I feel the need to say the following as a Texan and an American. As the government shutdown continues, it is clear who is to blame. It is the GOP. Yet Wendy Davis, when asked about the shutdown, would not take sides.
This is very disheartening on several fronts.
First, the government shutdown affects Texas, as it does every state. It is important to address these issues, and I expect that from our Democratic statewide candidates. That is especially true of our candidate running for governor, who will be leading our state and dealing with the federal government.
Second, regarding Senator Davis’ assertion that the parties have done a better job of working together in Texas, here have been the results. And they are not pretty.
Our state has refused to accept the Medicaid Expansion, or even discuss it with the federal government. Our state has refused to set up an exchange, leaving that to the federal government. Our state is proposing excessive regulations for the navigators involved. And this is all happening in Texas, the state with the highest uninsured rate in the country.
In addition, as we all know, Texas just passed an extremely restrictive bill that will close the vast majority of abortion clinics in Texas. This was a special session item that was most clearly NOT an example of working together.
With respect to transportation, our legislature added $1 billion on transportation when TxDOT needs $ 4 billion. We are not adequately funding our infrastructure. There is a complete refusal to raise revenue. And conservatives and tea partiers are driving this refusal, as they have for many years.
On education, we have seen a net loss of funding over the past 2 legislative cycles.
Third, Senator Davis herself has stood up against GOP excesses, having performed a filibuster in each of the last 2 legislative sessions (2011 and 2013) with respect to education funding and the abortion bill, respectively. I applaud Senator Davis on both filibusters – they were needed to combat bad policy. And on this year’s filibuster, she received support nationwide. Yet in return, to not take a stand on the shutdown is problematic. Many of us were there for her when she stood up on principle. It would be nice to see that support reciprocated in this case.
Finally, let’s look at the shutdown itself. The GOP House refused to enter into conference committee for 6 months to resolve the differences between the House and Senate budgets. And now, they are shutting down the government with the simple goal of defunding the Affordable Care Act. I respectfully ask – why is it so difficult for Senator Davis to support President Obama and Democrats on the shutdown? We have tried to work with the GOP on the budget and have been rebuffed. And now the GOP wants to deny millions, including Texans, health care. There shouldn’t be any neutrality on this. No state needs the Affordable Care Act more than Texas, and this is an opportunity for Senator Davis to show that support that we need. I myself will be enrolling in the exchange and am grateful for President Obama’s efforts in making this a reality.
Here in Texas, we have talked about making inroads in turning out core Democratic constituencies, including African-Americans and Latinos. Well, it is hard to do that if we are not addressing the issues that these constituencies have. Affordable health care is definitely a core issue for our base here in Texas. I hope Senator Davis realizes that such statements can be construed as a lack of willingness to fight on these issues. And distancing yourself from President Obama will not help you with these voters. This is a truth that Bill White found out in the 2010 campaign.
I have worked hard in the past to help get President Obama and other Democrats elected. And I will do so again in 2014 with Wendy Davis. But I have seen a particular movie in Texas too many times. It is a movie where the candidate distances himself or herself from President Obama, thinking it will get them some Republican voters. In the end, however, it does not help them and they lose. And the turnout of core constituencies does not materialize. After all, if they are not seeing support on the issues that matter to them, they are less likely to see the differences between candidates.
I do not want to see a repeat of this movie in 2014. It is time to move into a new era in Texas.