Melissa Harris Perry
updated 2/10/2013 4:48:19 PM ET 2013-02-10T21:48:19

Since his national debut, Jindal has made an overwhelming number of decisions in Louisiana that sparked heated response from concerned observers. Host Melissa Harris-Perry addressed these decisions in an open letter to Jindal in November, which coined the hashtag, "#FBJ": Forget Bobby Jindal.

As the public waits for President Obama’s fourth State of the Union (SOTU) address on Tuesday night, Sen. Marco Rubio is preparing to deliver the Republican response to the speech.

Besides Rubio there remains significant attention on another member of the Republican Party: Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. The governor became a recognizable national figure after he delivered his (unimpressive) response to the president’s 2009 SOTU address. Before the blunder, hopefuls were considering Jindal as a viable 2012 GOP presidential candidate.

Since his national debut, Jindal has made an overwhelming number of decisions in Louisiana that sparked heated response from concerned observers. Host Melissa Harris-Perry addressed these decisions in an open letter to Jindal in November, which coined the hashtag, “#FBJ”: Forget Bobby Jindal. As we fast-forward to 2013, the governor is still in the news for his questionable policy changes.

Harris-Perry discussed with her panel the motives behind Jindal’s actions.

On Jan. 29, Gov. Jindal sent a note to the president via the Washington Post requesting a meeting about Medicaid to “give states more flexibility” in deciding the future of the program. This op-ed was published just as Jindal’s new Medicaid cuts went into effect in his own state. “Over the last five years, governor Jindal has cut Medicaid every year,” said Louisiana senator Karen Carter Peterson to the panel. She described the low eligibility rates in the state–one of the lowest in the country–and how this, in addition to Jindal’s other political ideaologies, is ”to the detriment of our citizens.”

Being Different author Rajiv Malhotra believes that all of the governor’s actions are to propel him to the forefront of 2016 ballot, whether or not they benefit the residents of Louisiana. Thus far, Jindal has willingly transformed into whatever the GOP needed him to be. “[Bobby Jindal] became as white as he could except for his skin color,” said Malhotra. “He’s uncomfortable being an Indian-American; he’s rejected that…except when it comes to fundraising.” Malhotra noted that Jindal was easily able to reject his ethnicity, until recently when the Republican party realized they needed to be “less white” in order to win the masses.

“The Republican Party actually does have more minorities and governorships than the democratic party does,” clarified Patrick Millsaps, former chief of staff for Newt Gingrich in 2012. Although opposed to some of Jindal’s proposals, he explained the inaccuracy of attributing the governor’s faults to race relations and identity versus the real issue: budget decisions. However, Jindal’s polictical decisions are called into question when his authenticity is challenged.

Democratic strategist John Rowley expanded on Millsaps stance and mentioned the problems Jindal will face in this “era of authenticity.” He listed several instances in which Jindal put himself at a disadvantage. ” [He] changed his religion, he changed his name…he’s changed some of his policy positions–he’s even changed his campaign tactics,” said Rowley.

Atop of the many changes Gov. Jindal is responsible for, he proposed yet another that will significantly impact each resident of Louisiana. This time, aside from Medicaid, Jindal is suggesting a tax reform that will eliminate state income tax, and increase sales tax instead. This proposal added to existing laments from the lower class, since a more signifcant proportion of their budget will be spent on consumer goods while the wealthy get a tax break. Although the proposal is in it’s early stages, it is enough to cause a stir in Louisiana and gather attention from the rest of the United States.

Video: Why Bobby Jindal has made himself impossible to forget

  1. Closed captioning of: Why Bobby Jindal has made himself impossible to forget

    >>> followers of the nerdland #know about another letters i have to bring out today, #fbj, and the last letters standing for bobby jindal , and he comes from my home state , and if i could forget to wish him away, because lately if you live in l.ouisiana or just watching the super bowl coverage and therefore must keep looking at the television about louisiana , there is bobby jindal who has made himself in the possibility of his presidential run in 2016 impossible to forget. in a recent " washington post " editorial, governor jindal appealed to president obama for a meeting to advice him on how to fix medicaid and pleading for quote, plexability for the states to make their own decision about the program. well, thanks to recently announced cuts in louisiana 's medicaid programs, we know what bobby jindal 's idea of flexibility lacks like. if you are a poor person living in louisiana and living with hiv, you will lose your case management visits and if you are a low income mother, you can say good-bye to the home care visits by a nurse for your newborn, and if you are need of services, forget them, and if you are a nursing home resident and you need speech therapy, you can say good-bye to that. thank you, bobby jindal . this in a state with the highest poverty and the lowest rates of insurance, and for his hopes of being president one day, you can forget it bobby jindal , fbj. and joining me is patrick milsap and majev malhotra, an active leader in american indian affairs. and i want to start with you, majev, because you wrote a piece in the " washington post " about my governor saying that indian americans are dismayed to see that he has done knotting for the community while soliciting us for campaign funds, and he has moreched at an earlily age that people of his conservative state would elect.

    >> well, the indian americans are overwhelmingly supporting president obama , and in fact, 84% of the indian american vote went for president obama , and so that tells you the ideology and the values and the thinking of the american indian is opposite of jindal . so jindal representing the extreme right wing has done two shifts. the first shift he did was when he entered politics, and converted himself to an extreme version of christianity, and wrote to president bush that this conversion is going to drive his and guide his political career and got some endorsements and became as white as he could except for the skin color . his manners --

    >> and you used passing to describe him?

