Bobby Jindal strikes an impressive blow for dishonesty

I’m embarrassed to say that I once had a little bit of respect for Bobby Jindal.  I mean, his retrograde social views notwithstanding, he seemed to be exactly what I was looking for in a Republican: intelligent, articulate and comfortable with public policy.  Granted, I would never vote for him, but it is critically important for the country that the GOP take governing seriously, and here was a guy who – I thought – did exactly that.

But as we’ve seen, Bobby Jindal is basically in the same boat as his Republican fellow-travelers, sterling resume notwithstanding.  And today, Jindal continues his downward trend with a virtually fact-free op-ed in the Washington Post (shockingly, the WaPo publishes deliberately misleading editorials from prominent conservatives!):

But memo to Washington: The debate on health care has moved on. Democratic plans for a government takeover are passé. The people don’t want it. Believe the polls, the town halls, the voters. Only Democrats in Washington would propose new taxes on businesses and families in the middle of a recession, $900 billion in new spending at a time of record deficits, and increased taxes on health insurance and products to reduce health-care costs.

Washington is the only place in the country that doesn’t realize that this debate is over. Democrats may march forward anyway, but they will do so without the people, and at their own peril.

Yet hope for meaningful reform need not be lost. Only two things need to happen. First, Democrats have to give up on their grand experiment and get serious about bipartisan solutions.

There are only two explanations for this kind of foolishness: either Bobby Jindal is a dishonest shill, or he is a deeply stupid man.  And Bobby Jindal is not a stupid man.  That is, he must know that most polls show enduring support for health care reform (and even the public option!), and he must know that the town hall protesters aren’t anywhere near a representative sample of the voter pool.  Indeed, assuming he’s been doing his homework, he must also know that the “$900 billion” in new spending is (mostly) deficit neutral, and that the only families that might be affected new taxes are among the wealthiest families in the country, and have seen their income grow dramatically over the past few years.  And finally, if Jindal has been following the news (and I’m sure he has), then must know that Democrats have given away months of time in an ultimately futile effort to forge a sufficiently bipartisan health care bill.

So, and with all of that in mind, I don’t think it’s particularly unreasonable to just assume that Bobby Jindal is being deliberately misleading.  In fact, it’s easy to see why he would use his valuable piece of op-ed real estate to obfuscate the health care debate – like most other Republicans, he has a vested political interest in seeing meaningful health care reform fail.  And like any good team-player, he’s just doing his part.

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10 thoughts on “Bobby Jindal strikes an impressive blow for dishonesty

  1. At least in terms of public opinion, I’m not sure that this particular op-ed demonstrates idiocy or dishonesty. Considering the drivel that generally passes for thought on the WaPo op-ed page, I am not too concerned with rigorous citations in Jindal’s piece. As with all politicians/ideologues/bloggers with attendant God complexes, absent polling data, most people assume that everyone else thinks the same way they do (from regarding health care reform as a basic human right to socialism). Consistent polling data also shows that, while a majority of Americans express support for reform (even a public option!), that those same people overwhelming say they are happy with their health care and insurance (usually at levels even higher than 1993). This seems to indicate to me that there is at least some balance on the question among the public, and that while Jindal may read too much into certain town hall straw polls, his point is within the “honest and/or not stupid” range. Furthermore, the 3/4 of the op-ed you removed from the above is not focused on the Democratic insistence to discuss the issue, but, rather, the inability of Republicans to offer new ideas to fill this moderate yearning for safe health care reform.

    Don’t get me wrong, this is nothing ground-breaking. However, if his opposition to “volcano monitoring” didn’t get you off the Jindal Express, I’m not sure this op-ed ought to….

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    • True, I didn’t bother to wrestle with the rest of the op-ed, though for what it’s worth, the solutions Jindal offers aren’t so much solutions as they are inoffensive band-aids which do nothing to address the broader structural problems facing the health care sector. Say what you will about the Baucus bill, but it at least provides a framework for moving forward.

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      • I think you give too short shrift to Jindal’s proposal. It’s actually significantly more far-reaching, so far as I can tell, than most of the GOP-sponsored proposals out there at the moment. It also addresses many of the structural problems, although it still doesn’t go nearly far enough in addressing the issue of decoupling employment and health insurance (the leading Dem proposals have this problem as well), which most experts seem to agree is the biggest structural flaw. But it addresses the problem of the uninsured with tax credits and by requiring that young adults be permitted to remain on their parents’ policies longer than currently allowed, both of which are big improvements over existing GOP proposals; they may even be more humane than individual mandates because they provide the uninsured with the tools to get covered rather than penalizing them financially when they fail to get covered. True, you’ll still wind up with some number of uninsured people, but then again under any of the leading Dem proposals you still wind up with some number of uninsured people since it will still be less expensive to avoid obtaining insurance and pay the penalty tax than to purchase insurance.

