Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 23, 2012
POLITICS: Meanwhile, Bobby Jindal Wins Again

The GOP's national leadership - including the presidential candidates stumping today in Louisiana - may be uninspiring, but the GOP governors continue to roll. Bobby Jindal last night just scored another victory with the passage through the Louisiana House of a landmark school choice bill (the bill still awaits action from the LA Senate), before proceeding to debate a second bill that tightens teacher tenure standards:

In a victory for Gov. Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana House of Representatives approved a bill Thursday night that would expand state aid for some students to switch from struggling public schools to private and parochial classrooms.

The vote was 61-42 after nearly 12 hours of debate.

Jindal still faces a tough fight - some of the legislators who voted for the bill also voted for an amendment limiting the use of local (as opposed to state) tax dollars for vouchers that could cross local district lines, and opponents are vowing a constitutional challenge. But then, reform is never easy.

For more on why Jindal is one of the nation's very best governors, this long wide-ranging interview discusses not just his education reform proposals but also his pension reform fight. Excerpt:

[B]efore we discuss any change, we have to understand that the status quo is not sustainable: $18.5 billion [Unfunded Accrued Liability]. We're spending already over $2 billion dollars a year [for retirement programs]. If we do nothing, the UAL will go up by $3 billion.

Let's look at the alternative. If we do nothing, there really are just three alternatives. One is that we break our promise to employees, which we're not willing to do. Second is that we devastate critical services like education and health care. We're not willing to do that. Third is that we simply raise taxes on our people. We're not willing to do that as well. Some would say, "Well, why tackle these hard reforms? Constitutionally, you don't have to pay off the UAL until 2029." I think that's irresponsible.

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When you look historically at the 1980s, taxpayers were paying for 60% of the retirement program's cost. Workers were paying 40%. That was considered a fair balance. Today taxpayers are paying 75% and the employees are only paying 25% of the retirement costs. Even with all the reforms that we've proposed, we're not going back to 60/40, even with the savings for taxpayers. You're still looking at a ... two-thirds, one-third split. So taxpayers are still paying for two-thirds of the retirement program. I think a better question, another way to ask that question, would be, "Why didn't you go back to 60/40, why not cut the taxpayers contributions to 60%?"...

I think that if you go and ask the average taxpayer, "Hey, look, you guys used to pay 60% of the retirement cost; today you're paying 75%. Don't you think you should get a little bit more of your money back?" I think, absolutely. I think their money should go back to them. Whether it's in tax cuts, whether it's investments in education, whether it's investments in health care. Because what has happened over the last several years is, those investments have been crowded out as the [state retirement contribution] share has gone up. What has happened is, instead of being able to pay for classrooms and instead of being able to pay for health care, instead of being able to pay for tax cuts, taxpayers have been forced to pay for retirement costs.

Finally, in case you missed it, a Jindal tour de force on energy:

Gov. Bobby Jindal on Energy from Republican Governors Association on Vimeo.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:18 PM | Politics 2012 | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

It certainly is an ugly situation in the states, where short-term thinking has created these types of fiscal problems. I agree with Jindal, the current situation is unsustainable. I like that 60-40 rule, actually.
Speaking of which, not too long ago corporations used to pay 40% of the taxes in this country, leaving 60% for the citizens. Now it's about a 14%-86% split. It might be time to lock corporations in at 40% again and stop forcing the citizens to carry so much of the tax burden.
I'm not saying we should raise corporate taxes during a during a recession (when employment trumps ALL other issues, or WOULD if charlatans weren't trying to score political points), but we need to start looking at these kinds of solutions over the long-haul to get us on good fiscal footing.

Posted by: Berto at March 23, 2012 1:19 PM

Sounds all well and good, except that, for all practical purposes, corporations don't pay taxes, they collect them. Ultimately, citizens pay whatever corporations pass on, which is typically every penny.

Posted by: lloydrmc at March 23, 2012 2:59 PM

Pension reform? Fine. Voucher plan? Fail.

Posted by: MVH at March 23, 2012 3:50 PM

Crank,

Jindal is not running for President in 2012, Crank. You're like a kid with a Pinto pointing to the Corvette in the showroom through the window saying, "...that's the one, yeah..."

You have a proven track record of crying foul when guys like Berto "change the subject" (according to you). For instance, you didn't like how he (rightly) blamed Bush for many of our current woes.

However, I need to remind you again: Jindal is NOT running for President! Wouldn't it be more timely to discuss the merits, if there are any, of the actual candidates?

Obviously, you and others with intelligence in the GOP have already concluded that you have 0% chance of winning this fall, and that's why you are salivating over your alleged banquet in 2016 instead of dissecting the morsel(s) on your plate in 2012...

Crankless

Posted by: Crankless at March 23, 2012 5:16 PM

If adopted, his policies will solve the fiscal problem. Powerful forces in other states do not want to be compared to Wisconsin or Louisiana and have lawmakers in their states taking the same sane steps.

Posted by: dunce at March 23, 2012 5:18 PM

We are fools if we focus solely on the current presidential race, important as it is. You always need more good people in the pipeline, and of course it's good news that Jindal's already made so much progress in fixing his state's real problems.

Jindal's 25 years younger than Romney. Heck, he's 9 years younger than Jamie Moyer, who's still pitching. He can run in the future whether we win or lose this year.

