Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, famously embodied the concept of the reality distortion field. Said to have its origins in STAR TREK (where else?), Jobs had a knack for convincing himself and others to believe almost anything — and that almost anything was possible — thanks to the force of his ego, charm, persistence and bluster. The key to making RDF work was getting an audience to lose its sense of proportion, in effect to suspend disbelief.
Jobs was hardly the first larger-than-life guy to use reality distortion. Political leaders for eons have used their gifts to rally nations. When it works, they become legends. When it doesn’t, they are exposed as frauds.
As I watch Gov. Bobby Jindal position himself to run for president, I wonder if he and his promoters are not trying to use a reality distortion field to convince people that he’s The Next Big Thing for the GOP. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to like — and admire — about Jindal, whether you’re a conservative or not. He’s as disciplined and focused as any politician I’ve ever met. He has a great first generation American story to tell, though he seems disinclined to “connect” with his Indian and/or Hindu heritage.
But getting people to imagine a seemingly impossible task and then demanding that they accomplish it — the essence of the Jobsian RDF — is not quite the same as bullshitting people about your own attributes and expecting them to believe you’re Superman. In Jindal’s case, there are at least three reality distortion fields currently in play, all of which are relentlessly spun by Team Jindal and slavishly repeated by his sycophants in the media and in the political arena. It’s time for some reality checks.
Just 24 percent of more than 600 Louisiana voters who participated in a recent poll think Gov. Bobby Jindal should run for president in 2016. Of the 603 people polled by North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling, 66 percent said he should not run. 10 percent were undecided. The firm released another poll earlier this week, showing a Jindal approval rating of 37 percent among respondents.
While those results may not bode well for the governor, who very clearly has ambitions beyond his current job, the good news is that both jindal2020.com and jindal2024.com are still available as of this writing.
Other poll results:
—49 percent reported a favorable opinion of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, 26 percent unfavorable and 25 percent not sure. Voters were evenly split on a gubernatorial match between Landrieu and Republican Senator David Vitter in 2015, at 44 percent apiece with 13 percent not sure. Landrieu, however, beat out Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne at 44-42, with 15 percent not sure.
—59 percent said they were against same sex marriage, with only 29 percent in favor and 12 percent unsure.
—Respondents were near even on the Edwin Edwards Question, with 44 percent reporting an unfavorable opinion of the ex-governor and 42 percent favorable. 15 percent said they were unsure.
—David Duke is still extremely unpopular. 76 percent unfavorable to 9 percent favorable. A surprisingly high 15 percent of respondents — all of them voters — said they weren't sure how they feel about David Duke. Among these voters, Edwards beats Duke in a gubernatorial race by a 47 percent margin: 62-15. 23 percent unsure.
—Equally surprising: 41 percent of respondents had no opinion of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell scored 42 percent unfavorable and 17 percent favorable.
—Drew Brees is the only person in the poll who is more liked than David Duke is disliked. 86 percent favorable, 4 percent unfavorable, 11 percent unsure.
Read the full survey: PPP_Release_LA_021413.pdf
A bill filed this week by state Rep. Jerome "Dee" Richard, Independent of Thibodaux, and Sen. Rick Gallot, Democrat of Ruston, would repeal an exemption to the state Public Records Act called the "deliberative process privilege." The privilege protects deliberative (or pre-decisional) communications within the governor's office — though it's unclear just what is meant by "deliberative" and "governor's office."
The privilege has recently been applied to requests for (1A) records that were submitted after a state policy decision was made, (1B) records of communications that (arguably) themselves took place after a policy decision was made and (2) records from any executive agency, not just the Office of the Governor.
From our earlier coverage:
The News-Star attempted to confirm [Louisiana Department of Education Superintendent John] White's remarks by filing a public records request for internal DOE emails, specifically those "regarding phases included in the process for school approval for the Louisiana Scholarship program." A copy of the request was provided to Gambit by News-Star attorney William McNew.
The department did not hand over the requested emails.
After the paper published an editorial excoriating the state for its lack of transparency, White responded, claiming DOE was not obligated to produce the records because of something called the "deliberative process privilege," an exemption to the Louisiana Public Records Law that Jindal rammed through the Legislature in 2009 over the objections of the state's largest newspapers. White claimed in his letter that the privilege, which critics say applies only to the governor's office, "protects documents reflecting advisory opinions, recommendations and deliberations comprising part of a process by which governmental decisions and policies are formulated."
