Yes, Tommy Thompson backed ObamaCare
Potential Wisconsin Senate candidate Tommy Thompson, a former governor of the state and secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, isn’t happy about the portrayal of his record by the Club for Growth.
Last week, the Club for Growth slammed Thompson, calling him a “big-government pro-tax Republican whose time has come and gone.” They also launched a web ad featuring President Barack Obama noting Thompson’s support of his health care “reform” proposal:
Thompson called into a Milwaukee radio station - apparently without advance notice - in an effort to set the record straight:
In a clear effort to answer growing gripes from the right, the former Health and Human Services Secretary also said he never supported President Obama’s health care plan and pointed to 150 speeches he’s delivered speaking against the law.
During the impromptu call, which even the WTMJ host admitted had caught him off guard, Thompson also branded the Club for Growth “liars” for distorting his record.
The Club has taken the most forceful stand against Thompson’s likely candidacy, releasing a web video last week that accused the former four-term governor of being a “champion of Obamacare.”
“He clearly understands that’s his number one issue problem in making himself a credible candidate,” said host Charlie Sykes following the call.
Well, there is appears to be a problem. Thompson did indeed support ObamaCare. For context on the Club’s video, you can watch President Obama’s weekly address from October 10, 2009, but here is the relevant part of the transcript:
[W]hat’s remarkable is not that we’ve had a spirited debate about health insurance reform, but the unprecedented consensus that has come together behind it. This consensus encompasses everyone from doctors and nurses to hospitals and drug manufacturers.
And earlier this week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out in support of reform, joining two former Republican Senate Majority Leaders: Bob Dole and Dr. Bill Frist, himself a cardiac surgeon. Dr. Louis Sullivan, Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush, supports reform. As does Republican Tommy Thompson, a former Wisconsin governor and Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush. These distinguished leaders understand that health insurance reform isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but an American issue that demands a solution.
So why did Obama include Thompson, who also lobbied for the multi-trillion dollar expansion of Medicare in 2003 while serving in the Bush Administration, in his list of Republican supporters? It’s because Thompson joined Dick Gephardt, a former Democratic House Majority Leader, in endorsing ObamaCare in The New York Times on October 5, 2009:
The bill that the Senate Finance Committee will vote out for consideration by the full Senate this week is another important step toward achieving the goal of health care reform this year. It moves us down the path of providing affordable high-quality health care for all and expanding coverage for millions.
Failure to reach an agreement on health reform this year is not an acceptable option. Inaction will only increase the burden of rapidly rising health care costs and care denied for millions of American families. Inaction will increase the crushing burden of rising health costs on American businesses that are struggling to create jobs and lead America’s economic recovery. It is time for action.
The endorsement was noted the same day by Politico:
Surprising statement just out from Tommy Thompson, the Bush administration HHS secretary and former Wisconsin governor, and former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.). Now that’s bipartisanship.
Key line: “Failure to reach an agreement on health reform this year is not an acceptable option.”
Not only that, but David Freddoso recently noted that Thompson offered ideas in June of last year to aid Kathleen Sebelius, current secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, in implementing ObamaCare.
So tell me again, who is lying here?