Jindal: This president wants to be all about redistribution

Louisiana governor speaks out


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 21, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: To Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, who has also seen what is going on here.

Governor, good to have you.

What are you getting a sense of what is a fair -- a fair tax for the uppermost income? Right now, it's officially set at 39.6 percent, but, as you know, with surtaxes for paying for the health care and everything, closer to 44 percent, 45 percent. But what do you think should be a fair top rate?

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, R-LA.: Well, Neil, first of all, thank you for having me back on your show. It's always great to talk to you.

Three things. One, with this president, you have always got to be not -- I think the real word you need to be asking is, how do you define wealthy? With this president and with the Democratic governors, they keep saying a millionaire tax. And they start applying it lower and lower level of incomes. There's never enough money for them.

In terms of looking at the tax code, I think that's the wrong way to look at the tax code. This president wants to be all about redistribution. I think, in America, we look at federal taxes, we look at federal policies to promote opportunity and growth, not redistribution, like they do in Europe.

Finally, in terms of the overall size of government, historically, it's been around 18 percent of our economy. It's been near record post-World War II highs, 24 -- over 24 percent. It's now still in the 20s, but it's going down. I think we need to be looking at shrinking government, lower tax rates, fewer credits, fewer carve-outs, fewer crony capitalism and special deals.


CAVUTO: All right, how much lower? But how much lower? If the top rate now is about 40 percent, what would you think it should be lowered to?

JINDAL: Well, look, I think we need -- I think the way you look at that is, you need to prioritize what the federal government should be doing, shouldn't be doing. We have got to defend our country.

There's a lot of nonsense the federal government is doing right now that we shouldn't be doing. We need to be paying down our debt. At the end of the day, I think that historical -- if our federal government historically has been about 18 percent of the economy, that's not a bad level to get back to. That's a lot lower than we are today. Get the federal government out of things, and then you can figure out your tax rates.

CAVUTO: You say 18 percent, to get back to that level. Do you think all comparable tax rates should begin at around that level?

JINDAL: No, I'm saying, Neil, that you start by saying, all right, if the government is spending 18 percent of the economy, then you can figure out, how do you get a lower, flatter tax right now?

CAVUTO: Got you.

JINDAL: But the rates are very high. But then there are carve-outs, so not everybody has to pay those taxes.

And that's kind of -- that's ridiculous. Right now, if you have got a lobbyist, if you're connected, you can get special treatment. So, you figure out what the core functions of the federal government are, not all the nonsense they're trying like Obamacare and all this stuff they're trying to do today.

I think it should be about -- and I think they should cap it, by the way. I think we need a constitutional amendment saying the federal government shouldn't grow faster than our economy, than our private sector economy, so they don't keep spending more while our paychecks aren't growing.

CAVUTO: All right. Now, I'm sounding obnoxious, and I apologize.

If you became president -- and you're in that short list to possibly run for president -- are you telling me that you would advocate cutting all tax rates across the board, including that top one, or what?

JINDAL: Absolutely. I think rates need to be lower on everybody.


CAVUTO: Can you give me a hint of what you would bring them to?

JINDAL: But, again, I think, Neil, the way you figure that out is if you say what -- first, you have got to cut spending, prioritize what the federal government should and shouldn't be doing. I have said it, a target of 18 percent.

CAVUTO: Right. Right.

JINDAL: And then you can figure out what your flat tax rates are.

You figure out, what is the cost? Right now, the real problem is, we don't even know the real cost of all the giveaways and hidden subsidies and carve-outs there are in the tax codes. We know there are plenty of folks that can hire lobbyists, aren't paying the same rate that you and I pay.

But that's how you figure out what your rates should be. But they definitely should be lower than they are today. They should definitely be flatter. Look, we have done that in the state of Louisiana. We have cut our budget 26 percent. We have cut -- largest income tax cut in our state's industry.

We could do the same thing at the federal level as well.

CAVUTO: Well, you know, back in your state, your -- your -- the Times- Picayune newspaper editorial blasted your performance in that regard, Governor, saying you're looking at a $1.4 billion deficit because you're sticking to principle all right when it comes to finding the president's health care law an anathema, but you're not taking the Medicaid money that other Republican governors who are similarly opposed to taking.

I think Chris Christie has. And as a result, you're in a deep hole and a lot of Louisianians are hurting. And what do you say to that?

JINDAL: Well, Neil, three things.

The shortfall that is projected for next year, by the way, is based on falling oil prices. Falling oil prices are great for consumers. I would much rather have our consumers have more money in their pockets, even if it means less revenue for government.


