Gov. Bobby Jindal lately has been wowing the Republican base with his message of adamant opposition to “Obamacare” in general and its Medicaid expansion provision in particular.
Loud cheering from the choir reinforces the preacher’s conviction he is on the cusp of a major accomplishment, namely a spot on the Republican presidential ticket. But how has this affected the governor’s constituents?
For starters, nearly 250,000 of the most disadvantaged of these have been frozen out of the health system by Jindal’s cold political calculations, for one cannot serve two masters.
And the poor, however numerous, cannot hold a political candle to right-wing power brokers such as the Koch brothers, Rush Limbaugh and Ted Cruz — when it comes to influencing Republican primary results (and helping choose a vice presidential candidate). So, with a heavy and conflicted heart, for he is a devout Catholic — and thus a follower of Pope Francis’ overarching message of justice and charity for the poor — Gov. Jindal has had to jettison the needy and cast his lot with the greedy.
Jindal, ever mindful of his public image, could not afford to have it besmirched by allegations of heartlessness and expediency. So, he preemptively launched a barrage of ostensibly cogent reasons for his decision to deprive 242,000 poor Louisianians of health coverage under existing federal law. For a man known for his grasp of detail, and one possessed of a solid health sector background and experience, Jindal was curiously “abstract” in his reasoning, giving us not concrete analysis but ideology: He had left a quarter-million of his most needy constituents bereft of protection, Jindal wrote, in order to: 1. Protect “private insurance,” 2. Have more people “pulling the cart, rather than riding the cart,” 3. “Preserve the ability (of Louisiana) to cut taxes,” 4. Seek “better ways to improve health care,” 5. Minimize the need to “borrow from China” and finally, 6. Oppose Obama’s “centralized government control.”
This raises the question, then, that needs to be asked of Gov. Jindal: Are your abstractions, sound bites and political ambition more important than the health, well-being and peace of mind of hundreds of thousands of working poor?
If his answer is “yes,” then we will know that he is, indeed, mean-spirited. If he answers “no,” then he has not been forthcoming in his reasons for blocking the Medicaid expansion and would have defrauded Louisiana’s working poor, for he — as the dictionary puts it — “use(d) deception to deprive someone of money or possessions.” Indeed, the governor would have perpetrated the Jindal Swindle.
Rodrigo M. Solórzano Sr.