(Photo: Reuters/Sean Gardner)
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) is preparing to run for president in 2016, according to some political observers in Louisiana.
"You don't get any argument from anybody down here that Jindal's running for president – it's just an accepted fact, like the sun rising in the East," Bob Mann, a former aide to two Democratic Louisiana governors, told Politico.
While Jindal spent much of his first gubernatorial term passing popular legislation with broad bipartisan support, Emily Schultheis observed for Politico that he is now working on issues that would appeal more to Republican primary voters.
Last year, Jindal helped pass some of the most sweeping school choice reforms in the country, and now, he is attempting to abolish the state's income tax and recently rejected the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare."
School choice is widely popular among Republicans. It is also viewed as a policy that could help the Republican Party in its efforts to attract more non-white and urban voters. Due to their close ties with teacher's unions, Democrats generally oppose school choice, even though the programs are often popular with the inner-city and working class populations that elect them.
Since you get less of what you tax and more of what you do not tax, most economists agree that taxing consumption (such as a sales tax) is preferable to taxing production (such as an income tax). There is a concern among some, mostly Democrats, though, that increasing a sales tax to get rid of an income tax would disproportionately hurt the poor because the sales tax is regressive (the lower a person's income, the higher the proportion of the income will go toward paying the tax).
Jindal's decision to reject Obamacare's Medicaid expansion (which is allowed without penalty due to a Supreme Court decision), is another in which Democrats will claim that Jindal is hurting the poor.
While the federal government would pay most of the costs for the expansion in the early years, Jindal and some other Republican governors worry that state costs will rise dramatically in the future, requiring higher taxes or cuts to other state government programs. Also, while Medicaid is a government health insurance program for the poor, the Obamacare expansion would increase the number of those eligible such that even many middle-income families would be on the program.
Democrats have generally promoted putting more Americans on government health insurance programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, or greater federal government control of private health care, such as the health care exchanges under Obamacare. Republicans, such as Jindal, on the other hand, generally want Americans to have greater control over their own health care through a private market.
Jindal recently became chair of the Republican Governor's Association, which could help him further build relationships and increase his national profile among Republican groups.
In 2008, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked Jindal to be his running mate in his race against then Senator Barack Obama. Jindal turned him down and McCain chose Alaska Governor Sarah Palin instead. If Jindal was thinking about a future presidential run at the time, he may have calculated that the policy innovations that were possible at the state level created a better platform with which to run for president.
Examples can also be found on the Democratic side. Democratic Governors Andrew Cuomo (N.Y.) and Martin O'Malley (Md.) are also believed to be interested in a future presidential run and have promoted policies that seem geared toward appealing to Democratic primary voters.
Cuomo recently helped pass some of the most sweeping gun regulations in the country and is trying to pass one of the most pro-abortion laws in the country. O'Malley is also attempting to pass gun control legislation, and has been one of the early adopters in implementing Obamacare and the Obama Education Department's "Common Core" standards.