Texas joined the union in 1845, but for 10 years before that it was an independent country. Some Texans want to return to those good old days when the Republic of Texas didn’t have to answer to Washington. In April 2009 Texas Gov. Rick Perry told a Tea Party rally that he was tired of the federal government’s fiscal policies and its meddling in Texas affairs. If things didn’t change, he made clear, Texas might secede from the union. It had happened once before when Texas joined the Confederate States of America March 2, 1861.
Perhaps intoxicated by his own words, Perry in 2009 rejected $500 million in federal economic stimulus money. But he soon had second thoughts and took a $17 billion stimulus package for his state.
Now, Texas has requested $830 million from a federal program meant to support education. But Perry and other Republicans want to place their own conditions on use of the money. Instead of directly funding schools, they want to add it to the state budget to overcome a massive deficit. Schools would get a share of whatever the legislature and governor decided to dole out. At first the Obama administration resisted this scheme. But earlier this month they let the Texans have their way as a concession to win Republican support for the bill that kept the federal government from closing down.
The picture all of this paints of Perry and his secessionist compatriots is one of hypocrisy and manipulation. They disdain the federal government but they sure love the money coming in. .
The hypocrisy continued this week when Gov. Perry blasted President Obama and whined about the government's slow response to his request for federal disaster aid for Texas. Perry asked for help two weeks ago when wild fires were scorching large areas of his state. In contrast, Alabama was declared a disaster area and received a commitment of aid along with a presidential visit just two days after devastating tornadoes killed more than 400 people.
Clearly, the administration isn't holding up federal assistance to the people of Texas to make a political point. But the deliberate pace of the government response may nonetheless serve as a small reminder to Gov. Perry that careless talk of insurrection is irresponsible and may have consequences.
By the way, when the secessionist notion first came up, actor Chuck Norris said he might like to run for president of the new country of Texas.
Originally posted on LaughingStockNation April 29, 2011