Back in September during The Texas Tribune Festival, Reeve Hamilton posed a question to the three Republican candidates for Attorney General that was, and probably still is, weighing on the minds of voters: Is there a substantive way for the Texas Attorney General to fight ObamaCare, or is it simply campaign rhetoric?

Moderate State Rep. Dan Branch got the first go at answering—and his lengthy answer is wrought with scapegoats, political plugs for his campaign, and blatant irony.

Branch instantly pointed to the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Division as his first “substantive stance” against ObamaCare. Branch referred to ObamaCare as a “monstrosity”…but hey! At least we have a—likely already overwhelmed—state agency we can pour more money into, right?

Branch then pointed to Congress, asserting this is their job, adding, “Obviously we have to uphold the law of the land.” And while he seems to completely rid himself of responsibility until after ObamaCare hits Texans—contrary to his two opponents—he claimed solidarity with Senator Ted Cruz, because he “feels passionately about this issue.”

And, speaking of Sen. Cruz, Branch must be willing to fight ObamaCare because he kept reminding us of the senior advisors from the Cruz campaign on his staff! (Of course the senator himself has come in recent days with great praise and admiration for Ken Paxton…)

Branch’s last few statements are where one finds the most irony, though. On one hand he discussed the possibilities of fraud, identity theft, etc. which may result from ObamaCare Navigators. He stated this threat calls for a “strong role for the attorney general to protect Texans.” However, during the 83rd Legislative Session, Branch voted for the bill that implemented the ObamaCare Navigator “profession” in Texas.

As the interview progressed, Branch stated that if we are seeing an overreaching federal government, the AG will have to stand up for Texans—citing the IRS, DOJ, & NSA as examples—but, one may recall Branch failing to stand up for Texans during the 83rd Session when our state government wanted to try to emulate the actions of the IRS.

He mentioned a need for a strong stance against an overreaching federal government, but he also said we must uphold the law-of-the-land. So if he believes ObamaCare to be the latter, would he even find a reason to stand against it?

State Senator Ken Paxton, who earned an A+ on our 2013 Fiscal Responsibility Index and our endorsement for the 2014 AG race, actually gave substantive answers. Having grown up with a father in the Air Force, he experienced government-run healthcare first-hand, and shared his personal experiences.

Paxton also explained his legislative experience with Medicaid expansion and the ruling from the federal courts that “the states cannot be forced with a stick to expand Medicaid.” He recounted the stand he and several other senators took to fight Medicaid expansion in Texas during the 83rd Session.

When Hamilton jumped in and asked if there is “such a thing as too much fighting the federal government,” Paxton—without hesitation—said, “If we’re talking about constitutional freedoms, and we’re talking about the right of our state to govern itself . . . those are fights worth having.”

And even while Smitherman was eager to take the opportunity to—once again—cite his prosecutorial experience and his involvement in seven lawsuits against the Obama administration, he still seemed to understand the fact that Texans want a leader who will stand up and fight the implementation of ObamaCare.

So this begs the question—does Branch just not understand, does he not care, or is he openly defying what Texans want?

Morgan Williamson

Morgan serves as the Managing Editor for Texas Scorecard—monitoring our media presence, both online and in print. She is a Texas native, Texas State graduate, and veteran staffer of the 83rd Texas Legislature. Aside from a good dose of editing & strategizing, Morgan enjoys proper grammar usage, a lot of coffee, and good company.

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