"The federal government is much like an unscrupulous individual trying to convince a junior high kid to start smoking," he said. "They start by giving a few cigarettes and saying, 'Just try it,' and there's a bait and switch that's coming."
Outside the governor's Capitol office where the GOP leaders gathered, about 40 protesters marched in circles, their chants echoing throughout the marble interior. Some carried signs with Perry, Cruz and Cornyn depicted as The Three Stooges, and they alternated between chanting "Health care Now!" ''Let us in!" and "Perry, take the money now!"
Many stayed for the news conference organized by San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and his twin brother and U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro. Both urged Perry to negotiate with federal officials and win the flexibility to allow Texas to accept Medicaid expansion on its own terms.
Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said expansion would provide coverage to about 1 million uninsured adults and 400,000 children in Texas, while boosting the state's economic output by $67 billion in four years and creating an estimated 231,000 jobs by 2016.
"We believe that expanding Medicaid is not only the moral thing to do, but, economically, it is the right thing to do," he said.
State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, head of the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus, said that of 3.6 million uninsured Hispanics in Texas, 58 percent would be covered by Medicaid expansion.
"What we heard this morning is more of the same which is 'no' and 'manana.' Governor, 'No' is not a public policy response," Martinez Fischer said.
He added: "Manana is the busiest day of the week in the Texas Capitol. We never get to it."