Posted by: Crank at March 23, 2012 5:27 PM

You say that lloydrmc, but isn't that the case with all corporate costs? If true, you'd never hear corporations complain about the cost of being forced to adhere to stricter pollution controls, for instance. Instead they could just pass along the costs to the consumer.
But your point is well taken, which is why I'm against fining corporations when they break the law (big deal, they'll pass along the costs to their customers), and instead support the corporate death penalty in such situations.

Posted by: Berto at March 24, 2012 3:44 AM

Berto is actually on to something. Fines by themselves can be a deterrent if the business is small enough. Enlarge it and it's the cost of doing business. Want an example? After what happened to the Saints, I can virtually guarantee that kind of behavior will become extinct.

Posted by: Daryl at March 24, 2012 8:13 AM

It's silly to suggest that corporations don't complain when you raise their costs of doing business, even though they will try to pass those along to customers, and failing that, take them out of employees or shareholders. In fact, high costs that are passed on to customers can reduce a company's sales (higher prices drive away buyers).

The purpose of taxing corporations is not to reduce the tax burden on individuals, but to disguise it, by collecting the taxes where it's less visible; the public then (as with gas prices) can be told by dishonest people that high prices are the result of greedy corporations rather than taxes. But this process inevitably makes the tax system more corrupt and inequitable, because concentrating tax collection on money in corporate hands rather than dispersing it among individuals makes it more likely that some pools of money will be taxed differently than others based on which companies invest the most money in lobbyists, campaign contributions and tax lawyers - collective actions that are harder to organize on the part of dispersed individual taxpayers.

So what berto is really arguing for is a system of more complexity, more inequality, and more corruption.

Posted by: Crank at March 24, 2012 9:46 AM

"collective actions that are harder to organize on the part of dispersed individual taxpayers."

Hasn't this been the root of the problem? Isn't the fact that (poorer) individuals have a much better chance of being imprisoned for illegal actions than corporate actors when they commit felonies, for the exact same reasons --investing in lobbyists, campaign contributions, and hiring more lawyers?
Yet I never hear Crank call for the elimination of lobbyists and/ or the removal of money from elections (nor the imprisonment of corporate actors who committed fraud to such an extent it crashed the world's economy). In fact he argues against all of that.

So what Crank is really arguing for is a continuation of a system more unequal and corrupt.
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Also, the "disguise" with gas prices is the government subsidizing costs thru tax breaks and subsidies for oil companies.

Posted by: Berto at March 24, 2012 12:40 PM

Jindal ignores one "inconvenient fact" incorporated in the question -- gas prices now are very similar to those in the summer before he was elected.

Normal level of permitting -- let's see, might there have been a disastrous accident in the Gulf of Mexico? Shell has been trying to permit drilling in the Bering and Chukchi Seas for years and are moving forward only now.

Fracking -- Much of the moves to stop it, especially in the northeast, is from the states.

CO2 -- The Supreme Court held that the CAA covers GHGs. What is EPA supposed to do? Ignore the law? Maybe John Yoo can given him an opinion that it would be legal.

Keystone -- If the GOP hadn't moved up the deadline for purely political reasons, before the analyses were finished -- it might have been approved.

All of the above -- that is Administration Policy.

Perhaps if you knew something about energy, you would be less impressed by biolerplate political talking points.

Posted by: Magrooder at March 24, 2012 12:54 PM

"The purpose of taxing corporations is not to reduce the tax burden on individuals, but to disguise it, by collecting the taxes where it's less visible"

Except that individuals can avoid the corporate tax entirely by not purchasing the product. The true disguise is using a corporate tax rather than a sales tax, where the consumer knows up front what part of the price is due to the government.

That being said, it's not dishonest to say that greedy corporations are somewhat responsible for high prices. If, for example, corporations didn't dump toxic waste in rivers, create brownfield sites, violate securities regulations, etc., we wouldn't have to collect some of these taxes to enforce/clean-up after them. Moreover, prices would be lower if executive salaries were set a rate that actually reflected a true market rather than having a built-in escalator. Furthermore, given that greed was a big part of the financial crisis, it's not hard to argue that taxes, and therefore prices, could be lower if we didn't have to bail them out.

In other words, some of the taxes we have to levy are the price we pay for having corporations in the first place, but we definitely do want them. The problem with liberals is that their hatred of markets, corporations and profits are so completely
beyond the pale that it's hard take them seriously when they do actually have a point.

Posted by: MVH at March 24, 2012 3:17 PM

"The problem with liberals is that their hatred of markets, corporations and profits are so completely
beyond the pale..."

Link please.

Also, I believe it is conservatives who are rabid against markets, corporations, or profits realized by (liberal) Hollywood.

Posted by: Berto at March 24, 2012 5:34 PM

"In fact, high costs that are passed on to customers can reduce a company's sales (higher prices drive away buyers)."
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Sounds like an argument for substantial fines when a corporation break the law. Say, maybe 10% (or 20%) of all revenues from the time the corporation broke the law. (Particularly if the crime provided the corporation the opportunity to cut their prices below competitors).
I'd be interested in knowing what your corporate masters think about this argument, Crank.

Posted by: Berto at March 26, 2012 12:44 PM

Segregation in 2012 = Kids with parents who care will transfer to good schools, kids who got a bad draw in the parent(s) dept. will remain at the bad schools. Congrats!

Posted by: Nate Jones at March 30, 2012 8:30 PM
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