Louisiana has had its share of disasters during Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) time holding political office, from hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 (when Jindal was a congressman) to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that threatened the state’s beaches and waterways in 2010. The federal government came to Louisiana’s aid in each case, spending billions of dollars in emergency disaster funds to help clean up and rebuild the state in the aftermath of the disasters. In none of those instances did Congress offset the emergency funds with spending cuts, and in none of those instances did Jindal go out of his way to ask them to.
But with states across the nation rebuilding in the aftermath of hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and tornadoes, Jindal wants to put restrictions on emergency funds that didn’t exist for the funds that benefited his own state. In an appearance on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown today, Jindal told host Chuck Todd that deficits and debt are a “man-made disaster,” and because of those, the disaster relief funds for New Jersey, Virginia, and other states in desperate need of relief “should be offset”:
TODD: There’s been a movement afoot to…search for budget offsets now, a change frankly. [...] Any advice for your fellow Republicans in the House when dealing with disaster relief?
JINDAL: We certainly as a state benefited after Katrina and Rita from the generosity of the American people. I fully support making sure the resources, the necessary resources, are there to help. [...] I do however, also support, at the same time, so they need, they deserve the help they need to get back on their feet. At the same time, I do think these dollars should be offset, should be part of a balanced approach to the budget. The reality is the deficit, the debt in DC is not caused by natural disasters, that’s a man-made disaster.
While some Republicans fought to offset Hurricane Katrina funding, Jindal was not among them, and neither was then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), who argued that the funds should be deficit financed. And in 2008, Jindal traveled to Washington to lobby Congress to preserve $400 million in funding for ongoing hurricane relief and recovery efforts that had been stripped because they weren’t offset by other cuts.
Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond (D), who represents New Orleans, recently told the New Orleans Times-Picayune he couldn’t imagine what would have happened had Republicans held disaster relief hostage for the millions driven out when Katrina put his city under water. “We would have been waiting for months or even years for the assistance we needed to get New Orleans up and running again,” Richmond said. Jindal, apparently, has forgotten that.