Gov. Rick Perry

Perry critical of latest Obamacare deadline extension

Gov. Rick Perry is taking the Obama administration to task, after the White House announced yet another Affordable Care Act deadline extension. The open enrollment deadline is Friday. This latest extension gives customers who have already started the enrollment process more time to finish it.

There have already been several Obamacare deadline extensions. Notably, the Obama administration took similar action in late last year, when they relaxed the deadline to secure coverage by Jan. 1. “As was the case for the December deadline, we’re going to want to make sure that people who are already in line can finish their enrollment,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

Republicans already highly critical of the president’s health care plan are pointing to this latest extension as another failure for the Obama administration. In a statement, Gov. Rick Perry said:

“Whether it’s deadlines or red lines, it’s clear we can’t trust President Obama to back up what he says, from adhering to his own disastrous health care policy to standing up to those who threaten democracy and freedom in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Crimea and elsewhere around the world.

In every policy decision he makes we see a feckless, meandering and muddled strategy that ultimately leaves the administration, and increasingly the United States, embarrassed by the lack of conviction and discipline we expect and deserve from the leader of the free world.”

Capital Tonight: New poll numbers redefine statewide races

A recent poll is shedding new light on the 2014 elections. Attorney General Greg Abbott led Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis by eleven points in a new UT Austin/Texas Tribune poll. However, timing likely distorted that margin, as the poll was conducted after Sen. Davis’ biography was called into question and before Abbott campaigned with the controversial Ted Nugent.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we dug deeper into the poll numbers and took a closer look at the 2016 presidential race, which could include Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Rick Perry on the Republican side.

BEHIND THE NUMBERS

James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project, provided perspective on how various factors impacted the poll numbers of the GOP primary races and the governor’s race.

FUNDRAISING NUMBERS

Harvey Kronberg gave his analysis of how the latest fundraising totals will influence the nearing GOP primary races and the governor’s race.

 

Outgoing Secretary of State to serve on Higher Education Coordinating Board

Gov. Rick Perry appointed John Steen Jr. to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Friday. Steen’s term will start next week and he will serve until Aug., 2019.

The Higher Education Coordinating Board works with the Legislature and higher education leaders to increase college graduation rates and to keep college affordable. The board meets in Austin four times a year. 

Steen announced last month that he would step down from his post as Secretary of State after serving one year in that position. He said he planned to return to his private law practice in San Antonio. He is being replaced by Houston attorney Nandita Berry.

 

Perry blasts Obama over call for Medicaid expansion

Gov. Rick Perry had some harsh words for President Barack Obama Wednesday. Obama traveled to Dallas to promote his landmark health care law and to urge the state to consider expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

According to Obama, doing so would potentially cover more than a million Texans who are currently uninsured.

“One of the things that gets me a little frustrated,” Obama said, “are folks who are complaining about how the website’s not working, and why isn’t Obama fixing it. And yet they’re leaving more than a million people right now without health insurance that they could immediately fix.”

Gov. Perry has maintained that Texas will not expand Medicaid under Obamacare. Instead, he requested a federal block grant that would allow Texas to make changes to the program without having to follow federal guidelines. Gov. Perry did not mince words in his response to the President’s request, saying:

“President Obama deceived the American people by promising that anyone who liked their health care plan could keep it, but millions of Americans are now discovering that simply isn’t true. Now, he’s coming to Texas in a desperate attempt to salvage his ill-conceived and unpopular program from a Titanic fate by preaching expansion of the same Medicaid system he himself admits is broken. In Texas, where Medicaid already consumes a quarter of the state budget, we simply need the flexibility to implement fundamental, state-specific reforms to our Medicaid program, instead of a one-size-fits-all Washington mandate, before it bankrupts our state. Mr. President, Texans aren’t the reason Obamacare is crumbling; Obamacare is the reason Obamacare is crumbling.”

Texas is one of 21 states that declined to expand Medicaid as part of Obamacare. There were several bipartisan attempts last legislative session to come up with a Texas-specific version of expansion. None of those bills gained enough support to move forward.

Reaction mixed over abortion ruling

The political reaction was quick to today’s court ruling that parts of the state’s abortion law are unconsitutional.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry indicated the abortion debate does not end with Monday’s decision.

“Today’s decision will not stop our ongoing efforts to protect life and ensure the women of our state aren’t exposed to any more of the abortion-mill horror stories that have made headlines recently,” the governor said in a press release. “We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly-elected officials of our state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texans.”

Democratic State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio also issued a statement soon after the ruling.

“I’m grateful that a Texas court agreed today that House Bill 2 would have had harmful effects on women’s access to care and affirmed that the Republican-controlled Legislature went too far in its attacks on women” she said. Van de Putte is considering a run for lieutenant governor.

