austerity track they lose, because they ALWAYS come off as the Grinch Only Party, not giving a damn about people in need. STOP: Yes, I think conservatism and austerity are better for the country, so you can knock off that crap that I am not a conservative; but, because we cannot talk our way out of a kidnapping, even when the kidnapper only has a water pistol, being too stupid to walk and talk at the same time, we are unable to sell the limited government/austerity message to the people, it just makes us look mean and uncaring.

    So, get back to Reagan and the city on the hill, positive thinking message of job creation and creating prosperity. That will sell and as we produce the jobs and prosperity, we are in a better position to slowly cut the size of government, rein in spending and reset entitlements.

    Jindal is wrong calling for the GOP to turn its back on moral/family values issues, when we do that we are just conservative Democrats.