MADISON – Tommy Thompson, the former Bush administration cabinet secretary who recently went to work for a hedge fund, will travel back to Madison on Thursday to give a speech on “efficient business practices”amid much reports that Republican Party leaders in Washington are encouraging him to challenge Terrence Wall and Dave Westlake in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate.
“Many conservatives are saying that Thompson’s time has passed, and while we welcome his support for health care reform, the tea party crowd and Republican primary voters won’t,” said Mike Tate, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “So the question is not ‘Will he run?’ The question is if he runs, ‘How will he face what he is likely to run into?’”
Tommy Thompson’s “Efficient Business Practices”
Thompson has spent the last five years as a Washington D.C. insider who has made millions of dollars working on behalf of wealthy special interests, including health insurance and pharmaceutical companies and the finance industry.
As a cabinet member for the Bush administration, Thompson led the effort on a Medicare expansion that boosted insurance and pharmaceutical company profits, increased the debt, and left many Wisconsin seniors without prescription drug coverage.
As Wisconsin Governor, Thompson expanded the size of government and left the state with budget deficits. According tonews reports, “figures show that debt rose the most - by $1.8 billion- under Thompson between 1996 and 2001” and statespending doubled in the 1990’s when Thompson was governor. Conservative Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Columnist Patrick McIlheran, in a 2006 column, even credited Thompson as being responsible for the “birth” of the states “structural deficit.”
According to a 2009 report, instead of putting Wisconsin on a path toward fiscal stability when the economy was in better shape, Thompson left lawmakers, Governors McCallum and Doyle, as well as taxpayers, unprepared to confront a financial crisis when he left in 2001 to join the Bush Administration. In fact, “officials had just $49 set aside to cushion the state budget in hard times.