Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bobby's World Is Falling Apart

No state was willing to go the route of full-blown GOP austerity for the 99% like Bobby Jindal's Louisiana.  His tax plan was the logical endpoint of Grover Norquist's wet dreams: the elimination of the state's income and corporate taxes, replaced by a massive hike in the state's sales tax.  And that would of course mean huge additional budget cuts in a state that had already made deep and damaging cuts to education through a voucher scheme to privatize schools and even shutting down a number of parish libraries.

But the people of Louisiana have finally had enough.  His tax plan to put the burden of the state's revenues on the poorest souls in a scheme that would almost certainly require even steeper sales tax hikes or more likely, massive new health care and education cuts in a state where both have been slashed by hundreds of millions of dollars already, all to give the state's richest a $25,000 tax cut each?

Dead on arrival.

Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA), considered a leading presidential contender in 2016, is suffering a political meltdown in his home state. His approval rating plummeted to 38 percent in a poll last week by the non-partisan Southern Media Opinion & Research, down from 60 percent just a year ago. In an ominous sign for national Republicans, the immediate cause is a sweeping economic agenda with strong parallels to the House GOP’s latest budget.

On Monday, Jindal scrapped his own proposal to eliminate the state’s income and corporate taxes and replace them with a statewide tax on sales and business services. His retreat was a concession to the reality that the proposal was headed towards a humiliating defeat — and taking Jindal down with it along the way. Jindal said in a speech to lawmakers that the backlash against his plan “certainly wasn’t the reaction I was hoping to hear,” but that he would respect the public’s wishes and start again. 

Those ideas are now opposed by a majority of  Louisiana Republicans, because the math is brutal.  Jacking up the state sales tax from 4 to 7% on everything, including "business services" was going to take a huge chunk out of the hides of small businesses, and big corporations didn't have loopholes to hide behind anymore.  Meanwhile, the poorest Louisianans would have seen their taxes jump by hundreds of dollars, and the middle-class would have seen an even bigger tax hike.  Meanwhile, the richest state citizens could simply avoid paying any state taxes altogether by buying over the border in Texas, Arkansas, or Mississippi.  The resulting tax gap would have left the state short by billions, meaning more cuts or more hikes.

The left, right, and middle have revolted as a result, and Bobby Jindal's political career is, for the moment, as dead as his tax scam.

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