Fred Thompson talks as he rides

GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson called into the Radio Iowa newsroom this morning for a 10 minute chat.  The questions I posed were about tax policy, Bush’s SCHIP veto, Iraq & Iran.

Here’s the Radio Iowa story quoting Thompson’s support of President Bush’s veto of the expansion of the state childrens’ health insurance program.

It appears the former senator was speaking via cell phone from a vehicle as it buzzed north on I-35, bound for Thompson’s appearance at the ethanol plant near Nevada that’s a frequent stop for candidates because it’s the closest ethanol plant to Des Moines. There are certain parts of the interview that were lost in cell phone transmission.

Henderson: "Next week you’ll be taking part in your first debate, focusing on economic issues."

Thompson:  "Yea."

Henderson: "You have said the tax code needs an overhaul but you’ve stopped short of endorsing a national sales tax.  Do you have any other ideas for reformation of the tax code and also, what should the federal govt do in regards to the housing sector?"

Thompson: "I think that the housing issue is primarily a Federal Reserve issue.  Their primary responsibility is financial stability and the control of interest rates and apparently they foresaw in the indicators that they look at some recessionary pressures and they were reacting to that and trying to make sure that the problem in the housing industry didn’t spill over into the rest of the economy.  It looks like the markets are reacting favorably to that, so maybe they’re on the right track on that.  It seems to me that they are.

"The tax code has become kind of a hopeless mess.  It’s about (dropped word) pages of law now and a lot of revenues go uncollected and billions of dollars in compliance costs and so forth and we really need to come together and start over and make it simpler.  There’ve been a lot of proposals out there, the fair tax plan and some variations of that, the flat tax plan and some variations of that — all have theirs advantages and all have their disadvantages.  It’s clear that no one side is going to be able to push over all the other sides to get what they consider to be their perfect plan implemented.  We’re going to have to come together with a combination of things, I think, at the same time and the end result has got to be something that’s much simpler and less complicated and is not disadvantageous in the international markets.  Our companies are (dropped word) competitively with foreign companies because our tax code is fixed the way it is.  We’re disadvantaged in the international marketplace."

(Skipping the SCHIP question & answer)

Henderson:  "Republican crowds in Iowa — while they do support the mission in Iraq — they do ask candidates what is plan B if the surge doesn’t prove successful?  What is your second option in Iraq if the surge doesn’t prove successful?"

Thompson:  "There is no beneficial way to discuss failure and I’m not going to do that.  It will clearly depend on the circumstances at the time and I think to discuss hypotheticals based on failure is not a good thing to do.  It’s not a good signal to give.  We deal with the circumstances that we’re given & right now the circumstances are we’re in a tough, tough situation that everybody would like to get out of but we have some reasons to be optimistic now.  General Petraeus has outlined those reasons.  There are going to be some drawdowns, apparently, as part of a success scenario not because of any artificial deadlines and I think that’s a move in the right direction but people need to fundamentally understand that Iraq and Afghanistan are just current fronts in a much larger war and if we do not avail ourselves of the opportunity to stabilize the place, and to help those people to govern themselves, then we’re going to be leaving it open for an Iranian take-over, for a nuclear-ized middle east and for problems much bigger than the ones we have today.  We can’t avoid the world we live in and radical Islam has declared war against us and it’s a worldwide phenomenon & we need to keep that broader picture in mind."

Henderson: "How, as president, would you deal with Iran?"

Thompson:  "I think we need to understand first of all the threat that Iran poses to us. They have been killing our people for some time either directly or indirectly through terrorist organizations.  They are convinced that their god tells them that they should be rulers of the Muslim world and they should kill us off and (dropped words) and millions of innocent people will have to die in the process so be it, including their own people.  This is a different kind of threat and enemy with a different face as far as their ideology is concerned than we’ve ever faced before.  It’s religious in its origin but it’s twisted and warped so it presents a threat to us especially in Iraq. They want to take over Iraq.  They’re doing everything they can to try to drive us out of there.  We’re seeing some success with some minor economic sanctions right now.  I think the best way to describe it as probably aggravating the Iranians more than anything.  It’s not really hurting them. I’m afraid that the Soviet Union & China are not ever going to do anything that’s going to hurt them that badly but we need to ratchet those up if at all possible.  I think that the diplomatic route still has some possibilities.  I think also what’s going on inside the country has to be taken (dropped words).  We have a lot of people inside that country that do not want that kind of regime ruling them and the things that they’re doing.  They’re killing and imprisoning innocent people.  Their economy is on its way to a shambles.  Inflation and unemployment and violence have become commonplace in that country and so these people (dropped words) in large part take care of this situation themselves.  You don’t know what will be the aftermath of that, but it’s certainly an option that has to be considered and ultimately you know if they arrive and they have 3000 centrifuges right on their way to enriching uranium which would allow them to have a nuclear program, then we have to make sure our intelligence is good as to exactly what they’re doing and where they’re doing it and we cannot exclude a military option."

