Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Reform Should End Tommy Thompson's Senate "Run"

Our feet are fairly firmly planted in the Thompson-will-not-run camp (see here for more, if you must), but the new health care reform bill probably just ended any further thought he may have about running.

The most recent poll on HCR's popularity in Wisconsin is just less than a week old and comes from Rasmussen:
Just 43% in Wisconsin favor the health care reform plan, while 54% are opposed. Those numbers include 25% who strongly favor the plan and 46% who strongly oppose it. Those results are similar to those found among voters on the national level.
An 11 point spread is nothing to scoff at, but this will close in the weeks and months ahead and Republicans have no choice but to assume that the 54% who oppose HCR will be the ceiling. That number will shrink after a few weeks of good press and the President barnstorming the country to help build support. Many of the first changes to the system will start taking place in September of this year, which will further endear the legislation to voters just before election time.

Thompson has already hinted that, if he did run, he would take the Romney Route and appeal to the teabagger wing of the GOP instead of fighting ideas with ideas. This will come into direct conflict with his tenure as HHS Secretary in the Bush Administration.

If you don't recall much of Thompson's time at HHS, it's because he was viewed as something of a non-entity. Health care reform was never on the Bush administration's radar, nor was health regulation for that matter. Appointments to key positions at HHS came from the White House and Thompson spent much of his time doing what was at the time thought to be a sexy gig: preparing for a biological or chemical terrorist attack. Every now and then something like Mad Cow or Avian Flu showed up on his plate, but what Thompson was primarily used for was anti-terror window dressing. He was a largely ineffective administrator who never really got the chance to shine.

In other words, Thompson has some impeccable heath care bona fides, but absolutely nothing to show for it compared to HRC. Despite this inconvenience Thompson has been out in the real world saying things like this:
Even though American health care is the best in the world, said Thompson, he predicts the health care system will collapse about 2013. "The first reason is that we spend about 16 percent of our GDP on health care, while other countries spend from four to 11 percent. Japan spends 7 percent. We spend a lot more than any other country." And, he said, by 2013 we'll double the expenditures; from $2 trillion to $4 trillion -- from 16 percent of GDP to 20 percent of GDP.
How would repealing the current HCR bill -- which is where he seems to be going -- help that situation? It doesn't. According to THT, we're damned if we do and damned if we don't. That's not a winning message.

Making matters worse, Thompson is all over the place on HCR. He's for it one day and against it the next, and that's before we start talking about all the lobbying interests that might be influencing his public stances. In other wordds, why would Wisconsin bother sending a health care "expert" who only wants to repeal the current bill back to Washington?

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