(More after the jump)
A national survey of state and local tax codes by Washington think tank the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) shows that Louisiana's poorest residents pay the highest levels of state and local taxes as a percent of income — more than twice the relative burden on the state's highest earners — due in large part to combined local and state sales taxes.
The ITEP study comes as the state's political leaders ponder a major tax code overhaul. Gov. Bobby Jindal has called for the elimination of personal income and corporate taxes, possibly replacing the revenue with increases in sales taxes, already among the highest in the country.
According to the study, released this month, the poorest 20 percent of state residents — average income $10,000 — pay 10.6 percent of their income in state and local taxes on average, with the overwhelming majority coming from sales taxes. Louisianians in next 20 percent — $22,000 average income — generally pay 10.5 percent, again mostly in sales taxes. In contrast, the wealthiest one percent — a group whose average income is $979,000 — pay only 4.6 percent of their income in state and local taxes, with the largest share coming from personal income taxes.
Under its current laws, the state did not make it into ITEP's list of the ten most regressive tax systems, where the poorest residents have the highest tax burden. In fact, Louisiana's poorest 20 percent actually pay a smaller share of taxes than the national average for the same group: 11.1 percent. The burden on the next 20 percent, however, is above the national average of 10 percent, and the burden for the richest Louisiana residents is below the national average of 5.6 percent.
The report's findings suggest Jindal's plan could mean significantly higher taxes on the poor. Four of the states on the list don't levy a personal income tax. These include the two most regressive in the country, Washington and Florida, where the bottom 20 percent pay 16.9 percent and 13.2 percent, respectively, of their income in state and municipal taxes. Tennessee, another state on the most regressive list, collects taxes on interest and dividends from investments but not on regular income. Known as the Hall Income Tax, it produced only $184 million during the 2011 fiscal year, less than two percent of $10.5 billion total state tax collections that year.
The governor's office has pledged to mitigate the impact of any sales tax increase for the poor. But with the state legislature set to convene in April, Jindal is yet to release the details of the plan.
Read the full report “Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States" whopaysreport_1_.pdf
A growing number of people are saying that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed “tax reform” plan would shift too much of Louisiana’s revenue burden to its poorest citizens. Jindal supporters want criticism withheld until the plan is finalized. That would be a fair request if the governor weren’t keeping the details under wraps until very late in the game.
Besides, one doesn’t have to know everything about the plan to suggest improvements. What we know is that Jindal proposes to eliminate individual and corporate income taxes and the corporate franchise fee. To offset the $3 billion that would cost the state, he'll have to nearly double state sales tax revenues. Even a "modest" sales tax hike of a penny and a half would give Louisiana the highest combined (state and local) sales tax rates in the country — by far.
In addition to raising sales taxes, Jindal wants to eliminate many or even all sales tax exemptions, most of which benefit existing businesses, and institute a unified sales tax reporting system. He says his goal is to make the tax code simpler, broader in application, fairer and more attractive to business. That’s a worthy goal, and parts of his plan would accomplish that.
For example, eliminating the corporate franchise fee is a great idea. The fee generates relatively little revenue but is a huge turnoff to businesses. Ditto for the corporate income tax and the unified sales tax reporting system. Many Louisiana businesses have to file multiple returns for local and state sales taxes. Most other states have one statewide filing system.
But I question the wisdom of eliminating the individual income tax. Instead, why not make it simpler, broader, fairer — and lower?
Well, that didn't take long. Ever since the Monroe News-Star broke the news that Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to overhaul Louisiana's tax system may involve abolishing state income and corporate taxes while hiking sales tax, people have been arguing about the roughed-in portion of the plan. (And former Jindal aide Timmy Teepell was busy on Twitter last night addressing the plan's detractors.)
A sampling of opinion (and keep in mind that no one has the specifics of Jindal's plan yet):
Scott McKay, The Hayride, "BUT OF COURSE: The Soros-Funded Crowd Attacks Jindal’s Tax Plan":
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s announcement today that he wants to dump the state’s personal and corporate income tax and make up the difference with sales taxes has been pretty well-received in a lot of quarters, as the announcement has made its way into a fairly wide swath of national news reports and gotten Jindal some good notices among the low-tax crowd.
