CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Stop obsessing over the federal budget and start focusing on policies that benefit the middle class and stimulate economic growth. That’s the message Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has for congressional Republicans as the GOP charts a path forward post-2012.
In a speech at the Republican National Committee 's winter meeting a few blocks from where President Barack Obama was nominated for a second term, Jindal delivered tough advice to a party trying to rebound after a rough 2012 election cycle. That included an admonition to stop being the “stupid party.”
But in remarks focused on the need for the GOP to prioritize reaching out to, and persuading, voters of all political stripes and backgrounds, Jindal also offered pointed advice for Republicans on Capitol Hill.
“A debate about which party can better manage the federal government is a very small and shortsighted debate. If our vision is not bigger than that, we do not deserve to win,” Jindal said Thursday evening. “Today’s conservatism is completely wrapped up in solving the hideous mess that is the federal budget, the burgeoning deficits, the mammoth federal debt, the shortfall in our entitlement programs … even as we invent new entitlement programs. We seem to have an obsession with government bookkeeping.”
Jindal, who is chairman of the Republican Governors Association, made clear in his speech that he supports balancing the budget and that he would like to see the federal government adopt a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
But during a news conference with reporters following his remarks, Louisiana’s governor declined to back away from his criticism that congressional Republicans have placed too much emphasis on budget and spending issues and not enough on a message and a policy agenda focused on improving the lives of middle-class Americans and growing the economy.
“Obviously we don’t want the federal government to bankrupt our country,” he said. “But the argument that’s taking center stage is all about government; it’s not about the private sector economy. … It’s not about returning power to the states; it’s not about the things that we believe in as a Republican Party. It’s an argument just about zeros.”
“We need to be the party of growth; we don’t just need to be the party that’s focused on austerity; we don’t need to be the party that’s quibbling on the Democratic Party turf that’s all about the government programs in Washington, D.C.,” Jindal added.