Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal challenged the recent Republican drumbeat decrying bloated government spending and deficits Friday, saying that the conservative movement’s “obsession with zeroes” and federal spending only serves to narrow the political discourse to its opponents’ turf.
After rehashing some jokes from the recent Gridiron Club dinner — “You know, I understand because of the sequester, the president’s secret service detail has been replaced by Joe Biden with a shotgun” — Mr. Jindal outlined a different path for conservatives to win the argument and then win elections, paraphrasing former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
“Right now, we’ve got one party that wants to be in charge of the federal government so they can expand it,” he said. “We’ve got another party that wants to be in charge of the federal government so they can get it under control. I’m here to tell you that’s a terrible debate. It is a debate that is fought entirely on our opponents’ terms.”
He called such a tussle “a very small and short-sighted debate.”
“If our vision isn’t greater than that, we don’t deserve to win,” he said. “Today’s conservatism is in love with zeroes. … It is the wrong game for us to be playing.”
“We must not become the party of austerity — we must become the party of growth,” he continued. “Of course we know that government’s out of control. The public knows that, too. And yet we just lost an election. We must not continue to fight on our opponents’ terms.”
Still, a broad overhaul of the party’s core values isn’t the answer either, he said.
“Our principles are timeless,” he said. “We already have one liberal party in America — we don’t need another one. But we do need to re-orient our focus to the place conservatism thrives in the real world beyond Washington and beyond the Beltway.”