Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) proposed a new state sales tax to replace income and corporate taxes, and it went over like a lead po’boy. In a speech Monday, he backpedaled and withdrew the plan.
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.
And it may have sealed his fate as a rising figure in the GOP.
Grover Norquist, the intellectual leader of the anti-tax crowd in Washington, had praised Jindal’s plan as “the boldest, most pro-growth state tax reform in U.S. history.” He noted that it was particularly significant, because with Obama positioned to veto anything resembling the House GOP’s budget for the next several years, Louisiana might be Republicans’ best chance to show off their tax ideas on the state level.
“The national media and Acela-corridor crowd continue to focus on the bickering Washington, but they can learn what real tax reform looks like by looking to Louisiana,” Norquist said.
It didn’t turn out that way. Only 27 percent of Louisiana voters supported the plan in the latest SMOR poll versus a whopping 63 percent opposed. The idea didn’t even garner majority support among Republicans.
According to SMOR pollster Bernie Pinsonat, Jindal’s true approval is likely even lower than their mid-March poll indicated.
Here’s why I think his fifteen minutes are up: he proposed a plan that was right out of the GOP playbook to screw the poor while saying he was for fiscal responsibility. But he so overplayed his hand that even people in his own party hated it. Then, under mounting public pressure, he crawfished on it, taking it back and promising to listen to the public. That is anathema in the modern GOP, who have lived long and hard by the rule that you never, ever give in to the majority of public opinion (see Universal Background Checks).
But he’s young yet. He’ll learn. Give him a couple of decades and he’ll become as much of a hard-shelled crustacean as Mitch McConnell.