ST. CHARLES, Missouri — Last week, Texas Governor Rick Perry took an uncharacteristically independent stance, bashing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’s plan to force a government shut down over Obamacare funding as “nonsensical.”
But this Saturday, Perry was singing a different tune: “Defund it,” the Governor told ThinkProgress.
When asked by ABC News earlier this week whether the shutdown showdown was a smart move, Perry had said “I don’t think it’s a good option.” Rather, the Governor argued, “there’s still time to sit down and try to fix Obamacare.” Amend, not defund.
On Saturday, Perry told ThinkProgress that “you in the media” were taking him out of context. He claimed his comments to ABC merely amounted to opposition to a shutdown. “I don’t think anyone thinks the shutting down of the government was a good option,” he explained, a paraphrase inconsistent with the transcript of his ABC comments.
Perry went on to express support for fully defunding Obamacare, arguing that Obama and Reid have taken repairing Obamacare off the table by refusing to negotiate with Republicans over the shutdown crisis:
I thought there was an opportunity ten days ago to maybe come together and ‘fix,’ I think was the word I used…the President and Harry Reid clearly took that off the table this last week when they said ‘we’re not going to talk about it. It’s our way or the highway.’ Well, I’m like a lot of other people who, ‘you’ll negotiate with the leader of Iran, but you won’t even sit down with Republicans in the House and the Senate to try to find a reasonable middle ground on this? So yeah, I think we ought to defund Obamacare.
Perry’s pretext for his flip doesn’t work. Obama has been saying for years that he won’t negotiate over the debt ceiling despite being willing to negotiate on broader fiscal issues, so Obama’s reticence to negotiate while Republicans are taking hostages that could hurt the U.S. economy isn’t new. At least one Republican in Congress, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), agreed with last week’s Perry that the crusade to defund Obamacare is making it harder to pursue the kind of “fix” Perry originally wanted.
Moreover, there are some fairly obvious differences between Obama’s recent attempt to open up negotiations with Iran and Republicans threatening to crash the economy unless Obama gives up on his signature legislation.
Regardless of the reason, Perry getting on the “defund!” train is more evidence of Cruz and his faction’s influence inside the Republican Party. “[Sen. Cruz] played a huge role,” in the House leadership picking shutdown fight in the past few days that it originally didn’t want, according to Rep. John Fleming (R-LA). “He’s been the rallying force.”