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Morning Examiner: Bobby Jindal goes big with small ball

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal wowed conservatives at the annual Republican National Committee meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, last night with a stinging indictment of how Republicans are running the party in Washington:

Look at the debates that have dominated Washington in just the last few weeks: The fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling, and Joe Biden’s gun control task force. These are in reality sideshows in Washington that we have allowed to take center stage in our country – and as conservatives, we are falling into the sideshow trap.

Instead of obsessing over what is going on in Washington, Jindal, who is Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, urged conservatives to look to the states:

In addition to Washington, there are a bunch of outlying areas we call states, but they are pretty much just adjuncts of the federal government. This is not the idea of America. But this is what America will become if we do not reorient our way of thinking right away.

We believe in planting the seeds of growth in the fertile soil of your economy, where you live, where you work, invest, and dream, not in the barren concrete of Washington. If it’s worth doing, block grant it to the states. If it’s something you don’t trust the states to do, then maybe Washington shouldn’t do it at all. We believe solving problems closer to home should always be our first, not last, option.

Jindal then went on to list seven things Republicans must do if they hope to win elections in the future. It was identical to the list he outlined two months in an op-ed for CNN, including item number six:

We must quit “big.” We are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, or big anything. We must not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys. We have to be the party that shows all Americans how they can thrive. We are the party whose ideas will help the middle class, and help more folks join the middle class. We are a populist party and need to make that clear.

Jindal is not the only conservative making the case that Republicans should go populist by abandoning support for big business and and instead stress free market reforms. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has often made a similar case.

But, as chairman of the RGA, Jindal may have a better perch to tell that story. He can point to Republican governor successes in 30 states representing more than 58 percent of America’s population. The unemployment rate in these Republican-led states is a full 1.2 points lower than it is in their Democratic-led counterparts. Jindal’s Louisiana is a prime example, where an unemployment rate that had risen to 7.9 percent has now fallen to just 5.5 percent. Those are Reagan Recovery like numbers.

Jindal, and Ryan, both need to put some more policy-teeth on their anti-big business populist message, but it is a message many Americans appear ready to hear.

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