Former Governor Tommy Thompson and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-2nd District) have gone toe-to-toe in a long campaign that will conclude on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Each of the canadidates' stances on issues are provided here.
Thompson says he’s running
on a record of helping Wisconsin
Former governor assails Baldwin as an extremist
By Richard Moore
of The Lakeland Times
Former governor Tommy Thompson, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, likes to tout his record as governor while on the campaign trail, while he accuses his Democratic opponent, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, of trying to hide her time in Congress.
“While Tammy Baldwin has been trying to run from her record, I am proud to stand on mine,” Thompson says of his time as governor. “Working with the private sector, we created more than 740,000 jobs, cut taxes 91 times, and introduced bold reforms that were adopted nationally. Together, we turned Wisconsin into an economic powerhouse.”
Thompson says Wisconsin families know they can trust him to do it again, and he says he will do just that with a plan to restore America by creating a competitive business environment, expanding energy opportunities and lowering taxes.
“I am proud of the work we did when I was governor and I know there is a lot more to do in the United States Senate,” Thompson says."
Specifically, Thompson says he will cast a decisive vote in the Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. He describes it as an underfunded, potentially unconstitutional government takeover of one of the largest sectors of the economy.
It didn’t have to be this way, Thompson says. But rather than work with Republicans, Thompson said the president, Baldwin and their allies chose to ram through an ideological formula for government control of a third of the economy.
When it comes to Baldwin, the Thompson campaign says she is even more radical than Obama, expecially on health care.
“The Tammy Baldwin who proudly accepted the label of ‘liberal’ and has represented the Madison Isthmus for the past 14 years is not the same Tammy Baldwin who is running for the U.S. Senate,” says Thompson spokeswoman Lisa Boothe. “Now that Baldwin is running a statewide campaign she is desperately trying to cover up her extremist past, including her 14-year history of supporting a single-payer system. From day one of ObamaCare’s passage, Baldwin said it didn’t go far enough, but now that her past is catching up to her she is changing her tune. She can try to run from her liberal record, but she can’t hide.”
Thompson says the nation can afford neither Obamacare nor prior policy, both of which he said will cause deficits to balloon, businesses to suffer under excessive costs and families to fear loss of affordable care.
In addition to repealing ObamaCare, Thompson proposes to reward quality and cost savings, reform medical liability, reform insurance, and enact Medicaid reform.
A deficit of trust
When it comes to the deficit, Thompson says the nation is at a crossroads, with a $15 trillion deficit threatening the solvency of the nation.
This is the course Obama, Harry Reid and Baldwin have charted for the nation he says, ,it has led to a “deficit of trust” for Democrats and for Obama in particular.
“The real ‘deficit of trust’ is between the American people and President Obama,” Thompson said on the campaign trail. “This is a president who is bereft of constructive ideas, with no real answers to our languishing economy. After pursuing a failed liberal agenda, the Obama Administration is now left to relying on divisiveness rather than on unity. The president’s call for ‘fairness’ is thinly veiled class warfare that will not create a single job or put food on the table of a single family.”
What’s more, he says, the solutions to the fiscal and economic crises are simple and obvious: we must cut entitlement spending and whittle away at the size of government.
“It is time that we unite this country around common-sense solutions that promise long-term economic vitality and a new prosperity for our people,” Thompson said. “We must summon the courage to address our fiscal crisis through entitlement reform and shrinking government. And we must simplify taxes and reduce regulations, releasing private enterprises to begin investing and hiring again.
But the former governor said that wouldn’t happen through platitudes or by pitting one class against another.
“It will happen by reshaping government and allowing the American entrepreneurial spirit to thrive again,” he said. “It is time for change in Washington.”
More specifically, Thompson has endorsed Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity and says he will take the necessary steps to ensure the U.S. Senate takes up the plan. Addressing runaway spending and the debt it causes is the defining issue of the day, he says.
Thompson said he would also would work to reform the Senate budget process to ensure enactment of a budget and to deny debt limit increases.”
But while he says he pursues tax relief and fiscal responsibility, Thompson accuses Baldwin of reckless and extreme policies that put her well outside the Wisconsin mainstream.
Among other things, Thompson says, Baldwin was the architect of the so-called Buffett Tax, which would raise taxes on small businesses across Wisconsin. According to the campaign website, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called the tax a “political gimmick.”
“Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin’s failed economic policies have led our nation down a path of debt, doubt and decline,” Thompson said. “Over her 14 years in Congress, she voted to raise the debt ceiling seven times, saddling every Wisconsin child with $50,000 of debt. And as a result of failed economic policies like her party’s $825 billion stimulus bill, she left one in eight Wisconsin workers looking for a job. To make matters worse, in order to pay for Obamacare and other wasteful spending she voted to cut Medicare for Wisconsin seniors and to raise taxes on middle class families. With a failed economic record like hers, it is clear that she does not have Wisconsin families’ best interests at heart.”
