Louisiana (US), Feb.25 (ANI): Responding to President Barack Obama's prime-time speech to Congress on the economy, Louisiana's Indian-origin Governor Piyush 'Bobby' Jindal called for smaller government, tax cuts, and help for small business-decades-old mainstays of the Republican platform that he said his party has lost sight of in recent years.
"The strength of America is not found in our government. It is found in the compassionate hearts and enterprising spirit of our citizens," said Jindal, telling a story about a Louisiana bureaucrat thwarting citizens' rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
Republicans want to "create jobs by lowering income tax rates for working families, cutting taxes for small businesses, [and] strengthening incentives for businesses to invest in new equipment and hire new workers," Jindal said, lamenting that "Democratic leaders in Congress rejected this approach," opting instead to spend more than $1 trillion with interest mainly on infrastructure projects.
As Jindal criticized Democratic plans that he said would "grow the government, increase our taxes down the line, and saddle future generations with debt," it wasn't difficult to feel that the Republican Party had suddenly found religion on fiscal restraint after what many see as the profligacy of the Bush years.
Apparently, this was not lost on Jindal, and though he did not mention President Bush, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or any of the policy initiatives of the last eight years, he did offer a kind of apology: "Our party got away from its principles. You elected Republicans to champion limited government, fiscal discipline, and personal responsibility. Instead, Republicans went along with earmarks and big government spending in Washington. Republicans lost your trust - and rightly so."
"Tonight, on behalf of our leaders in Congress and my fellow Republican governors, I say: Our party is determined to regain your trust," CBS quoted Jindal, as saying.
Jindal did not limit his speech to Mr. Obama's plans for the economy.
He gave what almost amounted to a campaign speech, speaking in a jocular, "aw shucks" style but beating the GOP drum on healthcare ("Health care decisions should be made by doctors and patients - not by government bureaucrats") and defense ("Now is no time to dismantle the defenses that have protected this country for hundreds of years, or make deep cuts in funding for our troops").
He also touched on more centrist ideas about energy ("We need to increase conservation, increase energy efficiency, increase the use of alternative and renewable fuels") and education (talking about the revitalization of the New Orleans school system).
Jindal began his speech by saluting Obama's ascent to the presidency and the historic occasion of his first address to Congress. Jindal linked his own life story to Obama's-both the sons of immigrant fathers; both unlikely politicians who benefited from the hard and thankless work of their parents.
He began and ended the speech with invoking of his father, who told him, "Americans can do anything." (ANI)