No, I did not mistype.  Thompson said Soviet Union rather than Russia.


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About O.Kay Henderson

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


  1. Color me embarrassed in Tennessee. You guys can keep him in Iowa if you want to.

  2. Fred, Fred, where’s your cred?
    Will you let me keep my bread?
    FairTax, Yes! ‘er FairTax, No!
    Just another politico?
    [b]Hope for tax reform, I see,
    Will be voting HUCKABEE !
    C’mon Fred, it’s not that hard where tax reform is concerned. Huckabee certainly gets it! Of the FairTax, Huckabee asserts that it’s…
    • SIMPLE, easy to understand
    • EFFICIENT, inexpensive to comply with and doesn’t cause less-than-optimal business decisions for tax minimization purposes
    • FAIR, FLAT, and FAMILY FRIENDLY, loophole-free, and everyone pays their share
    • LOW TAX RATE is achieved by broad base with no exclusions
    • PREDICTABLE, doesn’t change, so financial planning is possible
    • UNINTRUSIVE, doesn’t intrude into our personal affairs or limit our liberty
    • VISIBLE, not hidden from the public in tax-inflated prices or otherwise
    • PRODUCTIVE, rewards – rather than penalizes – work and productivity
    A detailed benefits analysis of the plan (from The FairTax Book) explains Huckabee’s ardent advocacy:
    • No more tax on income – make as much as you wish
    • You receive your full paycheck – no more deductions
    • You pay the tax when you buy “at retail” – not “used”
    • No more double taxation (e.g. like on current Capital Gains)
    • Reduction of “pre-FairTaxed” retail prices by 20%-30%
    • Adding back 29.9% FairTax maintains current price levels
    • FairTax would constitute 23% portion of new prices
    • Every household receives a monthly check, or “pre-bate”
    • “Prebate” is “advance tax payback” for monthly consumption to poverty level
    • FairTax’s “prebate” ensures progressivity, poverty protection
    • Finally, citizens are knowledgeable of what their tax IS
    • Elimination of “parasitic” Income Tax industry
    • Those possessing illicit forms of income will ALSO pay the FairTax
    • Households have more disposable income to purchase goods
    • Savings is bolstered with reduction of interest rates
    • Corporate income and payroll taxes revoked under FairTax
    • Business compensated for collecting tax at “cash register”
    • No more tax-related lawyers, lobbyists on company payrolls
    • No more embedded (hidden) income/payroll taxes in prices
    • Reduced costs. Competition – not tax policy – drives prices
    • Off-shore “tax haven” headquarters can now return to U.S
    • No more “favors” from politicians at expense of taxpayers
    • Resources go to R&D and study of competition – not taxes
    • Marketplace distortions eliminated for fair competition
    • US exports increase their share of foreign markets
    • 7% – 13% economic growth projected in the first year of the FairTax
    • Jobs return to the U.S.
    • Foreign corporations “set up shop” in the U.S.
    • Tax system trends are corrected to “enlarge the pie”
    • Larger economic “pie,” means thinner tax rate “slices”
    • Initial 23% portion of price is pressured downward as “pie” increases
    • No more “closed door” tax deals by politicians and business
    • FairTax sets new global standard. Other countries will follow
    While passionately supporting FairTax, Huckabee understands that, if elected President, Congress will have to present the bill for his signature. His call to action goes beyond his candidacy, Main Street will have to demand ( ) that their legislators deliver the bill.

  3. “No, I did not mistype. Thompson said Soviet Union rather than Russia.”
    Wasn’t it Ford who basically gave up the ghost for the 1976 campaign when he mentioned in a debate with Carter that Poland wasn’t controlled by the Soviet Union?
    I think it’s pretty clear that Fred, while ready for Prime Time in the literal sense, is NOT ready for Prime Time in the figurative political sense.

  4. Great Caesar’s ghost! Yet another “fair tax” spam-a-holic. Them Gomers are makin’ the Paul Ron fanatics look tame in comparison.
    As far as Thompson is concerned, I find it difficult to believe that an old geezer like him is up to the job of president, when he couldn’t even keep an even older and more incomprehensible geezer (one John Glenn) in check, during the Senate investigation into Chinese campaign cash.

  5. Fred was never my choice. My fear is he just might be elected by the couch potatoes who think that law and order guy is gonna be president.
    Did not know Fred had backed off of supporting FAIRTAX. FAIRTAX is no reason to vote FOR Mike Huckabee. He has a background of supporting the illegal aliens. When the campaign began he “didn’t know much about FAIRTAX” and the last 3 months has been acting like he wrote the bill. Tom Tancaredo and Duncan Hunter are cosponsors of H.R.25.