Our Views: Jindal barb misses target

We know that Gov. Bobby Jindal, a former member of Congress, knows as well as anybody in politics that sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth — a vote for a measure containing many provisions, good and bad.

When the good outweighs the bad, you vote for the bill, even if you don’t like some of its provisions.

That is what happened with the Louisiana delegation in Congress last year, when it was presented with a highway bill that included many provisions beneficial to Louisiana. Above all, it included a requirement that the U.S. government apply 80 percent of the oil spill fines to restoration of the Gulf Coast.

This could mean billions to the state and the region. It was an immensely important legislative priority. Jindal’s own coastal authorities were all for it.

The rough part? The same bill, at the instigation of the House’s GOP leadership, slashed Louisiana’s Medicaid reimbursement rate.

That cost Jindal’s budgets big time. It was a harsh measure, forced on Congress after Louisiana’s Legislature had already adjourned and gone home.

Should the Louisiana delegation, without the votes to change the final product, have voted against it? Jindal did not lift a finger with his own party’s leadership to change the measure, but now he criticizes Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., for voting for the highway bill.

“Senator Landrieu voted to cut Louisiana’s Medicaid program by over a billion dollars and now she’s worried about Louisiana families?” Jindal said in a prepared statement during his latest public spat with Louisiana’s Democratic senator.

This is a misleading account of the Medicaid/highway bill vote.

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., was on the highway bill conference committee, failed to block the Medicaid cut and voted for the final bill. He’s not mentioned by the governor.

If Landrieu is at fault here, should not every Republican in the delegation also be counted as guilty? They all voted for the final bill.

Jindal’s use of this argument suggests that he believes the public is completely ignorant. We think people can figure out that this was a trade-off, and a trade-off that the Louisiana delegation correctly made.