# Tommy Thompson

Tommy Thompson speaks the truth on Social Security

I wasn’t a fan of Tommy Thompson as Health and Human Services secretary, and I didn’t think he stood out in the first GOP candidates’ debate. But I feel like defending him after reading Don’s post at Cyclone Conservatives about Thompson’s campaign stop in Le Mars on Thursday.

I always enjoy reading first-person accounts of campaign visits, so I appreciate Don’s efforts. However, I had to laugh when I read this:

Where I strongly disagreed with Thompson is when he talked about social security. He said that social security is not in crisis and that it isn’t headed for bankruptcy and seemed in suggest that anybody that says differently is lying. I actually was pretty unhappy by those comments and he seemed to think that just tweaking the current system would solve it. I couldn’t disagree more. This was the only downside to an otherwise steller event for Tommy.

This reminded me of a moment in Jon Tester’s debate with Senator Conrad Burns last year in Montana. Burns had what he clearly thought was a “gotcha” moment, noting that Tester agreed with his position on some policy (I think it was immigration, can’t remember).

Tester smiled and said something like, “Even a Republican can’t be wrong all the time.”

Tommy Thompson is of course correct that Social Security will be solvent for decades with only minor tweaking. Even two years ago when Bush’s big privatization push was in the news, Republicans were warning that trouble was looming for the Social Security trust fund as early as (gasp) 2037.

Notice that since Congress rejected privatization plans, you don’t hear Bush or anyone else warning about the looming Social Security “crisis.” It was primarily a PR ploy to bring about changes desired by Wall Street money managers and Republican ideologues who have never liked Social Security in the first place.

Medicare is where the real crisis awaits us, and Thompson surely understands this. In less than a decade we are going to have major problems funding Medicare, unless we make some big changes.

Bush and Congressional Republicans made matters worse by adding prescription drug benefits to Medicare while prohibiting Medicare from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug costs (as the VA has done quite successfully).

Reading Don’s post, I felt sorry for Thompson. Here is he, mouthing almost every line conservatives demand to hear from their presidential candidates. Then he goes and makes them angry by speaking the truth on Social Security.

Just look at this anonymously posted comment under Don’s post:

If he can’t be straight with people about SS then he doesn’t deserve serious consideration. If he won’t call it the unworkable socialist Ponzi scheme that it is then Tommy can take that line of politician senior citizen panedering back to Wisconsin.

Voters of my generation aren’t buying that crap anymore. We know the score and we aren’t interested in being taxed to death paying for someone else’s retirement.

Never mind that the “unworkable socialist Ponzi scheme” has been functioning for many decades and is on track to keep working for decades longer.

Don and this anonymous commenter would do better to worry about the huge deficits that Bush and several Republican Congresses created with their unsustainable “tax cut and spend” policies. But no, they’ll stick with false GOP rhetoric suggesting that Social Security is the real fiscal problem facing the U.S.

I’ll be interested to see whether Thompson can get any traction in Iowa.

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