The dome on the Republican Party in Louisiana is showing a fissure as the tit-for-tat over budget priorities between Gov. Bobby Jindal and state Treasurer John Kennedy gains momentum.
The spat got a head of steam earlier this week when Kennedy released an open letter to the Jindal administration accusing it of using scare tactics in an effort to bring pressure on lawmakers to restore nearly $270 million in cuts made to next fiscal year’s budget: “[P] please stop scaring our healthcare and higher education communities over the changes made to HB 1 by a majority vote of the Louisiana House of Representatives. It is not necessary to make the draconian reductions to the healthcare and higher education budgets you and your staff have suggested in order to achieve the fiscally responsible goals of the House.”
Kennedy’s letter ticked off a 10-point plan to reduce state spending through various means including cutting the state payroll, collecting outstanding debts, trimming consulting contracts and reorganizing departments.
Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater responded with an open letter of his own to Kennedy answering the treasurer’s plan point-by-point and jabbing at Kennedy in the preamble: “We appreciate your input, but with all due respect, the numbers that you continue to use to support your case are not based in reality and the ideas you continue to advocate for will not work.”
The bon mot wrapped in tongue-in-cheek irony came from Jindal flack Kyle Plotkin, who said in a statement, “John Kennedy has a long history of using numbers that don’t add up and proposing the same-old, same-old half-baked gimmicks. There’s nothing new here. These gimmicks haven’t worked before, and they aren’t going to work now. He’s just one confused politician.”
It’s that last sentence in Plotkin’s invective that is designed to sting Kennedy the most: The “one confused politician” was used repeatedly and to great effect against him in a series of political ads in 2008 when he ran against U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu. Kennedy’s spokesman during that 2004 U.S. Senate campaign was — you guessed it — Kyle Plotkin.
Read Kennedy’s open letter here.
For more on the spat including Rainwater’s response, click here.