The idea of a Medicaid expansion brought top Texas Democratic and Republican Party leaders together at the state capitol Monday. They did not meet face to face. There was certainly no compromise. All the talk may be a glimpse into how both sides could use the issue to rally their political base for a 2014 election campaign.
The Big three of the Texas GOP, Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Senators. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, met with fellow Lone-Star Republicans in a capitol conference room. While they were all smiles, on the other side of the closed door, another group was involved in a vocal protest. They marched with signs portraying the three Republicans as three Stooges for refusing to expand Medicaid. Extra security keeps them out of the meeting but not their voices.
The political humor of the moment was not lost on the republicans who reaffirmed their political position.
"Seems to me an appropriate an Aprils Fools Day event, makes it perfect to discussion something as foolish as Medicaid expansion," said Governor Rick Perry.
The GOP leadership scoffed at the promise that adding a million people to the health care program - would not bust the state budget.
"The federal government is going to go broke, and keep shoving more and more of the cost down on the state, and once they expand the Medicaid population and the federal government retreats, then the state is going to be on the hook," said U.S. Senator John Cornyn.
Freshman Senator, Ted Cruz, described the expansion idea in a harsh way.
"The federal government is much like an unscrupulous individual trying to convince a Junior High kids to start smoking, they start by giving a few cigarettes and say just try it, and there's a bait and switch that's coming," said U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.
While the Republicans refused to change their tune, the protestors eventually did just that. About an hour later- they sat quietly as several new faces of the Texas Democratic Party leadership spoke up.
"We believe that expanding Medicaid is not only the moral thing to do, but it's also economically the right thing to do," said Congressman Castro.
U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro and his brother San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro took center stage.
"As elected officials, the public hires us not to do the ideological thing but to do the smart thing," said Mayor Castro.
To spur on that kind of thinking state Representative Trey Martinez Fischer suggested a familiar political maneuver.
"We are more than half way through the legislative session, and I think it's time with your help we start applying the pressure and start reminding people in this capitol we have a very strong senate Delegation of Democrats that should start reviewing legislation and putting he breaks on things until our priorities are addressed." said the Democrat from San Antonio.
Rep. Martinez-Fischer refused to say the word, filibuster, but the tactic could provide motivation for a compromise. The passage of GOP legislation like Charter Schools and guns in schools could be jeopardized. It could also force the need for a costly special session.
Congressman Lloyd Doggett said it's possible to break the Medicaid expansion impasse with the GOP, but with another election cycle about to kick into gear -- it's more likely the issue will become a debate topic on the campaign trail.