What is the legacy of George W. Bush?

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.
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TRANSCRIPT

Question: What is the legacy of George W. Bush?

Tommy Thompson: He is a man of convictions. And people should give George W. Bush that credit. He is a very highly principled and highly passionate individual that believes in his cause. What I differ from the President is that he is too cloistered. You know, he is too isolated from, you know, talking to people and bringing in better ideas. And nothing is static in our world. And I think that’s where I differ with the President. The President can only see his way on the Iraq war, and there are . . . my way that I just laid out. There are other ideas out there. And he’s gotta bring in, you know, a tremendous transfusion of new people and new ideas to help advise him. The President cannot sit in the 1600 East Pennsylvania Avenue in his cloistered office and expect all of his decisions to be correct. He needs, like I did, with governor – I moved the Cabinet out into the dormitories on college campuses. I moved my own office as Secretary of Health and Human Services to every division in the department. I learned from that. I became a better Secretary. And where I differ from the President . . . I applaud him for his convictions; I question his advice that he’s getting from his inside circle of people. That circle needs to be expanded, and he needs better ideas coming from people outside of that circle. I think his legacy is gonna be better than people are giving him credit for right now. I think a lot depends on the war on terror. I mean he’s taken on the war on terror. If he’s able to win the war on terror, or if he’s able to show the way to control terrorism in the future, I think the historians are gonna be kind to the President. If this war on terror gets worse or we can’t find solutions to it, I think the President’s history is not gonna be as bright.

Recorded on: 7/6/07

 

 


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