Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal accused the Obama administration of “waving the white flag of surrender” by not taking enough action on the economy.
“What I worry about is that this president and the White House seem to be waving the white flag of surrender after five years under this administration,” Jindal, a possible Republican presidential contender in 2016, told reporters Monday. “The Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy. I think we can do better than that. I think America can do do better than that.”
Jindal spoke alongside other members of the National Governors Association following a meeting with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), chairwoman of the National Governors Association, announced that Obama would decide on the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada within the next few months.
“I did ask the president when we could anticipate a decision on the Keystone pipeline and asked him to use his executive order power to do that,” Fallin said. “Finally, he did come back and say that he anticipated an answer one way or the other in a couple of months. So we hope that we will know one way or the other what the answer will be.”
Jindal framed the Keystone pipeline in the larger context of the Obama administration’s handling of the economy.
“In the State of the Union, the president talked about using his pen and talked about in subsequent speeches using his phone to take executive actions and bypass Congress. I made a few suggestions today,” Jindal said. “I’ve got additional suggestions on how do you do that if you were serious about growing the economy. Keystone pipeline is certainly one. Increasing drilling and leasing activity on federal land is another, things he can do on education and choice.”
Pipeline supporters say it would create at least 20,000 jobs and produce at least 800,000 barrels of oil, while opponents say it could contribute to global warming and worry about the possibility of spills. The State Department issued a finding this year that it would not have a significant impact on the environment.
After Jindal accused Obama of settling for a minimum wage economy, Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, a Democrat, jumped to the microphone to say “we just heard what I think ended up being the most partisan statement that we’ve had all weekend” and that “until a few moments ago, we were going down a pretty cooperative road.”
“Let me just say this, we don’t all agree on moving Canadian oil through the United States is necessarily the best thing for the United States economy,” Malloy said. “That’s not to say that we don’t want to make sure we’re maximizing our access to American gas and American oil. So there are clearly differences here quite frankly. In many states we don’t get revenue from those oil sources or gas sources. So let’s be clear that there are differences here.”
Malloy went on to defend an increase in the minimum wage. The wage is $8.70 in his state.
“So let’s be very clear, there are many people like myself who support a minimum wage,” he said. “We did it once in our state this year, 45 cents. We have a plan to get to $10.10. I don’t know what the heck was a reference to white flag. But it comes to people making $404 a week. So let’s be clear we had a great meeting and we didn’t go down that road, and it just started again and we didn’t start it.”
“If that was the most partisan statement he’s heard all weekend, I want to make sure he hears a more partisan statement,” Jindal said in response. “I think we could also grow the economy more if we delayed more of these Obamacare mandates. The reality is, if we’re serious about growing our economy, we shouldn’t accept a 2 to 3 percent growth. We shouldn’t accept a labor force participation rate that is the lowest it has been in 36 years. We shouldn’t accept policies like the minimum wage, which the [Congressional Budget Office] says would destroy 500,000 jobs. The CBO said that Obamacare would result in 2 million fewer Americans working. America can do better. America can absolutely grow its economy. We shouldn’t be waiving the white flag when it comes to growth. The president was gracious in meeting with us. Bipartisan doesn’t mean we have to ignore our really substantive differences.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney hit back at Jindal’s “minimum wage” charges.
“The president is trying to create a national economy where the minimum wage is $10.10 an hour,” Carney said during the White House press briefing. “Perhaps Governor Jindal prefers a Governor Jindal economy at $7.25 an hour. But the president certainly doesn’t. The American people certainly don’t. Because that wage, a minimum wage that is far behind the times, both economically and other ways, leaves hardworking Americas who work full time in poverty.”