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Piyush In The Budget Choke Hold

Governor David Vitter.

Sound good to you?

We thought not. Last week, however, we personally tasted our first Vitter-tinged teabagging as citizens under the rule of what could very possibly be the State’s next Governor. The Vitter-Kennedy tea-tard alliance gummed up the State House so badly that Gov. Jindal’s kabuki thuggery couldn’t put humpty back together again.

Jindal, in the end, is simply a privatizer, not a small-government advocate. He doesn’t want to make “government” smaller, he just wants the money to go to private corporations owned by his friends. If you actually shrink government, those guys might get less money! Aghast. That’s what the one-time money fight is all about. Jindal wants to keep the revenue veins open for his corporate vulture buddies. Vitter just wants to kill the patient dead. Oh yeah, and the patient is regular Louisianians struggling with one of the nation’s poorest, least healthy, and worst-educated states. But we digress.

Back to our story: So, Vitter had been warning Jindal over the use of “one-time” (sweeping revenues from other purposes to pay for Government operations) money in the State budget for weeks. Even as Vitter endorsed Jindal last year, Vitter made it clear that he was coming for Jindal. It was one of those tongue-in-cheek endorsements, sort of like this:

Here, Godfather of right-wing tea-bagging David Vitter kisses his brother-in-arms, signaling his brother’s death.

Vitter’s allies in the legislature aren’t quite willing to cop to the game, lest they lose what independent balls they have left. Yet, it is undeniably the work of a dark-master of strategy:

Denials aside, Vitter has been peppering House members with emails and phone calls asking them to oppose Jindal on this issue.

For instance, last week Vitter emailed some representatives: “I think it’s crucial that we take the tough, but important, fiscal stand to end the use of ‘one-time’ money to balance the state budget … Please stand tall — and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with like-minded colleagues and the great majority of Louisianians.”

Vitter, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004 after serving in the Louisiana House for 12 years, also emailed constituents suggesting they contact their legislators and voice their “rejection of the tired and wasteful ways of the good ’ol boys who used to run things in Louisiana.”Of course, legislators receive all manner of communications from constituents exhorting the representatives to stand this way or that on various issues. But few correspondences have much impact among the House majority, if the way they’re urging differ from what Jindal’s aides say.

Jindal’s own political apparatus apparently spends its quality time with reporters attacking David Vitter, off the record of course:

About 30 minutes after the request Thursday to interview Vitter, his press secretary released a prepared statement that acknowledged the U.S. senator was “reaching out to legislators” and quoted the senator congratulating House conservatives “for standing tall” when they refused to accept “one time” money in the budget.

Timmy Teepell, Jindal’s political adviser, said, “Sen. Vitter and the U.S. Senate have not passed a budget in almost three years. Until they do, he should probably spend his time focused on that.”

Both Ivy League-educated officials repeatedly profess love and admiration for the other. But both Jindal and Vitter practice scorched-earth politics, and their aides in casual conversation are quick to belittle the other big elephant in the house — all off the record, of course.

The strongest will survive, so let’s see them rumble! Of course, Timmy Teepell is home-schooled, so he doesn’t know anything about natural selection. But he does know the Governor’s politics fairly well. And we would venture to guess that’s not the toughest thing he says about the Sinator behind closed doors.

Vitter’s not-so-silent partner in all of this is Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy. As many would acknowledge, Kennedy is held in high esteem around Baton Rouge by the business crowd at the Camelot club, and his dark alliance with Vitter only works in Kennedy’s favor overall.

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