Rebuttal: Jindal calls spending ‘irresponsible’

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who delivered the Republican response to President Obama’s first speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, painted Democrats as “irresponsible” for increasing government spending during a time of economic turmoil.

“To solve our current problems, Washington must lead. But the way to lead is not to raise taxes and put more money and power in hands of Washington politicians,” Mr. Jindal said during his televised rebuttal. “The way to lead is by empowering you - the American people.”

“The strength of America is not found in our government,” he added. “It is found in the compassionate hearts and enterprising spirit of our citizens.”

The Republican Party, desperate for a charismatic leader to help lift it from the political wilderness, picked Mr. Jindal, a young political prodigy who has been frequently mentioned as a potential candidate for the 2012 presidential election.

To read the text of the GOP response, click here.

In an inspirational tone reminiscent of the president’s speech, Mr. Jindal tried to assure Americans - and potential voters - that the country has the ability to overcome its current troubles.

“Our troubles are real, to be sure. But don’t let anyone tell you that we cannot recover, or that America’s best days are behind her, he said. “The American spirit has triumphed over almost every form of adversity known to man, and the American spirit will triumph again.”

Yet the governor said his party is also to blame for leading the country down a wrong path, saying that Republicans didn’t deliver on their campaign promises to cut pork-barrel projects and excessive spending and that American voters “rightly” lost trust in them in recent years.

“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,” Mr. Jindal said Tuesday night.

But the governor said his party is determined to regain that trust.

“We will do so by standing up for the principles that we share, the principles you elected us to fight for, the principles that built this into the greatest, most prosperous country on earth,” he said.

Mr. Jindal has had a meteoric political ascension - he was elected governor in 2007 at age 36 after serving less than two terms in the U.S. House, becoming the first Indian-American governor in U.S. history and the first nonwhite governor of Louisiana since Reconstruction.

“Governor Jindal is a rising star and is a part of a new generation of leadership within the Republican Party,” said Ken Spain, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

He was first elected to the U.S. House in 2004 at the age of 33. He was immediately elected class president - a presage of his political aspirations as well as his influence among colleagues. He was re-elected two years later with 88 percent of the vote.

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