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Jindal says GOP has to 'be a party that's for something'

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 15. 2014 9:22PM

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks during an interview at the New Hampshire Union Leader in Manchester on Friday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER - Republicans running for Congress this year need to stand "for something" and not just bank on opposition to Obamacare to carry them to victory in the November midterm elections, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said.

"I think there's a bunch of smart guys in D.C. who are trying to tell Republicans, 'Just run against Obamacare. Don't offer any ideas,'" Jindal said in an interview at the New Hampshire Union Leader on Friday. "I think that's a mistake. I think we've got to be a party that's for something, not against something."

Jindal, who said a 2016 White House run is "certainly something I'm thinking about," blamed President Barack Obama for Russia's aggressive actions against the Ukraine because Obama didn't follow through on his earlier threats against the Syrian government in its civil war.

"People say and they're right that this President helped to precipitate this crisis when he drew the red line in Syria and didn't act," Jindal said.

Jindal said Obama, in an effort to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to reverse course, should reverse his 2009 decision to scrap a plan to put an anti-ballistic missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.

"The only way to dissuade Putin from this and other provocative actions is to show them there'd be a real consequence," he said.

Regarding former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown announcing Friday he was forming an exploratory committee for a possible Senate run here in New Hampshire, Jindal said Brown's move brings energy and enthusiasm to Republicans.

"I think it also, whether folks are supporting him or not, it focuses, I think, folks' attention on there's an election that we can win," Jindal said.

On health care, Jindal said Obama diagnosed some of the nation's health care problems correctly but offered the wrong cure in the Affordable Care Act.

Jindal, who served as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and also was executive director on the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, said he would push for more tax deductions for individuals to pay for health care, an ability for people to buy insurance across state lines, elimination of frivolous lawsuits and more flexibility for states to spend federal health care funds.

Even if Republicans make political gains in Washington, it won't mean leaders will fix the nation's major problems, he said.

"There's a naive belief that if just our party would win the next election, if just our guy were President, if our guys controlled Congress, all would be right with the world," Jindal said. "Everybody would have unicorns in their back yards, they'd be riding those every day, a chicken in every pot - and look, I'm certainly going to fight for my ideas and my party and my guys and advance our policies - but I think that's a little simplistic."

Jindal, who served three years in Congress before he was elected governor in 2007, suggested Congress should be part time with term limits because Congress is now "a permanent ruling class."

Congress also won't make difficult decisions until its members absolutely have to, Jindal said.

"It's like your kids with their homework," he said. "They can have a week do to the book report, they're not going to do it until the last day. Congress is not going to balance the budget. They're not going to reform the entitlement programs.

"They're not going to cut spending until they absolutely have to, and I'd love to tell you it'll be different once we have a bunch of Republicans in there. I think it will be better when we have a bunch of Republicans there, but it's not going to be different until we make structural changes, until there's no choice."

Jindal also said Louisiana has no statewide education curriculum, leaving that decision and textbook choices to local districts.

"I strongly oppose any effort for there to be a federal curriculum or a federal involvement in our educational system," Jindal said. "I'm one of those believers that these decisions are best made at the local level."


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