Perry appears in new ads critical of Washington

Gov. Rick Perry will soon be appearing on national news networks, through a newly released ad that criticized Washington, D.C. and touts Texas’ economic policies.

“Washington needs to change, but the President keeps playing politics,” Perry says at the beginning of the 30-second spot. “Conservative governors are reforming taxes and regulations, helping small businesses grow, cutting and balancing budgets. Conservative leadership is putting people back to work, and families are building their futures. We need more of that and less of Washington.”

The ad campaign was launched by Americans for Economic Freedom, which was formed earlier this year as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit. The group’s stated goal is to “promote economic policies at the state level that are conducive to job creation, business development, and economic expansion.”

Gov. Perry, who is the face of the campaign, hasn’t said whether he will run again for the presidential nomination. 

 

Glass makes another bid for governor

The day before Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis’ announcement about a possible run for governor, someone else jumped into the race.

Libertarian candidate Kathie Glass announced she’s running in 2014 during an Austin news conference Wednesday morning at the Driskill Hotel.

Glass ran for governor in 2010, receiving a little more than 2 percent of the vote, to Governor Rick Perry’s 55 percent. Democrat Bill White pulled in 42 percent in that race.

She used the current federal government shutdown as an example of why she’s running again.

“This shutdown is just a glimpse of what might happen when there is a total collapse from Washington, because we know — the voters of Texas know — that Washington is broken,” Glass said. “The two-party system is corrupt and broken. They’ll never fix themselves and they can’t be reformed from within.”

Attorney General Greg Abbott and former Texas Worforce Commission Chairman Tom Pauken are among the Republican candidates who have already annouced a run for governor.

As was the case in 2010, Glass is campaigning on a platform of limited government.

She said to expect a lot of active, serious Libertarian campaigns for a variety of offices this election cycle.

 

Watson: Perry’s call for navigator requirements twists meaning of bill

Sen. Kirk Watson is pushing back against Gov. Rick Perry’s call for stricter requirements for insurance navigators, saying it distorts the meaning of his original bill and makes it more difficult for Texans to get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

“I authored Senate Bill 1795 to make it easier for Texans to get health insurance, not harder,” Watson said in a statement. “This is a tool to improve our healthcare system, not dismantle it even further.”

The federal government has distributed nearly $11 million to Texas groups to help train so-called navigators to guide people through the enrollment process. Yesterday, Gov. Perry sent a letter to Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber, directing the department to create state-specific rules for navigators. On top of federal requirements that include 20 to 30 hours of training and annual certification tests, Perry wants to require applicants to show proof of citizenship, take an additional 40 hours of coursework, submit to fingerprinting and periodic background checks.

Perry says TDI has the authority to make the changes under Senate Bill 1795, which was authored by Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson, who says the law was never intended to be used in such a way.

“It’s not clear to me that all of the Governor’s instructions are even allowed under this bill or other state or federal law,” Watson said. “He’s twisting the meaning of protecting consumers to fulfill a political agenda. This will hurt Texans who need healthcare far more than it helps him in some GOP primary.”

Maryland next stop on Perry jobs tour

Gov. Rick Perry announced Thursday he will make Maryland the next stop on his “move to Texas” tour. He is planning to visit the state next week. As he has prior to previous trips, Perry launched television and radio ads, touting Texas’ “limited government, low taxes and a fair legal system.”

As in the past, the group Texas One is footing the $500,000 advertising bill and is paying for Perry’s travel expenses.

On Wednesday, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley dismissed Perry’s ads as a “tired old PR gimmick.”

Report: Perry willing to accept $100 million in Affordable Care Act funds

Gov. Rick Perry is negotiating with the Obama administration to accept Affordable Care Act money. As first reported by Politicostate health aides are in negotiations with the Obama administration to work out a deal that would allow the state to collect $100 million of Affordable Care Act money.

The federal funds would come from Community First Choice option, which is aimed at improving in-home services for disabled and elderly patients. The legislature approved the program this session. Now, according to Politico, Perry is asking the Obama administration to provide matching funds. About 12,000 Texans would benefit from the expansion.

The move comes as a surprise to many, as Gov. Perry has been one of the most outspoken critics of President Obama’s health care overhaul plan. He has repeatedly vowed that the state would not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and has repeatedly called it a “broken system.”

Perry spokesman Josh Havens says Texas has provided these types of services via medicaid waivers for decades. He issued this statement:

“Long before Obamacare was forced on the American people, Texas was implementing policies to provide those with intellectual disabilities more community options to enable them to live more independent lives at a lower cost to taxpayers. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission will continue to move forward with these policies because they are right for our citizens and our state, regardless of whatever funding schemes may be found in Obamacare.”