Bobby Jindal: Scott Walker Too ‘Intimidated’ To Debate Healthcare Plan

AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley
AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

Bobby Jindal says his 2016 presidential campaign rival Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker might be too “intimidated” to defend his healthcare plan against Jindal’s criticisms on the same stage.

Jindal using the word “intimidated” to describe Walker is meant to cut into Walker’s campaign messaging, where he frequently argues his battles with labor unions in Wisconsin prove he is “unintimidated” as a leader. Walker’s book title is “Unintimidated,” and that’s also the title of the pro-Walker Super PAC.

“That’s obviously up to him,” the Louisiana Governor said when asked by Breitbart News in the question-and-answer session of the call what he thinks of Walker continuing to refuse to appear on stage with him to defend his new healthcare policy.

I’m happy to talk to anybody anywhere to defend my ideas. This is an audition to become commander-in-chief, this is the most important job in terms of wrecking the future of our country. We’re at a critical point in our nation’s history. Every politician will tell you the next election is the most important one—this one really is. The idea of America in front of us is slipping away. Just think about what we’ve seen in the last seven years—Planned Parenthood is using our tax dollars to dismember babies and sell organs across the country, $18 trillion in debt, a president who’s declared war on trans fat and a truce with Iran who’s on the verge of becoming a nuclear power, our president won’t stand with Israel, our country won’t secure our southern border, we’ve got the Supreme Court trying to redefine marriage and the reality is this: These are important times.

Jindal went on to say that Walker seems to be either scared to defend his position, or not ready for primetime for a debate with Jindal.

“I’m more than happy to debate anyone, anywhere, any time, and on this issue his team has tried to respond to some of our thoughts on healthcare,” Jindal said.

Just to cut to the chase, I’m more than happy to debate with him or anybody else. This is an important issue and I hope that every candidate—I do want to applaud him for offering a plan even though I disagree with it, I think every candidate should offer their ideas not just on Obamacare but other issues. We’ve offered detailed plans on energy, on defense, on education. That’s one of the reasons I think I’m uniquely positioned. I have the backbone, the experience, and the bandwidth to get this job done. I can’t speak for Scott, maybe he’s intimidated, maybe he’s not ready to debate, but we are.

Earlier in the press call, Jindal explained why he believes that Walker’s plan is a tax increase.

“Absolutely, well a couple of things. First of all, they don’t tell us how they’re going to pay for all of it so obviously I think it’s going to add to the debt and deficit,” Jindal said when Breitbart News asked him why—as a campaign graphic he released argues—Walker’s plan raises taxes.

Second point, if you actually look at the details, and this is an important point—some Republicans have fallen into this trap—what Walker’s plan does is give a refundable tax credit, gives a refundable tax credit and makes every American potentially eligible for a government subsidy for their healthcare and so they pay for that by capping—one thing, their numbers don’t add up, and they don’t provide enough detail—but one way they try to pay for some of that is to cap the extension that people get currently for their healthcare coverage. But what they’re doing is giving people more money than they pay to the government via a refundable tax credit. That’s not a tax credit, that’s government spending.

Jindal compared Walker’s plan for healthcare to Obamacare.

“Just think about this fundamental premise: One of the things we criticized President Obama for is he raised taxes and he redistributed money from, all he wanted to do was redistribute money—he didn’t want to grow the economy,” Jindal said.

Well that is the core of the Walker healthcare plan: It is raising taxes by cutting people’s, capping people’s employer-provided exclusion in terms of their current tax status, and then it is giving some of that money back in terms of a refundable tax credit above and beyond people’s actual tax liability. That has become a clever way for people in D.C. to hide welfare spending and tax credits should only be used in a tailored way or to replace entitlement programs, but one this is a tax increase—and that doesn’t even get to how this doesn’t even cover the full cost.

One analyst says the full cost will be a trillion dollars—and so one, you’ve got that concern: Raising taxes to give money back to people who may not have any tax liability. And secondly the bigger concern is instead of talking about how to get rid of or reform existing entitlements—like getting rid of Obamacare or reforming existing entitlements—instead they’re creating a brand new entitlement. I just don’t think as conservatives we should be trying to outbid the Democrats. If this election becomes about who’s willing to give away more free stuff, the other side wins.

