CNBC's Harwood Presses Gov. Jindal Over Opposition to Tax Hikes

October 28th, 2015 6:57 PM

Well, CNBC GOP debate moderator John Harwood didn't waste any time. Shortly into the "undercard" debate tonight, the journalist pressed Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal about whether he would "do for the federal budget what you did for the Louisiana budget" and citing "many Republicans are opposed to the approach that you've taken in Louisiana" by "tr[ying] so hard to avoid anything that can be called a tax increase."

Here's the relevant transcript:

Republican Presidential Debate
Oct. 28, 2015; 6:15 p.m. Eastern

JOHN HARWOOD, moderator: Governor Jindal, a question about fiscal policy, especially since you noted that this deal doesn't solve the long-term debt situation. When you came into office with a budget surplus in the State of Louisiana, now years later the state legislature faced a $1.6-billion budget gap and the Republican state treasurer called one of your approaches to that problem "Nonsense on a stick." Quoting him. Are you going to do for the federal budget what you did for the Louisiana budget?

Gov. BOBBY JINDAL (R-La.): Absolutely, John. And what we did is we cut state spending. We've cut our budget 26 percent. According to Cato and other analysis, the only candidate that's actually reduced government spending.

Look, the Left always complains there's not enough money for government. We have 30,000 fewer state employees than the day I took office. Eight credit upgrades, we're a top-ten state for private sector job creation. We've got a choice. Do you grow the government economy or the American economy?

When I became governor, we had 25 years of over of outmigration, we were coming back from Katrina. The question many were asking, will Louisiana rebuild, should Louisiana rebuild? Seven years in a row more people moving into the state than leaving the state. We now have more people working than ever before earning a higher income than ever before.

Yes, we've reduced the size of government, that's exactly what we need to do in D.C. In D.C., the Republicans slow the growth rate, they claim victory, that's not enough. Let's be honest with where we are today: we're running off of a cliff.

Look, we'll be the next Greece. We can talk, we can rearrange the chairs. Over $18 trillion of debt, no wonder our economy has been stagnant. We haven't had real growth. If you're a young student here, you've not seen a robust American economy.

JINDAL: But, Governor Jindal, as you know, many Republicans are opposed to the approach that you've taken in Louisiana. They complain that you have tried so hard to avoid anything that could be called a tax increase so that you could run for president saying you'd never raise taxes. David Vitter, the Republican who's now running to succeed you has told voters, "I won't be like Jindal, I'm not using the governorship as a stepping stone to higher office."