CAVUTO: I think what they're saying, though, sir -- I'm sorry -- just to be clear, they're saying that these 242 uninsured Louisianians would not be in the potential pickle they're in if you had sworn off this extra Medicaid money.

What do you say?

JINDAL: Well, the reality is, if we had done Medicaid expansion, we would have kicked over 200,000 people out of private insurance.

More people would have been moved out of private insurance into Medicaid than uninsured would have been moved into Medicaid. That makes no sense to me. We're going to have more people in the cart rather than pulling the cart. It would have cost our taxpayers over a billion dollars over 10 years.

So we can't simply keep printing money, borrowing money and pretending like nobody has to pay the bills. And then finally the Medicaid system is not a very effective program. You look at the Oregon study, they showed -- this was a Harvard study -- they looked at Medicaid expansion up there and they actually showed, Neil, after a couple of years, there was absolutely no average improvements in physical health care outcomes.

So, just getting everybody a Medicaid card is not really accomplishing anything. What we have done, we have gotten our uninsured rate for our children down below 5 percent. We have privatized through public-private partners our charity hospitals. We have gotten a real safety net for the uninsured.

Under the public sector, it used to take 10 days, for example, in Baton Rouge to get a prescription filled. Now you can get it done in several minutes. It used to be a six-month wait in Lafayette to see an oncologist. Now they have got specialists on staff, showing there are public-private partnerships that don't involve borrowing money from China to expand a broken entitlement program.

Here's the problem. You heard this in the president's State of the Union last night. From the left, from the editorial pages of these newspapers, they pretend like everything's for free. These are federal dollars. Well, we're federal taxpayers down here in Louisiana too. We can't keep giving away things for free, borrowing money from China.

The better solution is grow your economy. In Louisiana, our country has grown twice as fast as the national economy. We have created now more people in Louisiana working than ever before with a higher income than ever before. We actually have over 80,000 new jobs coming into our state, over $50 billion in capital investment.

I think that's a better solution than more government spending and more government borrowing.

CAVUTO: I want to get your thoughts on what you made of MSNBC dismissing this commentary they use, a human rights attorney, I guess, Arsalan Iftikhar, who had criticized you and your Muslim no-go zone -- no-go zone comments, saying, that, "I think Governor Jindal is protecting -- protesting a bit too much."

He went on to say, "He might be trying to, you know, scrub some of the brown off of his skin, as he runs to the right in a Republican presidential exploratory bid."

Now, obviously, he's referring to the fact, obnoxiously so, by the way, that you're of Indian descent. But they let go of him. But he said to CNN when he was asked about this that, "I will apologize to Bobby Jindal when he apologizes to seven million American Muslims for advancing this debunked Muslim no-go zones myth."

What do you say?

JINDAL: Well, a couple of things.

I think it's foolish that MSNBC even gave somebody like this a platform. But here's the real issue. I know the left -- and I knew the left was going to go crazy when I called out radical Islamic terrorism, when I actually said that Muslim leaders have a responsibility not just to denounce violence, but to say that these barbarous, these murderous terrorists, these evil individuals aren't going to be martyrs, they're not going to enjoy a reward in the afterlife, but rather they're going straight to hell.

I knew that was politically incorrect. I knew it was politically incorrect when I said it, saying that we need integration and assimilation for people that want to come live in our society and our country, that it's not right for them to reject the very freedoms that are a part of our Judeo-Christian heritage.


CAVUTO: Did you know that the term no-go zones was wrong? We reported the same, and we were wrong. We botched it. We apologized for it.

You are not, I take it?

JINDAL: Not at all.

Neil, no, look, I think what you apologized, what your network apologized for was calling an entire city a no-go zone. That's not true. But there absolutely are neighborhoods. And the same day I made those remarks, there was a police chief in London that said this in The Daily Mail.

There absolutely are neighborhoods where the police are less likely to go in. There are neighborhoods in the U.K. and in France that have been documented, very well-documented by Ambassador Bolton and others where there are attempts to impose Sharia law. There are neighborhoods where women do not feel comfortable walking in without veils.

There are neighborhoods where -- and that crimes that the London police -- that this police chief in London described that were being underreported were serious crimes, like violence, like female domestic abuse, like child abuse, serious crimes that are going underreported...


CAVUTO: But are those no-go zones? Are those no-go zones or what?

JINDAL: Oh, look, you can call them whatever term you want. But absolutely there are neighborhoods where you have communities of people that don't want to integrate, don't want to assimilate.

They may be second, third, fourth generation, but they don't consider themselves part of that country. They're actually going in there to colonize, to overtake the culture. That's what going to happen in America if we're not careful.

