By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) continued his sharp criticism of the stimulus signed into law last week, as the man some Republicans view as the potential savior of their party used his response to President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress last night to challenge the vision laid out in the recovery package.
Delivering the official GOP response to Obama from the governor's mansion in Baton Rouge, Jindal defended the virtues of small government that he said even his own party had abandoned in recent years.
"Instead of trusting us to make decisions with our own money, they passed the largest government spending bill in history with a price tag of more than $1 trillion with interest," he said of Democrats. "Democratic leaders say their legislation will grow the economy. What it will do is grow the government, increase our taxes down the line and saddle future generations with debt."
Speaking of Obama, Jindal said that "we appreciate his message of hope, but sometimes it seems like we look for hope in different places. Democratic leaders in Washington, they place their hope in the federal government. We place our hope in you, the American people."
And Jindal rebuked the president for a remark made earlier in this month when Obama warned that without immediate action on the economy, "our nation will sink into a crisis that, at some point, we may be unable to reverse."
"A few weeks ago, the president warned that our country is facing a crisis that he said we may not be able to reverse," Jindal said. "Our troubles are real, to be sure. But don't let anyone tell you that we cannot recover. Don't let anyone tell you that America 's best days are behind her."
Tapped by congressional Republican leaders as a fresh face for the response, Jindal delivered remarks that differed little from the rhetoric of Republicans in Washington who have pledged to work with the new president but have pushed him to adopt more conservative policies.
Jindal, 37, is considered one of the GOP's rising stars. Last night added to a week in which Jindal, a former House member who was elected governor in 2007, has emerged as one of the strongest critics of the economic stimulus plan, saying he would turn down some of the funding targeted to his state.
The first Indian American elected governor is a Baton Rouge native and the son of immigrants, and he used the response to tell some of his story.
"Like the president's father, my own parents came to this country from a distant land," Jindal said. "When they arrived in Baton Rouge, my mother was already four and half months pregnant. . . . To find work, my dad picked up the yellow pages and started calling local businesses. Even after landing a job, he could still not afford to pay for my delivery, so he worked out an installment plan with the doctor. Fortunately for me, he never missed a payment."