The current federal tax system is fundamentally dysfunctional, Thompson says. Not only that, he says, but decades of political manipulation and special-interest pandering have created a powerful drag on the economy.
The Democrats’ policies will only make the situation worse, his campaign contends.
“(Obama’s) budget would increase taxes by $1.5 trillion and continue the economically destructive practice of picking winners and losers, punishing our job creators while rewarding his political friends,” his website proclaims.
What’s worse, he contends, though taxes are meant specifically to raise revenue, the nation’s tax structure is built with no direct relation to the funding of essential governmental services.
“We cannot ultimately address America’s spending and debt crisis without directly tying limits on taxation to limits on spending,” the campaign states.
He says his tax reform initiative is designed to achieve three overriding objectives: address the spending and debt crisis; simplify taxation for individuals; and spur the economy through pro-growth corporate tax policy.
Specifically, Thompson endorses Paul Ryan’s plan to limit federal spending to roughly 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product, which would consistently reduce the deficit over time by holding spending to the historical average.
“To ensure the federal government abides by this target, Tommy will propose a revenue limit on the federal government that restrains federal tax receipts to no more than 18.5 percent of GDP,” the campaign states. “Tax tables would be uniformly adjusted to collect no more than the revenue limit, creating an incentive for Congress and the White House to live within our means and accelerate economic growth.”
Thompson would also make the Bush tax cuts permanent, and then work to phase in a flat tax, initially offering individual taxpayers the option of filing a single-page tax form with a flat 15 percent rate. Individuals could also choose to use the current tax form in order to take full advantage of exemptions, the campaign states.
Then, after two years of experience with the flat tax, Thompson would move to an across-the board flat tax with provisions to encourage savings, investment, home ownership and support for charities.
To jump-start the economy and generate jobs, Thompson says he would also exempt all households earning less than $100,000 from capital gains taxes, and he would propose the repeal of federal taxation on Social Security benefits.
In the business sector, Thompson says he would reduce the corporate income tax rate to 25 percent. In addition, he says he will work to repatriate up to $1 trillion in foreign profits generated by U.S. corporations by pursuing a policy of zero taxation on foreign profits repatriated to the U.S. when those profits are used for investment in plant and equipment, job training or research and development.
“Investing more than $1 trillion in our economy at little or no cost to the U.S. Treasury (because those profits are generally not taxed now) is among the most powerful near-term actions we can take to restore America’s economy,” his campaign states.
In energy, first and foremost, Thompson says he would use all the power of his office to advocate for the permitting and construction of the Keystone Pipeline.
“Keystone has a two-fold benefit for the U.S. and Wisconsin: expanding access to North American oil and creating jobs,” his campaign states. “According to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the $3 billion project would create an estimated 20,000 construction jobs and could create as many as 600,000 jobs by 2035. In addition, the project would result in the purchase of equipment, machinery and expertise from many Wisconsin companies.”
Once in operation, Thompson’s campaign asserts, 70,000 barrels of oil per day would flow through the pipeline, according to the AEI.
Thompson says he would also open new sources of U.S. territory to oil and natural gas drilling
“The U.S. is one of the only countries in the world that puts most of its shoreline and vast areas of wilderness out of reach for energy developers,” the campaign asserts. “The Obama Administration has given mere election-year lip service to expanded exploration while erecting every possible barrier to action. We will never have an opportunity for energy independence without safely using known U.S. deposits of oil and natural gas.”
As such, Thompson said he will support legislative action to open areas of shoreline in the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Alaska to oil and natural gas exploration and production.
The regulatory approval process must be streamlined as well, he says, with definite timelines for review, and litigation reform is necessary, too, to prevent endless legal action.
Finally, Thompson said he would expand natural gas production by protecting the fracking process.
The bottom line is, Thompson says, the choice is a clear one between his record of growth and his proposals for reform and Baldwin’s extreme leftism.
“After three debates, it could not be clearer: Tammy Baldwin is too extreme for Wisconsin families,” Thompson said. “Just as she has done since the beginning of this race, Tammy Baldwin ran from her liberal record.”
But the record is there nonetheless, Thompson said.
“From her decision to politicize a vote honoring the victims of 9/11 to her desperate attempt to walk back 14 years of support for a single-payer system, my opponent is doing everything she can to cover up her liberal record,” he said. “She doesn’t want Wisconsin families to know that she voted to raise taxes on each family by $3,000 or that she supported regulations that will kill jobs right here in our great state.”