    >> yes, because the american experience being one of immigrants and new people coming to the country is an experience of groups forming identity as americans and different kinds of americans , and the indian american group is a new one and still in the early stages of defining who we are, and so most of us are quite dismayed at the sellout and the hypocrisy of jindal , because on the one hand, he has distanced himself from the indian american community except for getting funds from them, and on the other hand, very recently, the republican party has an identity crisis , and realizes the need to be less white, and suddenly, he flips around and says, i'm the guy.

    >> i want to come to you on this because this is one of the lessons of the republican party for 2012 and we have a deep bench of republicans of color, and nikki haley and susana martinez is on it and my gov governor bobby jindal is on it, but when you hear of the authenticity claim that is problematic, what is the republicans hoping that the bench of republican color will move them into the next arena.

    >> okay. let's do a positive and having an elected official in louisiana that is not under federal investigation is a huge thing.

    >> we are big on that.

    >> and in bobby jindal 's favor, he is not being investigated right now.

    >> well, sometimes it takes a couple of years.

    >> well, you never know. and secondly, and the republican party actually does have more minorities in governorship than the democratic party does.

    >> yes.

    >> and the concern about what bobby jindal is doing is to attaching the budget concerns and when you list the things that he is talking about, there is tough, and when you talk about people with hiv not getting treated, that is a hard thing, but that is a financial issue, and to attach that as to that makes him more white or less white, i don't know if that is a fair assessment.

    >> that is fair.

    >> and here is wone thing, all right -- let me jump in. louisiana has the second highest black population in the country as you know. and talking about a state that are poor, and going to disproportionately bear the brunt of the cuts were not african- americans , this would be entirely different conversation. mississippi is 32%, and louisiana is 33%.

    >> i watched bobby jindal all of the way from back when he converted from a hindu. i consider myself sadly a jindalologist, and as he tries to become a national figure, we are in an era of authenticity of politics, and he will have problems, because he not only changed the religion, but the narnlgs and he was in the bush administration on health and changed some of the policy positions, and he has even changed campaign tactics and the reason he did not get elected governor and kathleen blanco did is because he was the only governor at the time who would not attack somebody, so he has evolved. i am not claiming every one of these things, but the third child, he was mysteriously there and delivered the third child, and i don't know that any or any of the all things lack authenticity, but when you add them together and watch him perform, and he is like the republican al gore of in terms of being --

    >> or john kerry or something. i want to bring in state senator karen carter peterson of louisiana and chairwoman of the louisiana democratic party , and i want to bring her in, karen , on this question, patrick said, lo look, and this is fair, because we do have difficulties around this with black representatives as well, but like you don't want to attach some racial or ethnic authenticity on the one hand with policy positions on the other, but the fact is that he's making choices that are over and over again just borne by poor people and they are overwhelmingly people of color in our state .

    >> look, melissa, just do a fact check , and over the last five years governor jindal has cut medicaid every year. louisiana has won one of the lowest eligibility levels in the country. 12% of the poverty level for those people over age 19 not disabled and not pregnant with respect to eligibility for medicaid . that is is ridiculous. his political ideology and ambition has been paramount in any decision he has made. it has been to the detriment of the citizens.

    >> and look, part of this for me, and again, it is not to say, oh, is he authentic or not, but rather, there is a political point to the authenticity, right? that the issue is that four republicans and when you put bobby jindal forward, it is with the sense of a more compassionate conservativism and yet, we see no passion in how he is crafting health care .

    >> he is a rick perry in his skin, and he is uncomfortable. he has rejected indian american , and rejected the ethnicity with the groups except when it comes to fund-raising and now that the republican party needs somebody who will represent diversity or hoist as a diverse person, he wants to stand up.

    >> well, in some ways rick perry got rick perried because he was compassionate in two spaces, he had a position on guard sill that was a common sense reasonable position over which he was attacked and then initially commonsense position on immigration and the issue of the dreamers basically in the public schools in texas, both of which got him torpedoed.

    >> well, can we -- we have two topics, and two things that i would like to divide up, and number one is talking about poverty, and then talking about neighborhoods of color as if those are synonymous. i think that that --

    >> well, you hang out in louisiana and you know that the layover.

    >> i understand that, but to assume, and statistically, it is the case, but to assume that people of color is going to be in this other, i can't stomach that, so let's talk about how you deal with poverty and i live in one of the poorest congressional districts in america, and the other thing that we have to separate out is bobby p jindal the potential presidential contender and bobby jindal the governor and you keep saying that these are not compassionate moves, but louisiana has a balanced budget requirement, and if you cut from one to put somewhere else, and so what other programs --

    >> well, how about raising revenues. so i hear you and one possibility and i will come back to karen about this, and one possibility is raising revenue and we know that louisiana has one of the most regressive tax plans and the governor is encouraging a more regressive one, because it lays on top of the sales tax . sales tax means that the poor people go to buy the consumer goods and the groceries and end up playing a higher proportion of the budget while at the same time we are cutting the taxes for the wealthy and karen , you are there in the state legislature , so how much of this is about the ecomonic of it and how much of it is about the ideological positions for him to go from jindal the governor to jindal the president.

    >> well, there is no doubt this is for 2016 . a specific example is that two years ago the governor was unwilling to raise the tobacco tax in louisiana . the money while all of the republicans across the state whether it was charlie crist or haley barbour in mississippi were willing to raise the tobacco tax because of tough time, and he said not only would he veto it, but they had to pass a constitutional amendment to raise the tax on it. we have the low nest the country. and now as he wants to eliminate taxes and corporate taxes , but on sales taxes , he is putting on the table right now, i'm interested in increasing the tobacco tax, and this is right there the difference of the ideology and the flip-flopping -- go ahead.

    >> well, interesting and we will take a quick break and continue to talk about louisiana and broaden it out, because part of what is going on here is the fact that the south is a one-har pi town. -- one-party town. wow. [ buzz ]


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