Skip to main content

The Brief: Aug. 26, 2011

Rick Perry's swipe at Mitt Romney on Thursday revealed the careful line both candidates will have to walk on health care reform.

House Speaker Joe Straus, left, Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst at a post-session press conference on May 31, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

Rick Perry's swipe at Mitt Romney on Thursday revealed the careful line both candidates will have to walk on health care reform.

In his first national radio interview since announcing his candidacy, Perry issued his strongest criticism yet of the health care plan Romney implemented while governor of Massachusetts.

"Mitt is finally recognizing that the Massachusetts health care plan that he passed is a huge problem for him," Perry told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. "And yeah, it was not almost perfect. I truly believe that you have to have the free market in play with our health care. I think 'Obamacare,' which was modeled after the Massachusetts plan, is an absolute debacle."

But Perry, a states' rights champion, may not have a clear line of attack against Romney on the Massachusetts plan, which is said to have partly served as a template for federal health care reform — and, many have thought, could prove fatal for Romney in a Republican primary. As the Boston Globe notes, Perry wrote in his Washington-bashing book Fed Up! that Massachusetts should be free to experiment with its own health care system. “If federalism is respected," he writes, "the people of Massachusetts are free to try it while the rest of the nation sits back and watches to see if they have any success, and whether any success they do have is worth the price of liberty to get it.’’

Perry told Ingraham the same, calling himself "a big believer that the answer to our health care issues in this country can be found in the states."

Though the Perry campaign recently attempted to walk back some of the governor's views as laid out in Fed Up! (a spokesman for the governor called it a "review and critique of 50 years of federal excesses, not in any way as a 2012 campaign blueprint or manifesto"), the book and Perry's allusions to the 10th Amendment may force him to steer the conversation away from health care and back to jobs — where debate has lingered so far and is likely to stay. 

As Steve Lombardo, a former Romney campaign adviser, tells the Globe, "The perils of health care may have been overstated for Romney."


  • Though Gov. Rick Perry may tout Texas' private-sector job growth, the San Antonio Express-News reports that federal, state and local government job growth in Texas  has grown at almost twice the rate of private-sector job growth since Perry took office. The Tribune's Jay Root also reports that Perry's self-described history as an antitax conservative is more nuanced than the picture he paints on the campaign trail.
  • Former New York Gov. George Pataki won't run for president, CNN has learned. Pataki stirred speculation that he was considering a late entry after announcing earlier this week that he'd be attending a Republican event in Iowa on Saturday. A moderate Republican who won three terms in New York, Pataki would have likely vied for the same voters as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
  • At a high-profile University of Texas System Board of Regents meeting on Thursday, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa won unanimous approval for a wide-ranging plan to address the controversy over productivity and accountability that has roiled the Texas higher education community this year. The plan, which included a $243.6 million investment, also included good news for those hoping to see medical schools in Austin's or South Texas' future.

“Everything is on the table." — U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, to The Dallas Morning News on ways in which the key joint congressional committee that he co-chairs may look to cut the deficit


Texans need truth. Help us report it.

Yes, I'll donate today

Explore related story topics