With Louisiana's Bobby Jindal and California's Arnold Schwarzenegger we have two Republican Governors, one who cares about the people of their state and one whose primary focus is playing political games. Jindal said that he would refuse on behalf of his state part of the federal stimulus money from the bill Obama put forth and was passed by congress last week. Schwarzenegger, on the other hand, is happy to get all he can for struggling California. Jindal is typical of the Republican party's approach to President Obama since his inauguration. No matter how Obama reaches out his hand across the aisle for bipartisanship, Republicans like Jindal and Mississippi's Barbour are more interested in playing political games to obstruct Obama than working to help their constituents. As reported by the New Orleans Time Picayune http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/02/jindal_catches_flak_for_reject.html Jindal said he would:
"…refuse $98 million for federal unemployment assistance because he said it comes with strings that would obligate the state to make permanent, costly changes in its law and would mean higher taxes and more administrative headaches for businesses."
Jindal is leading a coalition of as many as six Republican governors who say they will reject part of the stimulus money for their state. Most are using the same dishonest argument as Jindal. The truth was stated clearly by a Republican legislator from Jindal's state, Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton who the Times Picayune reports as saying "We should never put ourselves in a position where we say we don't want it."
Adley said he does not think the unemployment benefits need to tie the state permanently to the program and that the Legislature could control the program's impact in later years.
With Adley's statement, we have stripped away any legitimate reason for Jindal and the other GOP governors to reject stimulus money headed for their states. Their motive is purely obstructionist, purely political.
I disagree with Gov. Schwarzenegger on many issues, but on the issue of the stimulus its clear that the govenator has his eyes firmly on how to help the people of his state. As reported in the Washington Post,
Asked about Jindal's and Barbour's pledges to turn away stimulus funds aimed at expanding state unemployment insurance, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger quipped, "You just tell them that anyone that doesn't want to take the money: I'm ready to take their money and rebuild California."
Schwarzenegger wasn’t the only Republican governor who refused to play political games with the future of their state. Minnesota's Governor Tim Pawlenty and Florida's Governor Charlie Crist also have the right priorities. Said Crist in the above Washington Post article:
[the] state needs as much federal help as available for education, infrastructure, health care and transportation. "We plan to utilize it for the people of our state as much as possible," he said. "I'm thinking about people, not politics."
Nothing that Republican politicians do ought to surprise me anymore, but the actions of the Jindal six to play politics with the economic future of their constituents during one of the worst economic crises in the history of the country is surprising and revolting. The political games being played by the Jindal six will hurt those most affected by the economic downturn, the unemployed. The reason they are doing this? It is to try to hurt Obama and to try to prop up Jindal for a potential run against Obama in 2012. Jindal is trying to get all the publicity he can because he is trying to overcome an expected bid for the Republican nomination by Sarah Palin who has the name recognition from her failed Vice Presidential bid. So this entire episode consists of multiple layers of political games where the constituents of the states headed by the Jindal 6 are the big losers.