The reality is, if you come to our country -- we don't care what color your skin is. We don't care what your religion or creed is. But we do expect you to respect religious liberty, freedom of speech, the right of freedom of self-determination.

Neil, let's be care -- let's be clear what we're dealing with; we're dealing with folks that -- that -- that -- radicals that believe it's OK to go kill over 150 children in a Pakistan school, to kill people in France because they didn't like the cartoons they were drawing. They're killing teenagers for watching soccer.

The reality is, these are barbarians that are using military tactics against civilian populations. It used to be OK to call America the melting pot. Now the politically correct wants to say, look, we can't impose our culture on others, we can't impose our values on others. That's nonsense.

CAVUTO: But you obviously are aware, Governor, with your rising stature and a possible presidential run, that the other side, Democrats more to the point, would seize on this. A spokesman for the Democratic National Committee saying: "It's no surprise that Bobby Jindal will go ahead and butcher the facts in an effort to divide people. This is exactly what we have come to expect. Jindal is just embarrassing himself."

What do you say?

JINDAL: Look, I think it's embarrassing the president somehow, for some reason, doesn't want to use the word terrorist to describe these individuals, doesn't want to use the words radical Islam.

I hope and governor the majority of Muslims do not share the views of these radical terrorists. But I think it's time for the leaders to denounce the individuals, not just the acts of violence. Look, I know the left wants us to tiptoe around the truth. I'm not going to do it.

The president -- and part of the president's job, as the leader of our country and the leader of the free world, is to state clearly and honestly to us what are the challenges we face. We're at war with radical Islam. Whether he wants to call it that or not, that is exactly the conflict we face.

I know the left is not going to like it. But, Neil, I'm also ready for us to stop calling ourselves hyphenated Americans. Part of this assimilation -- I have talked about the responsibilities for Muslim leaders. We have responsibilities as well. We need to stop calling ourselves African- American, Indian-Americans.

My parents came here over 40 years ago. They wanted their kids to be Americans. They love India. They loved our heritage. If they wanted us to be Indians, they would have stayed in India.

We also need to be teaching our kids in civics in our schools about American exceptionalism. We need to insist on English as our language in this country. I have nothing against anybody who wants to come here to be an American.

But if people don't want to come to integrate and assimilate, what they're really trying to do is set up their own culture, their own communities. What they're really trying to do is overturn our culture. We need to recognize that threat, what that threat is to us.

If we don't, we are going to see a replica of what's happened in Europe in America. We are going to see our own no-go zones if we're not serious about insisting on assimilation and integration.

CAVUTO: So, you're not taking anything back?

JINDAL: Absolutely not.


JINDAL: And I wish that the president would join me in recognizing the...


JINDAL: ... we face.

CAVUTO: All right.

Let me switch gears about a woman who wants to be president, or seems to be all but indicating a run for president, Hillary Clinton.

She tweeted last night while I was covering the speech, the State of the Union speech on FOX Business -- which, Governor, if you don't get, you should demand, but I digress.

While she said that it was a good message for the middle class and obviously hinting, as did other Democrats, that this president was standing firmly with the middle class by, you know, offering tax breaks for the middle class, albeit paid by the upper class -- but what do you make of that, and that Democrats have a better handle on this issue, and Republicans are being sucked into a populist rage that they're missing, that they're defending the rich, even if it means ticking off everyone else?

What do you say?

JINDAL: Two things.

One, I think Republicans are perfectly willing to sit down with the Democrats, with the White House on a fair comprehensive tax overall that gets rid of breaks and lower rates. What we're not willing to do is to simply grow the size of government.

This president has given the same speech, just different cosmetic appearances on it, several times, where it's all about more government spending, more government giveaway programs, ignoring the $18 trillion of debt and counting we have already accumulated, created a brand-new entitlement program, when we can't afford the programs we have got.

I wish, Neil, he would have talked about growth instead. I wish he had talked about how repealing Obamacare would help to create more jobs, how energy independence can lead to a manufacturing boom, how the Keystone pipeline is the largest infrastructure project out there privately financed with no government spending.

He was ridiculed over shovel-ready projects a few years ago in his first term. Here's a shovel-ready project that doesn't require us to borrow money from China.

CAVUTO: All right.

JINDAL: I wish he'd said the middle class is hurting. Let's grow their incomes, let's grow the economy to help them. Let's not simply tax more, spend more, borrow more.

That's no longer working.

CAVUTO: Governor Jindal, thank you, sir, very, very much.

JINDAL: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: Governor Jindal, all right.

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