Tommy Thompson on Government Reform

Former Secretary of H.H.S.; former Republican Governor (WI)

I've never been a lobbyist

In his successful recall effort June, Gov. Scott Walker portrayed public employees as privileged. In the Senate race, Thompson and Baldwin each claim to be the champion of the middle class.

"People are asking the question, 'Who's fighting for us?' versus 'Who's fighting for the big and powerful,'" Baldwin said in an Oct. 2 interview in Milwaukee. "Whose side are you on is a classic question in some elections, and I think it's coming to bear very particularly in this."

[One analyst] said Baldwin is trying to "to recapture the notion that the Democratic candidate is the populist candidate," he said. "She's trying hard to portray Thompson as the tool of the elite."

The Baldwin campaign has labeled Thompson a lobbyist for companies his Health & Human Services agency used to oversee, a charge that Thompson angrily denies. "I've never been a lobbyist," he said in an interview. "That's absolutely a lie." Thompson is working to define Baldwin as a big-spender, calling her "out of the mainstream."

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek on 2012 Wisconsin Senate debate , Oct 5, 2012

I'm a reformer: on welfare, healthcare, & taxes

Thompson said, "As governor I've cut taxes 91 times, reformed welfare [W-2 began in his administration], reformed health care [both Badger Care and SeniorCare began under Thompson, but were continued and enhanced under his successor], helped put Medicare Part D in place, and always tried to do what was right.

"I'm a reformer," Thompson emphasized, "and 742,000 jobs were created while I was governor." He also pointed to the Women's Health Foundation he founded along with his wife and their daughter.

Source: Madison Agri-View on 2012 Wisconsin Senate debates , Oct 4, 2012

Allow voter ID by repealing Help America Vote Act

Question 5. Would you support repealing portions of the Help America Vote Act that interfere with individual states' rights to maintain the integrity of their voter identification and registration procedures?

Mark Neumann: Yes

Tommy Thompson: Yes

Source: 2012 Wisconsin Tea Party Senate Debate Questionnaire , Aug 13, 2012

Cheney is honorable individual; doesn’t have too much power

Q: You served in the Cabinet with Vice President Cheney. Do you think that Vice President Cheney has too much power?

A: I believe that Vice President Cheney is criticized for a lot of things that he doesn’t do. I believe that Dick Cheney is an honorable individual. And I think President Bush depends a great deal upon him.

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate , Aug 5, 2007

Eliminate CDC stockpiles; they’re wasteful & inefficient

Q: [To Gov. Thompson] Tell me three federal programs you consider wasteful and would eliminate.

THOMPSON: There are several programs that need to be cut in Washington, several of those in my former department. I would first make every agency come in with a budget at 95% of last year’s budget and one at 100%. And you will be able to use that exercise in order to reduce budgets all across the line.

Q: I didn’t hear three programs. Can you tell me one?

THOMPSON: The first one I would eliminate is a program in the Department of Health and Human Services in CDC that deals with the stockpile. The stockpile does a great job, but there are some inefficiencies there.

Q: [To Paul] Can you do better than that?

PAUL: I’d start with the departments--the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security. There’s a lot of things that we can cut, but we can’t cut anything until we change our philosophy about what government should do.

Source: 2007 Republican Debate in South Carolina , May 15, 2007

FactCheck: Only improve CDC stockpiles; don’t eliminate them

When pressed to name a single program he would eliminate to rein in federal spending, Thompson offered the CDC stockpile program. A Thompson aide told us later that Thompson was referring to the Strategic National Stockpile program, through which large quantities of medicine and medical supplies are stored for an emergency like 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina. And it turns out, Thompson wouldn’t really eliminate it. The aide said Thompson meant to say he would manage it more efficiently.
Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Republican Debate in South Carolina , May 15, 2007