And let’s be honest—it’s not free stuff. We can pretend like we’re paying money, but we’re borrowing it from China and stealing from our children and grandchildren. So, for those two reasons, you’re taking away the tax-exempt status from employer-provided health carriers, capping it and reducing it, and giving government money to folks who don’t have tax liability—and secondly it doesn’t fully detail how they’ll pay for the whole thing, and again one estimate is a trillion dollars, so it looks to me the most likely solutions are tax increases and debt.

When a Washington Examiner reporter asked Jindal about previous statements he’s made in favor of some tax credits, Jindal laid out how what Walker wants is substantially different from what he supports.

“I’m not saying tax credits are never a good idea,” Jindal said.

When they are used in a narrow, tailored way or when they are used to reform an existing program—for example if this program is we’re going to take Medicaid, and turn it into a program of tax credits to help people buy their healthcare, that’s very different from saying as the Walker plan does that we’re going to give tax credits to potentially every American. Remember, that’s breathtaking in its scope. Every American from birth to death could have the government paying for their healthcare under this plan—so from cradle to grave you could have the federal government paying for every American’s healthcare.

At that point, Jindal again compared Walker’s plan to Obamacare—and questioned why the Wisconsin governor is unwilling to debate him one-on-one to defend his healthcare plan:

This isn’t saying that tax credits can never be used or are never a good thing, but it’s saying creating a new entitlement program when we are $18 trillion in debt and then saying that we’re going to have the government pay for coverage and we’re going to have the government pay for coverage of potentially every American, this is what President Obama defines as success in healthcare reform. That’s not what conservatives define as success.

We define as success reducing the cost of healthcare, making healthcare affordable—and that’s why I think it’s a mistake. Hey look, I’ve been—I know the Walker team has said some things about my approach. I’m more than happy to debate Scott any time, any where about healthcare. I offered to do it—I’m happy to do it any place, any time and contrast our approaches. My plan which came out over a year ago involves a standard tax deduction, it involves very targeted help to help those who are truly vulnerable, and its real focus is on reducing cost and making healthcare affordable.

If we concede the premise, if we say to President Obama and the Democrats ‘ok, you guys are right, the way we’re going to judge success is we’re going to have a new entitlement program, redistribute, we’re going to raise taxes, and we’re going to judge success by how many people get insurance cards whether they have real access or not,’ then we’ve lost. That’s what the Walker plan does—it’s fighting on the Democrats’ terms. We got to stop doing that as a party, and Obamacare is one example of that but unfortunately we’ve got leaders in D.C. who do that across the board.

Over the course of several hours on Friday afternoon, at least four Walker aides refused to answer yes or no whether Walker was “intimidated” by Jindal’s challenge. They also repeatedly refused to answer whether Walker would in fact appear opposite Jindal on a stage to defend his healthcare plan in the face of Jindal’s criticisms, and eventually provided Breitbart News with a statement from spokeswoman AshLee Strong—a statement identical to one they provided in response to the first line of attack from Jindal on this exact topic several days ago. At that point, Jindal had called Walker’s plan “Obamacare-lite.”

“Governor Walker’s plan is getting rave reviews from the conservative movement for being a thoughtful, substantive, and viable plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare and make health care affordable and accessible for Americans,” Strong said—again the exact same quote she gave earlier in the week. “The refundable health care tax credits the governor includes have been supported by many conservatives because they put health care decision making in the hands of the American people where it belongs.”

When Breitbart News noted the oddity of Walker’s team not providing a new quote in response to Jindal’s new quotes–providing the exact same quote Breitbart News previously printed–Walker’s team still wouldn’t provide a new quote. But they did share an interview the governor gave to Fox’s Greta Van Susteren from the night before in which Walker deflected a question from the Fox anchor about whether he’d debate Jindal on healthcare policy.

“I think in the end I’m going to debate people who are on the panel with me at the next debate,” Walker said when Van Susteren asked him if he’d defend his healthcare plan by debating Jindal.

If he makes the cuts or anybody else does, I will be debating them how they mix it up. Whether they mix it up or do it by the top ten. I’m ready to talk about this with the American people. I’m looking not to pick fights with one candidate or the other. I’m looking to go out and talk to the American people. I’m not intimidated by anything. The best debate I would love to have is with Hillary Clinton on this. Hillary Clinton was for this kind of plan before Barack Obama even pushed Obamacare. In 1993, the early 1990s, she was pushing Hillary Clinton—she talked about the government mandate in primary election. She would make this even worse.

When asked if Walker saying on that show that he’s “not intimidated by anything” meant that he would accept Jindal’s challenge rather than cower away from it, Walker’s team of press consultants again refused to answer.


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