Bobby Jindal chides Republicans' 'obsession with zeroes'

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 16, 2013 08:50 hrs

Washington, March 16 (IANS) Chiding his own Republican Party's "obsession with zeroes" Louisiana's Indian American Governor Bobby Jindal said the conservatives were falling into "the sideshow trap" of a balanced federal budget.

"Today's conservatism is in love with zeroes," he told the Conservative Political Action Conference, being held just outside Washington, Friday referring to his party's tendency to place balancing the federal budget over all other issues.

"We seem to have an obsession with government bookkeeping. I'm here to tell you it's a rigged game. It's the wrong game for us to be playing," said Jindal, a potential Republican contender in 2016 presidential poll.

Jindal, who has emerged as a prominent voice for change within the Republican party since its loss in the November election, said budget cuts shouldn't become the Republican's calling card.

Instead, Republicans should focus on how best to grow the economy, he said. "We must not become the party of austerity. We must become the party of growth," he said calling the party's current narrow focus on the country's fiscal problems a diversion.

"The reality is these are government sideshows in Washington that we have let take centre stage," Jindal said of recent battles over increasing the federal debt ceiling and avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff.

"As conservatives we are falling into the sideshow trap," Jindal continued. "All of these sideshow debates are about the government. Today's conservatism is far too wrapped up in solving the hideous mess that is the federal budget."

Another Indian-American governor, South Carolina's Nikki Haley took the stage to introduce party's 2012 losing presidential contender Mitt Romney.

Haley, who wasn't originally scheduled to speak at the conservative meet, took shots at the Obama Administration, specifically over its decision to fight the Boeing plan to cut hundreds of workers at its North Charleston plant and its opposition to her state's law mandating voter identification at polls.

She also made familiar points about fighting the federal government from her state and pledged not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.

Haley had endorsed Romney during her state's primary and campaigned for him in battleground states during the presidential race.

But real estate mogul Donald Trump criticised both Jindal and Romney. He took aim at Jindal for saying at the Republican National Committee winter meeting that the party is acting like "the stupid party."

"When I heard that statement, I said what a horrible statement to make," Trump said. "What a horrible statement, because that's the statement that's going to come back and haunt you when the Democrats start using it."

Taking a swipe at Romney, he said the former Massachusetts governor should have talked more about his success during the campaign. "They were on the defensive instead of taking that offensive."

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