More regional cooperation; more e-government

    [I see five] catalysts for modernizing our government for a new century.
  1. Create incentives to collaborate. By engaging in regional collaboration for the delivery of services, governments can reap significant savings without sacrificing quality. Do neighboring communities really need separate mass transit systems? Or separate waste collection services?
  2. Demand performance and accountability. Improve harmony and performance by more clearly defining the roles of state and local government.
  3. Performance-based education. Get money directly into the classroom by giving greater operating flexibility to every local school building.
  4. A Top-To-Bottom Scrub of Government. We need to search and destroy regulations and programs that have outlived their usefulness; and establish performance-based management for state government.
  5. Expand e-government. Web portals for all levels of government will make it easier for citizens to access services and reduce the cost of goods the government buys.
Source: 2001 State of the State Address , Jan 31, 2001

Limit individual, corporate, & PAC political contributions

Do you support limiting the following types of contributions to state legislative candidates: Individual?

A: Yes.

Q: PAC contributions?

A: Yes.

Q: Corporate?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you support requiring full and timely disclosure of campaign finance information?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you support imposing spending limits on state level political campaigns?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you support partial funding from state taxes for state level political campaigns?

A: Yes.

Q: Would you support an amendment to the US Constitution requiring an annual balanced federal budget?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you support requiring organizations that sponsor issue advocacy commercials to fully disclose their receipts and expenditures?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you support requiring all out-of-state organizations that give money to Wisconsin candidates to obey WI campaign finance laws?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you support limiting transfers of money between political action committees or campaign committees to $100?

A: Yes.

Source: WI Gubernatorial 1998 National Political Awareness Test , Nov 1, 1998

Common sense over “government sense”

There is a big difference between common sense and what I call “government sense.” For decades now we have seen the federal government gathering more and more power into its grasp. For 50 years we have seen a federal government who thought it could do a better job when it came to running our states, to running our schools, to running our businesses, and to running our personal lives. What has happened in those 50 years? We have seen crime go up, respect for authority go down, more families breaking up, and a government that does not pay its bills. It’s a good thing they have been telling us what to do, right? Perhaps the one good thing to come out of this experiment will be the conviction that it is time to start moving away from government sense back to common sense.

The welfare system is a perfect example of what I refer to as government sense. When you pay people not to work and to have children out of wedlock, guess what happens? People do not work and they have more children out of wedlock.

Source: United We Stand America Conference, p.204-5 , Aug 12, 1995

Supports banning funding of offensive art.

Thompson supports the CC Voters Guide question on offensive art

Christian Coalition publishes a number of special voter educational materials including the Christian Coalition Voter Guides, which provide voters with critical information about where candidates stand on important faith and family issues. The Christian Coalition Voters Guide summarizes candidate stances on the following topic: "Prohibiting public funding for art that is pornographic or anti-religious"

Source: Christian Coalition Voter Guide 12-CC-q4b on Oct 31, 2012

Other candidates on Government Reform: Tommy Thompson on other issues:
WI Gubernatorial:
Scott Walker
WI Senatorial:
Herbert Kohl
John Schiess
Mark Neumann
Ron Johnson
Tammy Baldwin

WI politicians

Retiring as of Jan. 2013:

Senate elections Nov. 2012:
AZ:Flake(R) vs.Carmona(D)
CA:Feinstein(D) vs.Emken(R) vs.Lightfoot(L)
CT:McMahon(R) vs.Murphy(D)
DE:Carper(D) vs.Wade(R) vs.Pires(I)
FL:Nelson(D) vs.Mack(R)
HI:Hirono(D) vs.Lingle(R) vs.Case(D) vs.Pirkowski(R)
IN:Lugar(R) vs.Mourdock(R) vs.Donnelly(D)
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MN:Klobuchar(D) vs.Bills(R)
MO:McCaskill(D) vs.Akin(R)
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VA:Kaine(D) vs.Allen(R)
VT:Sanders(I) vs.MacGovern(R)
WA:Cantwell(D) vs.Baumgartner(R)
WI:Thompson(R) vs.Baldwin(D)
WV:Manchin(D) vs.Raese(R)
WY:Barrasso(R) vs.Chesnut(D)
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Page last updated: Nov 20, 2012