Texas Gov. Rick Perry has spent much of the past three years loudly and defiantly fighting against what he views as Washington meddling in state affairs, often refusing to cooperate with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and becoming a leader in the battle against President Barack Obama’s health care plan.
Other Republican governors pursuing a similar tactic may want to take note of what’s happened in Texas amid Perry’s hard-fought battle: An obstinate refusal to cooperate has resulted in more, not less, federal oversight.
“We’re very conservative and we’re very stubborn,” said Bill Miller, a lobbyist in Austin for HillCo who has represented both Republicans and Democrats. He described the Texas mindset this way: “We’re not going to be smart. We’re going to be pure. It’s a point of pride and if there’s something else we’re proud of, it’s our pride.”
One area where Texas has fought ferociously with the feds has been on environmental regulations. Yet as the state challenged EPA rules in court over the past three years, the federal agency simply side-stepped the state to work directly with industry.
A similar scenario is playing out with Obama’s health care overhaul in Texas, where nearly a quarter of the population, or 6.2 million people, are uninsured. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has given the law the green light, it’s highly likely that Texas won’t have time to build a key program, forcing the federal government to design and manage it until the Lone Star State steps up.