Thompson backtracks on getting rid of “the stockpile”

During the first televised "debate" among Republican presidential candidates, former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson gave an answer to a question about gays and employment that, afterwards, he sought to retract and revise.

Now, after the second televised "debate" among the GOP presidential hopefuls, Thompson is again offering a little revisionism. (The denial of facts accepted by mainstrearm history is a definition of revisionism. In this case, it appears Thompson is denying he said what he said.) 

After the jump you can first read the questions from Wendell Goler of FOX News and Thompson’s response.  That is followed by a transcript of the questions today from reporters in Des Moines and Thompson’s response. 

From the FOX News debate in South Carolina:

MR. GOLER: Governor Thompson, Brian from Fort Wayne asks this question via the internet, a question about controlling government spending. Some of your critics say you lack fiscal discipline. Tell me three federal programs you consider wasteful and would eliminate.

MR. THOMPSON: Well, first off, you’ve got to realize where I come from. I’m the only candidate up here that has over 1,900 vetoes. I’ve had more vetoes than all of the candidates on the both the Republican and Democratic side. I’ve reduced taxes by 16-and-a-half billion dollars when I was governor of the state of Wisconsin, and I’ve reduced spending. And I also cut taxes wherever I possibly could.

There are several programs that need to be cut in Washington, several of those in my former department. I would first make every agency come in with a budget at 95 percent of last year’s budget and one at 100 percent.

And you will be able to use that category and that exercise in order to reduce budgets all across the line. There are many ways to do it, and there are so many programs that need to be reduced and eliminated; because what happens in Washington, Wendell, is that programs get started, nobody ever supervises those or looks at them and tries to find ways to eliminate them. But there are many departments that could absolutely have programs that could be eliminated.

MR. GOLER: Governor, I didn’t hear three programs. Can you tell me one?

MR. THOMPSON: Well, the first one I would eliminate is a program in the Department of Health and Human Services in CDC that deals with the stockpile. The stockpile does a great job, but there are some inefficiencies there that we’re able to make some efficiencies and make some changes in that would eliminate that program.

Thompson Today in Des Moines, Iowa:

Ms. Henderson (of Radio Iowa):  What did you mean at the debate this week when you said you’d get rid of the stockpile in the agency which you used to head?

Mr. Thompson:  I didn’t say stockpile.  I didn’t say get rid of the stockpile.  What happened when they put in the Homeland Security, they took part of the stockpile and put it in Homeland Security.  I’d take that out of the Homeland Security, put it back in CDC where CDC has the expertise of running it.  The same thing they did for the medical doctors.  They took the medical doctors and put that under the supervision of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security.  We’re the department that should be running the security, the security for the stockpiles and not spilt between Homeland Security and CDC.  You could eliminate that portion of Homeland Security and consolidate it at CDC and the same way with the doctors.  There’s a lot of duplication and when you’re in an emergency and you’re got a health catastrophe like we did on 9/11 or Katrina, you have to have the doctors in charge of running the health care system instead of having it split between FEMA, Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services.  I would save money by consolidating it back the way it was before Homeland Security was set up.

Ms. Henderson:  Mr. Goler’s question was about cutting.  That’s consolidating. 

Mr. Thompson:  No.  That would save money and what Mr. Goler said, and he didn’t understand my answer, my answer was you would require departments to come in with a base budget that’s lower than what they have.  That saves more money than cutting individual programs.  That’s where the president of the United States can have an impact on reducing the deficit by, I says come in with 95 percent, 98 percent, 99 percent.  You then will save money.  He did not understand that.  He wanted specific programs which you don’t, that is not how you save money.  You save money like I did when I was governor of the State of Wisconsin and make department heads to come in with budgets that are less than they got the year before.  That’s how you save money.

Mr. Sprengelmeyer (of the Rocky Mountain News):  Congress has tried to pass a one percent across the board cut.  That’s, Congressman Hefley’s been doing that for 20 years.  It’s never gotten through the congress.

Mr. Thompson:  Yes, but it has on sometimes they have taken a percentage and that saves more money and it’s a much better way to do it because by cutting out programs, you have to be in charge of the program to know whether or not the program works.   My way saves money, makes it much more efficient and is able to really improve the quality of government.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.