The Brief: Texas Political News for Nov. 15, 2013

The Big Conversation

President Barack Obama's White House apology ("That's on me") coupled with a new fix for the latest glitch in the rollout of the signature legislative achievement of his presidency has failed to convert skeptics in the Lone Star State.

Quickly out of the gates on Thursday was Gov. Rick Perry, who said Obama's proposal to allow about 5 million people to keep their canceled plans for a year longer would put states out of alignment with the Affordable Care Act.

As The Dallas Morning News' Christy Hoppe reported, Perry said, “This is a staggering display of a reckless president cavalierly instructing states to ignore federal law." It was later reported that Texas' insurance commissioner would take no action but would instead leave the decision on renewing those canceled policies up to the insurance companies.

It wasn't just the usual cast of politicians, though, who were griping about Obama's performance.

Paul Burka of Texas Monthly posted on his blog this morning that Obama "is on the verge of becoming a complete failure as president. His signature initiative is in ruins and for one reason only: sheer incompetence on a massive scale." He then reportedly called Obama a liar at a roundtable political discussion at the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association's annual meeting.

Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg diagnosed the fundamental problem as Obama's inability to trust the American people to tell them what would need to be done for the ACA to work.

"Yet, the president, and his advisers, didn't trust the American people to hear the truth, to hear there would be some kind of sacrifice, some small amount of pain, required for a major health care overhaul. It's inexcusable, though understandable," Falkenberg wrote. "All one has to do is recall the wild eyes and angry words at those health care town halls to remember the passion and fear surrounding this monumental reform."

She added, "Maybe I'm wrong, but I think most of us are willing to sacrifice a little if it means fewer Americans will go bankrupt or even die because of lack of health insurance. What we're not willing to accept are broken promises, half-truths and a wreck of a website that inspires little confidence."

Culled

•    Cruz stays silent as colleague Cornyn talks re-election (Houston Chronicle): "When Texas Sen. John Cornyn launches his campaign for a third six-year term on Friday with a rally in Austin, it will feature a cameo appearance by Gov. Rick Perry - but no sign of tea party-backed freshman Sen. Ted Cruz."

•    The War Within (Politico): "Among the feuds that gave rise to this disastrous turn, the ones that pitted Democrats against Republicans may well be those that tell us the least about our fractious politics. Instead, it was the close-quarters throwdown within the GOP—a fight in the House Republican Conference between the party’s centrists and its vocal Tea Party activists—that illuminates both why the shutdown happened and what it will mean for a Republican Party at war with itself."

•    Texas Republicans draw up articles of impeachment for Attorney General Eric Holder (Houston Chronicle): "Several Texas Republicans are jumping on a contempt of Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder next year, but this time they’re calling for his outright impeachment, alleging his failure to investigate a gun-trafficking scheme into Mexico. Rep. Pete Olson is the prime sponsor of a planned bill to try Holder for 'high crimes and misdemeanors' in the constitution for mismanaging the scandal, during which thousands of sold weapons went missing and a border patrol agent was killed."

•    VA’s malpractice tab: $845 million in 10 years (Austin American-Statesman): "The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid out roughly $845 million in malpractice cases during the past 10 years — a period that has seen the agency face scrutiny for giving bonuses to medical professionals who provided or oversaw substandard care. An investigation by reporters from Cox Media Group, parent company of the American-Statesman, found that taxpayers have paid 4,426 veterans and their family members who brought malpractice claims against the VA medical system since 2003. The payouts reached a high point in 2012 at $98.3 million in awards."

•    Brackenridge could see more cancer patients if ‘Obamacare’ concerns linger (Austin American-Statesman): "The already stressed safety-net cancer treatment facility in Austin could see long wait times for care if private treatment centers cannot resolve their issues with the Affordable Care Act. ... But if Texas Oncology, the largest independent cancer practice in the state, doesn’t join health care networks offered on the federally run insurance marketplace in Texas, then the Shivers Center could struggle to treat an influx of additional patients."

Quote to Note“President Obama did succeed at one thing today: making a bad situation worse with a ‘fix’ that will create more confusion for consumers and threatens to destabilize the health insurance industry.” — Gov. Rick Perry, condemning a new rule put forward by Obama designed to work around the cancellation of health insurance policies that don't meet the new standards under the Affordable Care Act

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