UPDATED In an interview with ABC News last week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry called the idea of shutting down the government if Obamacare is not defunded “nonsensical” — staking out a position in stark contrast to fellow Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who concluded a more than 21-hour protest speech over that very issue on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
“I don’t think it’s a good option,” Perry told ABC’s Jeff Zeleny when asked whether shuttering the federal government if a resolution to keep the government funded did not also defund President Obama’s signature health care reform law.
But in the interview, for the Yahoo! News “Power Players” video series which was conducted last Thursday before Cruz’s long speech but after the Texas senator had already signaled his willingness to shut down the government over his opposition to funding Obamacare, Perry declined to say whether Cruz was wrong.
“Well, I’m not going to say he’s wrong,” said Perry, who could be a potential 2016 presidential candidate. “I hope they’re working to try to find the solutions to fixing this and working with both sides of the aisle. We do it every day in states, whether it’s Maryland or whether it’s Texas to find solutions to these problems. One thing about governors, they have to perform, they have to deliver, we have timelines, and Washington, they talk a lot.”
Tuesday night, as Cruz was talking, Perry tweeted words of encouragement to the Texas senator.
“I’m proud to see Texans in our nation’s capital standing firm against Obamacare and working to protect our state and our country from this disastrous law,” Perry said in a statement to ABC News on Wednesday. “I hope Washington listens to Sen. Cruz and the growing chorus of Americans who oppose federally mandated health care.”
Here’s a portion of the Q&A between Zeleny and Gov. Perry:
ABC NEWS: “Some Republicans now have the decision in front of them to defund Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act. Or, if not, the government should close down, perhaps temporarily. Do you think that would be a risky move for Republicans? Would it be the same as ’95, ’96 when the government shut down temporarily, or are times different?”
RICK PERRY: “Well, it’s one of the options.”
ABC NEWS: “Is it a good option?”
RICK PERRY: “I don’t think it’s a good option. What I suggest is there’s still time to sit down and try to fix Obamacare. When you have the unions that are now publically against this thing, when you see the number of people that are going to lose jobs, the number of folks that are going to go from full-time to part-time employees because of the implementation of Obamacare, the way that it’s written. When you see this myriad of problems with it, and the fact is that it’s going to cost more money, they’ve publically stated it’s going to cost more money now, and people aren’t going to get to keep their doctor. So, a lot of the premise it was set upon was false. So I there’s still time for Congress to go in an fix it, and when I talk about fixing it, I’m talking about.”
ABC NEWS: “So fix it, not defund it necessarily?”
RICK PERRY: “Putting things into place that can fix Obamacare like health savings accounts, like personal responsibility programs, giving states the flexibility to come up with programs that fit their populations rather than this one size fits all. If Congress could do that, and would do that, then I think it goes towards fixing our healthcare delivery system. On the other side of that is if they can’t do that, why would we want to fund something that we know is going to bankrupt the states? One of the reasons we didn’t participate in expansion of Medicaid is because we’ve run the numbers. This is $18 billion over the next ten years out of the coffers of the state of Texas. A $100 billion in all funds going in over the next 10 years and only a 3 percent reduction in the number of uninsured our state. That’s just not a good exchange. So, if they can’t fix it, why would you want to pay for that? Why would you want that to go forward? The idea that you got to defund government over one program is a bit nonsensical as well.”
ABC NEWS: “So is Senator Cruz wrong?”
RICK PERRY: “Well, I’m not going to say he’s wrong. I hope they’re working to try to find the solutions to fixing this and working with both sides of the aisle. We do it every day in states, whether it’s Maryland or whether it’s Texas to find solutions to these problems. One thing about governors, they have to perform, they have to deliver, we have timelines, and Washington, they talk a lot.”