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Why Jindal won't veto pay raise becomes deeper mystery

More valuable than figuring out the Haynesville Shale play is discovering what’s going on in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s head regarding the legislative pay raise. As reasons principled and political scream at him to veto it, statements from he and his administration serve to keep digging deeper the political hole in which he finds himself on this issue.

One option that Jindal, who has stated he thought he can forget about legislative cooperation if he vetoed the bill and said he would not even as he promised during the campaign to not support this kind of raise concurrent with present terms in office, has which would fulfill both promises is to let the bill become law but then challenge it in court presumably for violating the state Constitution that defines legislators as “part-time public servants.” This is an uncertain therefore risky strategy, but one that could pay off big if successful.

Yet his executive counsel Jimmy Faircloth was trotted out to give remarks that implied that Jindal wasn’t thinking about this option and showed little enthusiasm for this interpretation of the Constitution. Even if for political purposes Jindal did not want to show public support for an effort he was backing behind the scenes, it would be odd that his chief legal officer would make such deflating comments about the enterprise. It certainly gives no ammunition for a veto, on the basis of unconstitutionality, that could justify a reneged promise not to veto.

Even more curious is the reason why this maneuver would make sense – trying to have an outcome pleasing to both supporters (not to veto) and opponents (not to have a raise) – seems by the statement of an assumed party involved to be irrelevant. For it to make sense we must presume that the non-veto promise by him was made to the Legislature in response to his avoiding some penalty. Many times Jindal has said things akin to his most recent metaphor, that he didn’t want legislators “to throw sand in the gears” of what he calls his reform package. In all, the implication is that down the road Jindal would be politically punished for an action taken now, the veto.

But House Speaker Jim Tucker released a noncommittal statement that implied he would not act vindictively in any way as a result of the disposition of the bill. It would make no sense that Tucker would have changed his tune on this, previously threatening but now accommodating, because he would lose everything by allowing a veto if he could stop it through threats of holding up future legislation – he wouldn’t get the raise and would face the wrath of constituents (who have gotten up a recall petition on him) and voters for the rest of his political career for his hand in passing the raise measure.

So what is Jindal afraid of? In light of recent comments, it seems the only thing could be breaking a deal of putting through legislation already approved. Does he not want the public to know he had to promise inaction in order to get things passed like ethics reforms, an income tax cut he accepted as fiscally prudent, workforce development legislation, a school scholarship/voucher program, and the like? Even if he did, breaking that to veto will make him more politically powerful, not less.

These revelations make an imponderable mystery to date only more obscure in explanation. And the longer he continues to baffle the public on this issue, the more difficult he makes it to deflect probing questions whose presence will make it even more difficult to reverse course. Meanwhile, capital continues to be withdrawn from his political bank account.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jindal really is disappointing on this. He obviously made a secret deal to look the other way, but the leges who made the deal couldn't fault him too much with all the heat he's taking. Obviously, he needs to veto the d*** pay raise.