Tommy Thompson
Former Governor of Wisconsin; Former Secretary, Health and Human Services

American Identity

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We don't live in a vacuum.

Tommy Thompson

From 1987 to 2001, Tommy Thompson served as the 42nd Governor of Wisconsin, having been elected to an unprecedented four terms. Thompson's initiatives during his 13 years as governor of Wisconsin included his Wisconsin Works welfare reform program and school choice program, which allowed low-income Milwaukee families to send children to the private or public school of their choice at taxpayer expense. He also created the BadgerCare program, designed to provide health coverage to those families whose employers don't provide health insurance but make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. Through the federal waiver program, Thompson helped replicate this program in several states when he was appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services by President George W. H. Bush in 2001, a position he would hold for four years. Thompson began his career in public service in 1966 as a representative in Wisconsin's state Assembly. He was elected assistant Assembly minority leader in 1973 and Assembly minority leader in 1981. Thompson has received numerous awards for his public service, including the Anti-Defamation League's Distinguished Public Service Award. In 1997, he received Governing Magazine's Public Official of the Year Award, and the Horatio Alger Award in 1998. Thompson has also served as chairman of the National Governors' Association, the Education Commission of the States and the Midwestern Governors' Conference. Thompson also served in the Wisconsin National Guard and the Army Reserve. Currently, he is an independent senior advisor of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions and a partner at the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

Question: What do we stand for?

Tommy Thompson: I see the fact that 9/11 changed all of our way of thinking. It made us realize that we are no longer an island in the world. It made us realize that we are part of this whole universe, much more so than ever before; that people can harm us; that some people don’t like us. Some people out there really despise America – our way of life, our value systems. And what we have to do is we have to show the rest of the world that our value systems and our beliefs are good; and that people may not want to adopt them, but they should look at them and try and emulate some of the greatness of America. And I believe, you know, the way forward is to do what I’m talking about. Medical diplomacy, winning the peace in Iraq. And you know, you’re never gonna solve this problem without really winning the peace in Iraq.

Recorded on: 7/6/07