Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal reminded the audience at CPAC on Friday that he's not Paul Ryan. Though he didn't mention the Wisconsin congressman by name, Jindal told the crowd that Republicans need to end their "obsession" with the number of zeroes in the budget of the federal government and focus on economic growth in the private sector.
When talking so much about the federal budget, Jindal said, "we send a message that the focus of our country is the phony economy in Washington."
In what might have been an oblique reference to a potential rival for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination, Jindal added that "conservative number crunching is not the answer to our country's problems." Congressman Ryan, as Chairman of the House Budget Committee and the Republican Party's 2012 Vice-Presidential nominee, is probably the most famous conservative number cruncher in the country.
Jindal contrasted what happens at the state level with what happens in Washington, claiming, "Nothing serious is deemed serious in Washington, D.C."
"If Washington's debt is going forward, the nation is going backward." Instead, Jindal said, the federal government should consider one option of shipping out more money to the states. "If it's worth doing, block grant it to the states. If you don't trust the states to do it, maybe you shouldn't be doing it at all."
Jindal noted that while "we need folks in Washington devoted to stopping the President's agenda," it is most important that "as conservatives we must dedicate our efforts to growth."
"Balancing our government's books is not what matters most," he told the CPAC crowd. "Our objective is to grow the private economy."
Jindal warned, "We [Republicans] must not become the party of austerity. We must become the party of growth. We must not continue to fight on our opponent's terms. We have fallen into the trap of believing the world revolves around Washington."
"Who wants to sign up to manage the slow decline of the United States?" he asked the audience. "I certainly don't."
"That's what we've got Democrats for. The only thing they offer more of is government. Republicans need to be the party that grows the real economy," Jindal said.
According to Jindal, "we've got to recalibrate the compass of conservatism." Other than increasing the number of block grants sent to the states, he offered only one specific adjustment: simplification of the tax code.
"We should stand for radically simplyfing our tax code, but not for the benefit of Washington, but to get Washington out of the way," he said. "Let's get rid of those loopholes paid for by the lobbyists."
Jindal concluded by saying that "we can either go down the government path or the American path. The left is trying to turn the government path into the American path. Shame on us if we let them do that."