        Beyond that, I think that some of the other elements of the proposal do a decent amount in terms of bringing costs down. And whatever my problems with the GOP emphasis on tort reform, at least in Jindal’s proposal, it’s just one small element rather than the entire point.

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  2. Of all the lame arguments the GOP has tossed out against health-care-reform, “Nobody wants it” is the very lamest. It’s a specific application of the pernicious right-wing delusion that Obama and the Democrats are hostile anti-American agents who seized power in some kind of lawless coup. When your argument can be refuted with a simple reference to the fact that Obama and his fellow Democrats won an election, you know you need to work a little harder on it. Continuing to speak as though you represent the majority voice even when that i’s demonstrably not true — and therefore renders you utterly useless as a public servant — really puts the “base” in “playing to the base.”

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  3. it really doesn’t matter (to me, at least) whether anyone wants it. if it’s a good idea, let it be done; the voters can express their disapproval at the polls in 2010 and 2012.
    as to the other arguments about taxes and deficits:

    Jamelle, a health insurance mandate is essentially a tax. It forces you to transfer more of your income to the insurance companies. Granted, the government middleman is cut out, but I think any governmental coercive taking is a tax of some form. I’m guessing Jindal didn’t have the space to go into this distinction in his column.
    As to the deficit, let’s suppose that Obama is right that there is plenty of waste to cut out of Medicare (I certainly think that he is). If so, given the growing deficit there, should not any cuts go to pay our future obligations instead of adding new ones? Even if the health care reform itself is mostly paid for, it exhausts one more revenue source that the government could use to tamp down the deficit, which would be huge even without any health care reform. The answer most Democrats have to the fiscal question of “why not show us the Medicare savings first, THEN universalize health care” is that it’s not politically feasible. But that’s not a good policy answer.

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  4. According to Rasmussen (check it out here: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/october_2009/fear_of_losing_private_health_insurance_trumps_public_option ), Sixty-three percent (63%) of voters nationwide say guaranteeing that no one is forced to change their health insurance coverage is a higher priority than giving consumers the choice of a “public option” health insurance company.

    The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 29% take the opposite view. They say it’s more important to give people a government-sponsored non-profit health insurance option.

    Perhaps Bobby Jindal is a closet Satanist who believes Rasmussen when they say that people care more about not losing their stuff than in providing a public option to others.

    There’s always a third way!

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  5. In terms of Jindal’s point in the section you quoted here, I’d say that he’s making a pretty strange point given that it’s pretty clear that the Dems are still likely to get something passed with or without GOP votes. I don’t think it’s quite fair to suggest that he’s claiming Americans are against reform in general; instead, he seems to just be suggesting that Americans are against the Dem proposals for health care reform. While it’s true that individual elements, depending on how the polling is phrased can come up as being very popular, it’s also true that when people are asked what they think of the Dem health care proposals in toto, they’re very split.

    The bigger thing here is that Jindal’s target audience with this piece is pretty clearly not liberals or even independents. It seems to me that what Jindal is really trying to do is to force Republicans to get involved in the debate in a far more constructive manner than they’ve been involved in the debate. To me, the polling data that he’s really concerned about in this piece isn’t whether Dem health care proposals are popular, it’ s the data that shows that twice as many people think Obama has better ideas on health care reform (52%, give or take) than think Republicans have better ideads on health care reform (27% give or take), and that 3 times as many people disapprove of how Congressional Republicans have handled themselves in this debate (65%) as approve (21%). What he’s trying to do is to get Congressional Republicans to step up to the plate and engage in a way that changes those numbers; in order to do this, he has to first convince those Republicans that doing so will work to their political advantage; hence, the absurd claim that Dem health care proposals are DOA and the highly suspect claim about Americans being opposed to those proposals.

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  6. “Most polls show enduring support for healthcare reform”.
    You mean like this one: 46 % favor. 50% are opposed to Obamacare. That is Rasmussen. Or this one:American voters disapprove 52 – 39 percent of the way President Obama is handling health care. That is Quinnipiac. Or how about this one: Gallup poll this week found that 38% of Americans say their representative should vote for ObamaCare–40% want their member to vote against it.
    I know that math is hard, but your meme is ridiculous.

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