David Frum

04.09.13

Bobby Jindal Backs Away From Big Ideas

Scott Olson/Getty Images ()

Bobby Jindal's tough year, as reported by the New York Times:

Unfavorable polls, once discounted as the byproduct of an ambitious agenda, were only getting worse — recently much worse.

The governor’s statewide school voucher program, a pillar of his education reform package, was blocked by a trial court judge on constitutional grounds.

Judges have since also blocked his revamp of teacher tenure rules and a change of the state retirement system (the administration has appealed the rulings and is pushing for legislative action should they stand).

Then at the end of March, Mr. Jindal’s health secretary, Bruce Greenstein, announced his resignation amid reports of a federal grand jury investigation into the awarding of a $185 million state contract. Mr. Greenstein had also been the point man for one of the administration’s most complex, consequential and potentially risky projects: the accelerated transfer of the state’s safety-net hospital system to a system of public-private partnerships.

All along, opposition to the tax swap was growing broader and more bipartisan by the day. Clergy members urged the governor to drop the plan, saying it could hurt the poor, while the state’s most prominent chamber of commerce group came out against the plan for its potential impact on businesses.

With the math behind the tax swap remaining vague and variable, the plan’s few outspoken friends in the Legislature began to wobble.