To: Interested Parties
From: Stephen Handwerk
Date: Oct. 1, 2014
RE: Jindal and Boehner Dragging Down Cassidy’s Support in LA-SEN Race?
National pundits have to date focused on the potential impact of President Barack Obama on the outcome of Louisiana’s Senate race. The Beltway prism tends to revolve around the White House, but Republican leaders in D.C. and Louisiana could play just as big a role in holding down Congressman Bill Cassidy’s support from Louisiana Republicans and independents.
The Public Policy Polling survey of Louisiana voters released yesterday revealed that while the president’s approval numbers are underwater, Gov. Bobby Jindal has even worse numbers. Only 34 percent of those surveyed approve of Jindal’s job performance, while 55 percent disapprove. Jindal’s numbers have been creeping ever lower, and last week saw his former health secretary indicted on charges of perjury.
Another poll released yesterday by LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab found widespread dissatisfaction with Congress among both parties. However, a majority of Republican voters in Louisiana disapprove of the job their own Republican leaders in Congress are doing. John Boehner, Mitch McConnell — even Louisiana Republicans aren’t big fans.
As Jindal flits from early primary state to early primary state, some folks are starting to notice that Jindal has been conspicuously absent from the Cassidy campaign. Maybe it’s because Jindal has been kindly asked to stay away or maybe he’s covertly supporting Rob Maness, as his old ally, Tony Perkins, is overtly doing.
Whatever the reason, Cassidy can’t run far enough to get away from the failed policies that both he and Jindal have backed. Consider, for example:
- Hospital privatization — Cassidy prominently highlights his service as a doctor at Earl K. Long Hospital in Baton Rouge as part of his biography. What he fails to mention is that Jindal has shuttered that hospital as part of his hospital privatization scheme, a plan so shoddily crafted that the federal government shot down its financing plan earlier this year. Cassidy has supported Jindal’s privatization scheme that is dismantling the charity and university hospital system. This summer another hospital in Cassidy’s own congressional district nearly closed its emergency room because of the stream of uninsured patients flocking to their doors. Cassidy was nowhere to be found as Baton Rouge General’s Mid-City Campus almost shuttered its emergency room because of Jindal’s failed policies.
- Medicaid expansion — The poll released by Public Policy Polling found a majority of Louisianians support Medicaid expansion. However, both Cassidy and Jindal have steadfastly opposed Louisiana accepting more than $16 billion in federal funding to help expand access to affordable health care. More than 240,000 working Louisianians are falling into the “Jindal gap” — making too much for Medicaid and not enough for subsidies on the health insurance exchange. Despite the fact that Republicans David Vitter and Jay Dardenne have opened the door to finding a compromise on Medicaid expansion, Cassidy and Jindal continue to oppose it, and Cassidy has even said that having Medicaid insurance is “actually worse” than being uninsured.
- Minimum wage — Yesterday’s PPP poll also found a majority of Louisianians back raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour. Jindal opposes raising the minimum wage — despite the fact that he actually voted for a minimum wage hike during the Bush Administration when he was in Congress. Cassidy also opposes raising the minimum wage and has suggested it hurts low-income working people. The nonpartisan Louisiana Budget Project found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would provide a direct pay raise for 360,000 Louisiana workers, create an estimated 3,300 full-time jobs and pump nearly $689 million into the state’s economy.
Even if Cassidy is hiding from appearances from Jindal (or vice versa), he can’t hide from the unpopular agenda they both support.
This March Cassidy declined to comment whether he would back Mitch McConnell for Republican Leader if he were elected to the Senate. On the other hand, Cassidy has taken partisan vote after partisan vote as directed by House Speaker John Boehner. Even though Boehner has presided over the least-productive Congress in modern American history, House Republicans have managed to pass a few poorly regarded pieces of legislation.
A few highlights from the Boehner/Cassidy agenda:
- Ryan Budget — Cassidy has voted repeatedly for the Paul Ryan’s budget plan, a key part of Boehner’s legislative agenda. The Ryan budget proposal ends Medicare as we know it and removes the safety net our seniors have come to rely on. Cassidy has also backed raising the age to receive Social Security and Medicare benefits to 70, while at the same time slashing benefits by tens of thousands of dollars.
- GOP Shutdown — Boehner’s 16-day shutdown of the federal government in 2013 cost Louisiana more than $90 million in economic activity. Cassidy backed the shutdown and voted 16 times with his House Republican colleagues against efforts to reopen the government. Louisianians overwhelmingly opposed the GOP shutdown.
- Student Loans — Boehner’s plan for student loans ended federal subsidies for the program and tied loan rates to the whims of Wall Street. Cassidy has voted to cut billions in school funding, while opposing increases to Pell Grants and supporting increases in interest rates on student loans, which help students and their families afford college.
Ultimately, Cassidy’s record shows that he supports radical policies that have torpedoed the popularity of Jindal and Boehner. It’s no surprise Cassidy doesn’t want to be seen with either one. Maybe he could ask Eric Cantor for some fundraising help? We hear he’s got some time on his hands.