Baldwin vows fight
against special interests
Democratic Senate candidate pledges to work
for economic security, education investments
By Richard Moore
of The Lakeland Times
If Tammy Baldwin’s campaign can be defined and framed in a matter of words, two would stand out: security and investments.
The seven-term Democratic congresswoman from Madison, who is seeking to win the U.S. Senate seat now held by the retiring Sen. Herb Kohl, has pledged to work for economic security for the middle class and seniors, as well as for education investments for the future, and she says that will require fighting wealthy special interests to do it.
In her announcement speech, for example, Baldwin told voters in a video that she would “stand up for you, no matter how tough the odds or how powerful the special interest it means fighting against. ... It’s time politicians looked out for seniors, working families and the middle class – instead of protecting the profits of big oil and Wall Street.”
Throughout her campaign this year, she has sought to link her Republican opponent, former Gov. Tommy Thompson, to those wealthy special interests, labeling him as a lobbyist who has benefited from sweetheart deals.
Among other charges, Baldwin has pointed to Thompson’s financial interests in seven businesses tied to Iran, including a China-based oil company.
“This is another example of Tommy Thompson putting his own profiteering ahead of doing the right thing,” John Kraus, spokesman for the Baldwin campaign, said. “Thompson has been pounding his chest with tough talk on Iran, but now it has been revealed that he has personal financial interests and direct investments in seven companies tied to Iran after he tried to fool voters.”
Thompson has said he sold his stocks once he learned of the companies’ ties.
Beyond his own financial interest, Baldwin has zeroed in on Thompson’s work in the Bush administration, in which she says Thompson has taken credit for prohibiting the federal government from negotiating lower Medicare Part D drug prices with drug companies.
“Tommy Thompson left Wisconsin for Washington and went to work for George Bush, where he was the self-proclaimed ‘mastermind’ of a measure that was unpaid for and increased the deficit,” Kraus said. “He was the ‘architect’ of a plan to make it illegal for the government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. Now Thompson says he wants to ‘do away’ with Medicare and supports the Congressional Republican plan to provide billions in new profits for big insurance companies and a voucher for seniors instead of the guaranteed benefit they paid for, sticking them with $6,000 more in out-of-pocket costs.”
In contrast to what she calls Thompson’s ties to wealthy special interests – whom she says the Republican budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan favors – Baldwin stresses economic security for the middle class.
Among other things, she introduced the Paying a Fair Share Act, or so-called Buffett rule, to ensure that middle class workers do not pay a higher tax rate than those earning more than $1 million a year.
“It is simply unfair to ask middle class Americans to pay a higher tax rate than millionaires and billionaires,” Baldwin said. “The Paying a Fair Share Act will help restore people’s faith that if you work hard and play by the rules, you’ll have a chance to get ahead. For far too long, our tax code has unfairly benefited the wealthiest Americans, while middle class families have taken it on the chin. It’s up to Congress to fix this obvious injustice. I call on all of my colleagues to join me in taking this first step to strengthen our middle class and rebuild our economy with a commitment to shared responsibility and shared sacrifice.”
In addition to fighting for tax breaks for the middle class and small businesses, Baldwin says she voted against letting Wall Street and big banks write their own rules and was one of “only a handful of members of Congress” who voted no on repealing the Glass-Steagall Act. The Glass-Steagall Act had been in place since the Great Depression and kept banks from engaging in many of the risky practices that later led to the 2008 economic collapse, her campaign stated.
Baldwin also says she opposed the Justice Department’s attempt to cut a sweetheart deal for the five biggest mortgage banks by giving them immunity from prosecution for the fraud she says they had committed.
Baldwin also says she knows China cheats on trade and manipulates its currency, which costs Americans jobs. She says she supports imposing strong tariffs on China. She also sent a letter to U.S. acting secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank asking the administration to crack down on Chinese practices hurting Wisconin and other American solar manufacturers.
“The solar industry provides employment in a variety of sectors in our state, and manufacturers, distributors, and contractors across Wisconsin have suffered because of illegal and unfair Chinese solar trade practices,” Baldwin wrote.
Security remains a theme in Baldwin’s pitch for seniors’ support.
Her campaign says Baldwin is committed to protecting Social Security benefits, not privatizing them, and she also pledges to work to strengthen Medicare, not ending it as we know it.
“For decades, Medicare and Social Security have been fundamental pillars of middle class security in America,” her campaign states. “Unlike her opponents, who will force cuts to Medicare and Social Security while letting millionaires and big corporations off the hook, Tammy is opposed to placing the burden of reducing our deficit on Wisconsin’s seniors. She opposes the Ryan budget plan, which would end Medicare as we know it, while giving tax breaks to the wealthiest people in the country.”
