ABC "Good Morning America" - Transcript
ABC "GOOD MORNING AMERICA" INTERVIEW WITH GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL (R-LA)
SUBJECT: ECONOMIC RECOVERY, HOMELAND SECURITY
INTERVIEWER: ROBIN ROBERTS
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MS. ROBERTS: And Diane, we're going to turn now to the other side of the aisle and an exclusive interview with a rising star of the Republican Party, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
He has taken the lead in criticizing the Obama administration's economic recovery program, even rejecting nearly a $100 million in stimulus money for his state of Louisiana.
And there is much talk that Governor Jindal, who is just 37 years old, could be a future Republican presidential nominee.
(Begin videotaped segment.)
MS. ROBERTS: I'll wait a moment to ask you about that. We have --
GOV. JINDAL: (Laughs.) Well, thank you.
MS. ROBERTS: Governor, it's good to have you here live in our studio. We appreciate it very much.
GOV. JINDAL: Thank you for having me.
MS. ROBERTS: You just heard the secretary of Homeland Security say that former vice president Dick Cheney is just wrong -- in her words, just wrong when he says that the U.S. is less safe under Obama.
Do you agree?
GOV. JINDAL: Well, two things. One, I think, Democrat or Republican, we should all agree that our current president and our former president would obviously want to do everything they could to keep us safe. I don't think we should question President Obama's patriotism or his intentions.
Having -- and we shouldn't question President Bush's patriotism or intentions.
Having said that, I think it's fine to have an honest disagreement on the policies that both administrations would choose to try to keep us safe. I am quite honestly pleasantly surprised to see that President Obama has shown more flexibility when it comes to Iraq than maybe some of the campaign rhetoric suggested.
We're hearing him say that, for example -- at least if not him, his senior officials are saying we'll listen to commanders on the ground. Hearing more flexibility, if they decide they need more troops beyond troops beyond the deadlines that they set up in the campaign, they're willing to listen to that and maybe adjust their plans.
That's the kind of pragmatism -- listening to the commanders on the ground, I think's very important.
Now, the president just came back from an extended trip overseas. I, for one, I'm more -- at some point we need to stop going overseas and apologizing, criticizing our predecessors.
I think it's great that he's certainly well received in foreign capitals, but I'd like to see more substantive changes from our allies. I would have liked to have seen NATO put more troops in Afghanistan. I would have liked to have seen more consensus on the economic challenges we're facing internationally.
So I hope we're moving beyond the campaign into more substantive policies. At the end of the day, I don't think we should be questioning either this or the previous administration's intentions, but I think it's fair to have a debate on the policies.
I think it's too early to know -- they're talking about closing Gitmo. Where are those prisoners going to go? I certainly don't want to see them coming into the United States, don't want to see them released into our prisons, our states.
And so let's give the new administration a chance. Let's not question their intentions, but let's have a real debate on their policies.
MS. ROBERTS: Let's talk about the economic issues here at home.
Yesterday, the tea parties that we saw all across the country -- you talk about disagreement -- folks that were protesting the government spending and the stimulus packages and such in the budget.
I know that you sent out some e-mails to your supporters in Louisiana letting them know where tea parties were in your state. That was something you supported yesterday?
GOV. JINDAL: Absolutely. As an American, as a taxpayer, I very much worry about the spending out of Washington -- nearly $1 trillion on the stimulus, $410 billion appropriation bill with over 8,000 earmarks, $3.5 trillion budget.
And here's what I worry about. As a family, we've got to balance our budget. We can't spend more than we take in. As a state, I've got to balance my budget. We've cut spending; we've cut taxes.
But in D.C., they continue to borrow and spend. Ultimately that's going to mean higher taxes for all of us.
As a candidate, Senator Obama, then-Senator Obama talked about cutting taxes for 95 percent of Americans. Talked about making work pay. Talked about getting rid of the capital gains tax for small businesses, or at least reducing that rate. Talked about a lot of different policies.
Now we don't hear that. We heard about they were going to crack down on earmarks. I think we need to give the president the line-item veto. I think we need to give them a balanced budget amendment.
We cannot continue to tax, spend, borrow our way back into prosperity. I worry about the debt we're creating for our children and our grandchildren.
Yes, we need to tackle the economic challenges facing us, but you look at some of the spending coming out of Washington and I think the reason you see that frustration yesterday is people looked at that stimulus bill and said, what is $1 billion for the Census, what does $300 million for new government cars have to do with stimulus?
MS. ROBERTS: Well, we did see that stimulus money, in essence, has helped in your state. You're below the national average when it comes to unemployment, in part because you've received -- and needed it, the money since Katrina, and those folks on the Mississippi Gulf Coast -- $51 billion you have received in less than four years.
And again, your unemployment rate is less than the national average. So doesn't that show that when there is government money and there is spending, that it does help?
GOV. JINDAL: Two things. One, certainly, look -- the federal levees didn't do what they were supposed to do after Katrina. They broke, flooded, over 1,000 people died. You had over $100 billion worth of damage.
So certainly when the federal government designed and built levees improperly, I'm certainly going to make sure and fight to make sure they come back and rebuild those levees properly and try to help people rebuild the damaged caused by defective levees.
We're not, certainly, saying that there shouldn't be any government spending, but we're saying that it should be temporary, targeted, responsible.
The concerns I've got is that under the guise of addressing our economic challenges, you're seeing all kinds of spending. Take the best-case scenario.
Even if you assumed the best, most optimistic assumptions, you're still looking at deficits of over half a trillion, maybe as much as a trillion dollars a year. That's not sustainable. Our children and grandchildren have to pay that back.
And when you look at the earmarks and the spending coming out of Washington, you see a lot of it is wasteful spending as well.
MS. ROBERTS: You're doing a lot of traveling. You're here in New York; you were in Iowa right after the election. Presidential aspirations?
GOV. JINDAL: Two things. I'm running for reelection. We've got a lot more work to do in Louisiana. We've cut taxes, creating jobs, reforming our ethics laws from some of the weakest to some of the strongest in the country.
In the Republican Party there's all this focus on who the messenger is. Let's focus on the message and the substance. Let's show the American people we've got relevant solutions to their concerns on the energy crisis, on the economic crisis, on the cost of health care. Let's stop worrying about the messenger.
But I'm running for reelection. We've got a lot more work to do in Louisiana.
MS. ROBERTS: Okay, but you didn't say no. (Laughter.)
Governor Jindal, thank you. Thank you very much. We appreciate your time here.
GOV. JINDAL: Thank you, Robin. Thank you very much.
MS. ROBERTS: Give all the best to the great state of Louisiana.
GOV. JINDAL: And we're proud of you. Thank you.
MS. ROBERTS: Thank you so much.
(End videotaped segment.)