JINDAL TO TURN DOWN STIMULUS AID…. I can only assume this is some kind of bizarre kickoff of the 2012 presidential campaign.

Saying that it could lead to a tax increase on state businesses, Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Friday that the state plans to reject as much as $98 million in federal unemployment assistance in the economic stimulus package.

Jindal, who has emerged as a leading Republican critic of the $787 billion spending and tax-cut bill signed into law this week by President Barack Obama, said the state would accept federal dollars for transportation projects and would not quarrel with a $25-per-week increase in unemployment benefits.

Both of those items are financed entirely with federal dollars and require the state only to accept the money. The part that Jindal rejected would require permanent changes in state law that the governor said makes it unacceptable. […]

But U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., disputed the governor’s interpretation and said the new unemployment benefits are designed to be temporary. “This bill is an emergency measure designed to provide extra help during these extraordinarily tough times,” Landrieu said. “To characterize this provision as a ‘tax increase on Louisiana businesses’ is inaccurate.”

Apparently, Jindal’s position is he’d rather limit unemployed assistance now than worry about a possible tax increase on businesses three years from now.

The Politico reports that Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) “said he, too, would likely decline funds for broadening access to unemployment insurance.” South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) may do the same, but hasn’t “made any decisions on any part of the stimulus yet.”

Ryan Powers explained, “[I]t is not clear why participating in the expanded unemployment insurance program would result in tax increases for business. By Jindal’s own estimate, the recovery package would have funded his state’s unemployment expansion for three years, at which point the state could — if it chose to do so — phase out the program.”

Well, sure, if you’re going to let facts drive the process. But Jindal & Co. aren’t worried about reality — and they’re certainly not worried about the unemployed — when there’s political grandstanding to be done.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.