02/25/2013 07:41 pm ET Updated Feb 25, 2013

Bobby Jindal's Evolving Populist Pitch

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal coined a memorable post-election phrase in November when, a week after the 2012 election, he said the GOP had to stop being "the stupid party."

On Monday, during a press conference focused mostly on the sequester debate, Jindal snuck in another clever phrase that neatly captures the outsider image he is cultivating.

"What's clear to me is we've gone from the greed of Wall Street that caused many of our problems, to today the greed of government," he said. "And Washington D.C. is the one boom town, the one recession proof town during these economically challenging times."

Jindal, who appeared at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, was talking about how he thinks the impact of the sequester should not be as damaging as the White House is arguing it will be.

"I think the American people know there's at least three percent of wasteful spending in the federal government, that these kinds of reductions can be made without jeopardizing national security … without jeopardizing food inspections or critical health care services," Jindal said.

From the greed of Wall Street to the greed of government. That phrase, while not as pithy or succinct as the "stupid party," launches a conservative critique of President Obama's quest for higher tax revenues from the positioning of a populist who also condemns the financial sector's contribution to the financial crisis. It's a message Jindal was pushing back in November, but the "stupid party" comment got all the attention.

Yet even then, Jindal told Jonathan Martin that the GOP is "a populist party and we’ve got to make that clear going forward."

And in a CNN op-ed that same week in November, Jindal wrote that the GOP should "quit 'big.'"

"We are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, or big anything. We must not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys," Jindal wrote.

Jindal said then that he was supportive of capital requirements for banks, and for something similar to the Volcker Rule. It will be interesting to see whether he'll come out in support of breaking up the big banks at some point.

One interesting side note regarding Jindal's populist positioning: political observers in Louisians believe he has been pushed on the issue by none other than U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La), who has joined with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to propose legislation cracking down on big banks. Vitter is also a leading candidate to run for governor of Louisiana in 2015.

Vitter and Jindal have a long, complicated and not so friendly history. So it's not unreasonable to think Jindal does not want to be outflanked on in the economic populism arena.



United States Governors