Gov. Jindal cuts taxes, ignites Louisiana energy boom

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal appeared on CNBC’s “Mad Money with Jim Cramer” to talk about his state’s share of the Gulf Coast energy boom, finding Cramer to be a very appreciative audience.  (As the website for his show describes him, Cramer “couldn’t be more enthusiastic” about the use of new technology to unlock American energy resources, powering “a new industrial revolution right before our eyes.”

“We’re doing what Washington, D.C. is not doing,” said Governor Jindal, noting that Louisana’s economy is growing 50 percent faster than the national economy.  “Over $50 billion in projects announced in our state.  Over 80,000 new jobs.  It’s not rocket science.  What did we do?  We cut taxes.  We have the lowest taxes for our manufacturing facility anywhere in the country.  We’ve made it easier for people to invest.  We’ve got the top rated workforce training program in the country.  We cut back state spending so we cut the budget 26%.  Cut 28,000 government jobs.  We’re growing the private sector.  And, by the way, we’d be doing this across the country if Washington would just get out of the way.”

Cramer and Jindal talked about some of the big industrial firms opening and expanding operations in Louisiana, including Nucor, whose investment of over $3 billion Jindal was able to win away from Brazil in an international competition.  “Every American should be able to come down and look at that unbelievable plant, which has got high wages,” Cramer declared.  “At another time, it might never have been here.”

This exchange brought to mind a point made by Senator Ted Cruz at CPAC last weekend: instead of pushing for higher minimum wages, shouldn’t we be trying to create a large number of jobs that pay far beyond the minimum wage?  That’s the strategy Jindal has pursued in Louisiana… which, to bring CPAC references full circle, earned his state a spot on Texas Governor Rick Perry’s list of successful red states that Washington should be emulating.

Governor Jindal has no illusions about Washington following his lead, at least not for the time being.  “This administration’s been very clear,” he told Cramer.  “They don’t like pipelines.  They don’t like new refineries.  They don’t like new exploration.  They want energy to be expensive.  They like subsidizing through crony capitalism, expensive forms of energy.  This administration’s first energy secretary openly talked about wanting gasoline to be expensive.”

“I want energy to be cheap, affordable,” Jindal continued.  “I want to drive those manufacturing jobs here.  You’re right, we’re going to make products.  The question is, do we make the steel and the fertilizer?  Do we make those petrochemical products here in America?  Or do we make them overseas?  I’d rather make them here.  Not in China, not in Brazil.  Let’s make them in America.”

Jindal hopes that his focus on education reform will make the Louisiana workforce ever more attractive to investors, although he noted that many of the well-compensated jobs created over the past few years don’t require advanced degrees.  “These are the kinds of jobs we want our kids to have,” he said.  “They have benefits.  They’re careers.  These aren’t minimum-wage jobs.  These aren’t government jobs.  These are good-paying jobs where you can raise a family.”

America’s energy revolution – which broke out very much in spite of Barack Obama’s policies, and quite frankly to his horror – provides us with a rare window of opportunity to recapture lost industries that depend on cheap, plentiful energy.  Governor Jindal’s knowledge of these industries is encyclopedic.  “You can see why we’re taking jobs back from Asia, back from Europe,” he said.  “In part, you’re seeing the labor cost no longer the big differential because of our productivity.  But you’re also seeing this built-in advantage because of energy.  And because of that, we can bring good jobs back from overseas.  This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”