Fox News host Sean Hannity praised Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's “great record as governor” during an exclusive interview following the official launch of Jindal's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Hannity ignored the massive budget deficit created by Jindal's tax cuts, as well as the economic woes his policies have inflicted on constituents in his state.
Hannity Hypes Bobby Jindal's “Great Record As Governor”
Fox's Sean Hannity: “Like Many Other” GOP Hopefuls, Jindal Has “A Great Record As Governor.” On the June 24 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity interviewed Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) about his decision to run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination and approvingly highlighted his record of slashing the state budget and cutting thousands of public sector jobs:
HANNITY: It's a growing field, but it-- to me, it's a strong field. You have a great record as governor, like many others. How do you separate from such a big crowd? Former governors, current senators, current governors-- it's a big, tough field there. How do you break out?
JINDAL: I'm running because we need to take our country back. Hillary Clinton, President Obama, they are trying to turn the “American Dream” into the “European Nightmare.” We need to rescue this country from socialism.
JINDAL: They don't think, in Washington, you can repeal Obamacare. They don't think you can have term limits. They don't think you can cut the size of government. We've got to do all of those things.
HANNITY: You think you can do all that? If you become president you will cut the size of the government? Real cuts, not just a reduction in the rate of increase?
JINDAL: I've actually cut the size of my budget in Louisiana 26 percent. We have over 30,000 fewer state government bureaucrats than the day I took office. We're a top 10 state in private sector job creation. [Fox News, Hannity, 6/24/15]
Jindal's Policies Have Been A Disaster For Louisiana's Budget, Economy
AP: Jindal's Tax Cuts Created $1.6 Billion Budget Shortfall. According to a February 11 article by the Associated Press, Gov. Jindal's persistent refusal to “roll back income tax cuts or ever-increasing corporate tax breaks” contributed to his state's $1.6 billion budget deficit. To avoid levying taxes, the AP found, Jindal “raided reserve funds and sold off state property” in a manner that Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne compared to a “Ponzi scheme”:
More than $1 billion of the shortfall on the horizon for the fiscal year that begins July 1 can be tied to Jindal's refusal to match the state's spending to its yearly revenue over his two terms in office -- as he also steadfastly refused to consider tax increases.
Jindal scraped together what he could from all sorts of funds: railroad crossing safety, artificial reef construction, housing programs and the blind. He pieced together money from one-time legal settlements and property sales, using it to pay for continuing programs. Lawmakers went along, and Louisiana has careened from one budget crisis to the next as the dollars either don't pan out or the sources of financing dry up and need replacing.
“Our budget has been full of sleights of hand -- it's almost a Ponzi scheme of moving moneys around, one-time money around, to serve recurring needs,” Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, one of the Republicans vying to be Louisiana's next governor, said at a recent forum. [Associated Press, 2/11/15]
Louisiana Lags Far Behind On Job Creation, Unemployment Rate. According to monthly data compiled by the United States Congress' Joint Economic Committee, Louisiana lags far behind the rest of the nation in job creation with an unemployment rate of 6.6 percent -- 1.1 points higher than the national average. The state also trailed the national average on GDP growth from 2009 through 2014:
[Joint Economic Committee, Economic Snapshot: Louisiana, June 2015]
CBPP: Jindal Vowed To Veto Tax Increase That Would Save Education Funding. Gov. Jindal vowed to veto a Republican-approved tax bill that would roll back some tax breaks so as to avoid further cuts to state education funding. According to a May 26 analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), Louisiana has already enacted severe funding cuts for public schools and universities in the state, reducing funding by 42 percent since 2008:
[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 5/26/15]
Newsweek: Gov. Jindal “Broke The Louisiana Economy.” In a June 1 op-ed for Newsweek, New Orleans journalist Stephanie Grace outlined the ways that Gov. Jindal's policies have harmed the economy of her home state. Grace argued that Jindal's policy decisions on deep tax and spending cuts were “transparently designed to build a national profile rather than meet Louisiana's needs”:
Gone are $800 million from the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly and $450 million for providing development incentives, and the rainy day fund has dropped from $730 million to $460 million on his watch. [Newsweek, 6/1/15]
Wash. Post: Jindal's Policies Are Deeply Unpopular In Louisiana. According to a June 6 article in The Washington Post, Jindal is “at open war with many” former Republican allies in the state legislature and business community after his refusal to engage with lawmakers “trying to solve Louisiana's worst budget crisis in 25 years.” The governor is also unpopular among his constituents, trailing an unpopular President Obama by 10 points:
Jindal is now so unpopular in deep-red Louisiana that his approval rating plunged to 32 percent in a recent poll -- compared with 42 percent for President Obama, who lost the state by 17 percentage points in 2012. [The Washington Post, 6/6/15]
Hannity Failed To Hold Jindal Accountable For False Statements On Job Creation, Budget Reduction
Louisiana Is Not Ranked In The Top 10 For Job Creation. According to data compiled by the Joint Economic Committee for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Louisiana ranks just 33rd in job creation since the beginning of 2015. Louisiana is the 25th most-populous state, but it produced fewer jobs from January through May than smaller states like Arkansas, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Oregon, and Utah. [Joint Economic Committee, State-By-State Snapshots, June 2015, accessed 6/25/15]
Jindal Did Not Reduce His State's Budget By 26 Percent. According to historian and journalist Robert Mann, Jindal frequently claims that he reduced his state's budget by 26 percent since taking office in 2008. Mann attributes the figure to a three-year old statement Jindal made while promoting his 2011-12 budget, which actually represented only a 17 percent spending cut at the time. A similar review of Jindal's claim by the Associated Press attributes the statistic to Jindal crediting himself for the automatic sunset of federal relief dollars made available in response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which devastated much of the state:
As complaints grew louder in recent years, the Jindal administration defended attacks from Democrats and conservative Republicans who decried budgets reliant on accounting gimmicks, claiming its budgeting protected needed programs without raising taxes.
When he talks of his record in national appearances, Jindal doesn't mention the budget troubles. He describes cutting Louisiana's budget from $34 billion in 2008 to $25 billion -- but doesn't explain much of that drop comes from spending down one-time federal recovery dollars after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. [BobMannBlog, 6/1/15; Associated Press, 2/11/15]
Media Matters researchers Katie Sullivan and Alex Kaplan contributed to this post.