I’m not even thinking about the next presidential race, but, if I had to make a choice right now for Republican nominee, it would be Bobby Jindal (since Mitch Daniels seems out of the running.)  I got around reading his big speech yesterday (h/t to Julie Ponzi) and here are a few hasty thoughts:

1.  Jindal says:

Today’s conservatism is in love with zeroes.

We think if we can just unite behind a proposal to cut the deficit and debt . . . if we can just put together a spreadsheet and a power point and a TV ad . . . .all will be well.

Am I the only one who read that as a thinly disguised shot at Paul Ryan?

2.  Jindal also says:

 If you take nothing else away from what I say today, please understand this – We must not become the party of austerity. We must become the party of growth.

There is something to that, but we are going to get to the point where the party or parties in power are going to have to be for some kind of austerity.  Our spending obligations are just too big to be sustained at our current level of taxation.   That will mean a combination of spending cuts and tax increases (though we have just had a set of tax increases over the last several years.)  The proportion of spending cuts to tax increases will matter as will the structure of the spending and taxation.  Spending cut-focused fiscal consolidations seem to hurt the economy a lot less.   Jindal is right of course.  Getting to a sustainable budget is a means to an end not an end unto itself.  But call it whatever you want, the spending cuts required for spending cut-focused reform will sure look like austerity.  The trick is making it a better deal than whatever version of austerity the Democrats produce.

3.  Jindal said:

We should let the other side try to sell Washington’s ability to help the economy, while we promote the entrepreneur, the risk-taker, the self-employed woman who is one sale away from hiring her first employee.

I understand that Republican want to talk a lot about entrepreneurs and they should,  but they need to avoid the trap of sounding like they are only focused on entrepreneurs and would be entrepreneurs.  If talking about entrepreneurs who “built that” was the key to winning, Mitt Romney would be Galactic Emperor.  By all means, talk entrepreneurs, but there is little chance that the GOP will talk too little about this subject.  Republicans would be better off talking more about how their policies would benefit parents and patients - even ones who are not (or not yet) aspiring business owners.

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