Likewise, her campaign states, Baldwin has fought to strengthen Medicare for 930,000 Wisconsinites.
“The health care law filled gaps and improved coverage for every single person with Medicare,” the campaign asserts. “In fact, the Affordable Care Act extended the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by eight years at the same time that it is bringing new benefits to Wisconsin seniors. People with Medicare are also guaranteed free preventive care – care seniors need to stay healthy. Last year alone, almost 650,000 seniors in Wisconsin were treated with a preventive service under Medicare – with no out-of-pocket cost.”
Baldwin says she is the candidate of fiscal responsibility.
To that end, the first step to reducing debt and deficits in a fair way is “to ensure millionaires pay their fair share of taxes and fight to see that no big multinational corporations get away with paying nothing at all,” her campaign states.
For example, according to the campaign, in 2001, she opposed billions in tax breaks for overseas corporations; in 2004, she voted against a corporate tax bill that included $42 billion in tax cuts for overseas operations of U.S. companies and she has consistently opposed taxpayer hand-outs for big oil.
To reduce spending, the campaign states, Baldwin would take away subsidies to big corporate farms, bring troops home from Afghanistan and reduce the cost of prescription drugs under Medicare by ending taxpayer give-aways to the pharmaceutical industry – requiring that Medicare negotiate with prescription drug companies.
“We can’t cut our way to prosperity – a balanced approach to deficit reduction asks everyone to pay their fair share, closes tax loopholes for the wealthy and corporations and protects the investments that are vital to our economic recovery: education, rebuilding our infrastructure, strengthening our manufacturing base, and reducing the tax burden on small businesses so that they can continue to create jobs and drive our economy forward,” her campaign states.
Education and health care
On the investment side, Baldwin touts her support for the Affordable Care Act and for increased education funding.
“Tammy sponsored legislation to improve access to early learning and child care programs,” the campaign states. “She has supported high standards in schools and measures that encourage accountability while providing states more flexibility to improve student achievement.”
Baldwin has also supported funding to hire more teachers in classrooms and to reduce class sizes and she supported emergency K-12 funding included in the Recovery Act, a law she says saved or created approximately 286,000 jobs in public schools.
“Fighting to make higher education more affordable, Tammy understands the importance of investing in Wisconsin’s public and private universities, technical schools and community colleges so that everyone has the skills and training they need to succeed,” the campaign states. “In Congress, she has supported student loan reform to make college financing more accessible and affordable. To succeed in the future’s global economy, students from working and middle class families need access to college and technical schools.”
In 2008, Baldwin voted in favor of reauthorizing the Higher Education Act and doubling the maximum number of Pell Grants She also supported Obama’s Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act in 2009, which overhauled the federal student loan program and removed over $60 million from the big banks, the campaign states. And, in 2011, she supported Obama’s efforts to ease the burden of student loan debt for recent graduates.
But that’s not all, she says. Baldwin says she is working to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling for Wisconsin college students – an increase of nearly $1,000 for the average Wisconsin students with higher education loans.
As for health care, Baldwin says access to affordable health care is vital to middle class security but for decades big insurance companies have paid billions every year to game the system.
“For too long insurance companies had too much power over people’s health care and would arbitrarily cap and cancel Wisconsinites’ benefits, or refuse to cover kids just because they were born with a pre-existing condition,” the campaign states.
That’s why Baldwin says she supported the Affordable Care Act, which she says will put an end to some of the worst insurance industry abuses.
“Before the health care law, insurance companies were free to charge women 50% more than men for the same insurance coverage,” the campaign states. “Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to do this. The law also prohibits private insurance companies from charging a co-pay or deductible for recommended preventive services like mammograms, contraception and regular well-baby and well-child visits with a pediatrician.”
Baldwin was also one of the authors of the amendment to allow young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they are 26. As a result, she says, millions more young adults across the country now have health coverage.
In addition, her campaign states, the Affordable Care Act removed wasteful subsidies for insurance companies and helped improve coverage for every single person with Medicare.
“In fact, the health care law guarantees free preventive care, including the services seniors need to stay healthy,” the campaign states. “The Medicare prescription drug ‘doughnut hole’ used to leave seniors paying thousands of dollars for the medicines they need. But the health care law is closing the doughnut hole and Wisconsin seniors have saved millions of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.”
Finally, the campaign states, Baldwin has pressed repeatedly for a Farm Bill that reforms programs, strengthens farm safety nets and gives farmers long term certainty, and she opposed an extension of the existing Farm Bill, which she said contains wasteful spending, including direct payments to “millionaires and billionaires.”
Richard Moore may be reached at email@example.com