But it was virtually impossible not to foresee that the state’s left-wing activists would go to war against the idea. And the Louisiana Budget Project, which draws funding from George Soros’ Open Society Institute, was first out of the gate in sending a release out to trash Jindal for attempting to craft a tax system which can compete with Texas. ...
Necessities poor people need - food for home consumption, prescription drugs and residential utilities — are exempt from sales taxes in Louisiana. Jindal’s revenue secretary Tim Barfield has already said they’ll seek to protect those exemptions so as to protect poor people who need that stuff to subsist. Flat-screen TV’s won’t be protected, though, so if you’re poor and a couple points on the sales tax will break you, maybe you’ll have to go the layaway route or do some bargain-shopping for plasma.
Charles Pierce, Esquire, "BOBBY JINDAL'S CREATIVE NEW TAX PLAN":
"Bobby" unveiled his new tax plan for Louisiana and, boy howdy, is it some kind of tax plan. He wants to eliminate the state's personal income taxes and its corporate taxes, the latter probably because the state hasn't yet allowed major corporations to poison it quite as thoroughly as they can. (Huey Long must be rolling in his grave.) In their place, "Bobby" suggests that the state sales tax — which, of course, falls most heavily on the poor and the middle class — be hiked to somewhere vaguely in the vicinity of the Van Alen Belt. And stores along the Mississippi and Arkansas borders will be throwing a parade. To say nothing of the fact that this almost guarantees that the budget-writing process of Louisiana will fall further into a dog-fighting pit between legislators who'd rather not have their constituents die on the sidewalk, and Jindal's mighty line-item veto. And, besides all that, the scheme is a moral grease-trap.
More details should be forthcoming in March, when the legislature receives a more detailed plan from Team Jindal and sits down to hash through the details.
So today Gov. Bobby Jindal proposed eliminating state individual and corporate income taxes and raising the state sales tax from four to seven percent.
The idea is to "put more money back into the pockets of Louisiana families," Jindal's Facebook page tells us. I did some (very rough) calculations on this. Based on 2011-2012 sales and individual income tax revenues (not taking the effect of deductions into account), it could produce a fairly modest $300-ish million net savings — $2.4 billion in individual income tax revenues minus $2.1 billion in added sales taxes from an increased rate — spread out among every income taxpaying family in the state. Not evenly, either. Wealthier residents pay more income tax, so they'll save more without it. Louisiana is not a wealthy state, by the way, so many more will see, at best, pretty small tax savings from this. And at the same time it will nearly double the tax burden for Louisiana's poorest residents. (Though I can't say I know how it will affect people living below the poverty line who now have to pay state income tax anyway.) I guess it just depends on whose pockets we're talking about.
But apparently "Louisiana families" might not even see modest pocket gains, because the governor says this will all be done "in a revenue neutral manner." That means no net effect to state revenues. And that, at least in theory, means no overall savings at all. Unless we're talking about more cuts to what's left of our unimportant state services like universities and hospitals, which wouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.
Corporations, which because of state incentives barely pay taxes as it is, may, however, come out a bit ahead on this. That will probably mean more glowing reviews from Forbes, and we know the governor will like that.
Incidentally, New Orleans, this could mean a 12 percent combined state and local sales tax rate for us.
In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Gov. Bobby Jindal has created a task force to review school safety procedures, from prekindergarten through university level campuses. The multi-agency group includes the departments of safety and corrections, education, health and hospitals, children and family services, and boards from state universities, to be co-chaired by State Police Superintendent Col. Michael Edmonson, and James LeBlanc, Secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections. Jindal's executive order says "This study group shall collaboratively review and assess the State’s current programs and plans in order to identify any necessary improvements or changes in light of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut."
The order states: "When such a tragedy occurs it is imperative that those involved with school and campus safety for the more than 1,700 public and private schools, colleges and universities work collaboratively to re-examine the plans and measures in place to identify any areas needing improvement, incorporate new strategies and work together to exercise existing response plans."
The group's three stated goals will "identify and implement improvements" in respective departments before any necessary bills can be filed in Legislature this session.
Gambit contributor Stephanie Grace appeared on WYES-TV's Informed Sources Friday night, discussing Gov. Bobby Jindal's new proposal to make women's birth control medication an over-the-counter product, along with panelists Errol Laborde and Jeff Duncan and moderator Larry Lorenz. The show isn't embeddable, but you can watch it here.
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