What happened to the Tommy we used to know?

2012-08-17T09:45:00Z 2012-08-17T10:07:45Z What happened to the Tommy we used to know?Cap Times editorial madison.com
August 17, 2012 9:45 am  • 

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson used to be pretty open about his finances. When he was governor of Wisconsin for the better part of 14 years, and during his four years as George W. Bush's secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, he often complained about not making enough money.

And he regularly released his tax returns.

When he left Bush's Cabinet, he bluntly declared that he was going to "make some money."

And he did. Millions and millions of dollars.

But now, as he competes with Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin to see who will replace U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, he says he won't release his tax returns.

Indeed, he's kind of belligerent about it, spelling out the word "N-O" when asked about whether he'll provide the returns.

That doesn't sound like the old Tommy Thompson, who was rooted in Wisconsin. That sounds like the new Tommy Thompson, who is rooted in Washington.

We didn't always agree with the old Tommy. But we sure miss him now, as we think a lot of voters will.

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(44) Comments

  1. vaportrail
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    vaportrail - August 19, 2012 4:54 pm
    Very well said. Unfortunately, the people you’re trying hardest to reach probably tuned out after the first sentence once they saw you stood to the right of socialism. If all they can talk about are tax returns instead of touting how successful their side has been over last four years, that alone says everything about how successful their side has been over the last four years. If all Obama can talk about in his ads are Romney’s finances instead of touting all his success over the last four years, that alone says everything about how much success he’s had over the last four years.
  2. Arnold Harris
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    Arnold Harris - August 19, 2012 2:23 pm
    No citizen of the United States, including candidates for public office, have any obligation to release their tax returns for public inspection. In any case, the US Internal Revenue Service already has inspected all such tax returns, which is what the rest of us pay them to do.

    Serious candidates for high office such as the US presidency and vice-presidency, the US Senate, and state governors typically are successful men and women who served successfully in public office or in private business. Most of them already are wealthy, or they would not have the political connections necessary for them to be considered political contenders.

    With that understanding, the concerns of intelligent voters will focus on the policies these candidates intend to pursue to solve the outstanding problems of the various states or our American commonwealth as a whole. The United States is being spent into national bankruptcy, along with most states and municipalities all across America. it would seem that the key concern will be whether or not the value of our currency will dissolve into oblivion, as is happening throughout Europe,

    Unless the spending hemorrhages are reversed, there will be little or no private investment in our economy. Your jobs will disappear, and with bankrupt governments, there will no public programs to hire any of you. Your children will graduate from schools with non-marketable skills and no job offers other than for the commonest form of occasional day labor.

    And don't say this cannot happen here in the USA. It already has, throughout the early and middle 1930s, when I was a small child. But at that time, there was a US economy ready to be re-inflated, and with the approach of World War II, there was full employment again to fill the millions of jobs in the vast military armaments arsenals. But that will not happen again. We no longer have an easily re-inflatable economy, and any World War III would be fought with thermo-nuclear weapons that would lead to universal mass human extinction.

    The time has come for many people on the political left, and perhaps not a few on the political right, to begin serious rethinking about what do about all of the above. Some of you think about an American socialism. But I lived overseas in one of the now-dead socialist states -- former Jugoslavija -- and I can tell you for a fact that they way such places work is not much different from Al Capone's gangland Chicago in the 1920s. In other words, a place ruled by power-grabbers ostensibly in the name of "the people".In the end, I think taxes in fact will be raised, simultaneously with decreases in spending on so-called entitlements. This is just one more thing to which you are entitled so long as someone else's money is paying for it. And when the money runs out, so does your entitlement.

    I support men and women from both parties for public office. At the local level and for some members of the state legislators, I support Democrats. This is partly because their are few qualified -- or quality -- candidates for these offices among the local Republicans. But for national office and for governors, I prefer Republicans. They are less likely to create conditions that make it difficult or impossible for small businesses to stay alive or grow, I am one such small businessman, and my immediate concern is feeding myself and my family, rather than reforming society to paths of behavior contrary either or both to the American culture of liberty and economic independence, or common sense in dealing with the problems of self-government.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI. .

  3. gdp
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    gdp - August 19, 2012 6:39 am
    Thompson has the right attitude. The only interest in a tax return is driven by the greed/envy syndrome, betraying a political orientation out of touch with the needs of the nation. The proof? Look at the results of those making the demands, the financial disarray created by spendthrift policy! Now, the only hope is that Tommy has gotten beyond the adolescent euphoria of progressivism and will put his practical skills to work in moderating good order in limited fashion, continuing the well honored tradition of extolling the common weal in upholding private judgment over misguided public policy Time for some real healthy change!.
  4. fredfunk
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    fredfunk - August 18, 2012 4:54 pm
    new or old tommy, he is a complete dud. he represents the very lagre corporations, voters, wake up from your deep sleep.
  5. midwest1
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    midwest1 - August 18, 2012 3:03 pm
    He released one year (2010) and promised to release 2011 before election. He has an extension. Look it up.
  6. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - August 18, 2012 2:34 pm
    Does it still count as "failed" if people like you continue to be addicted to it?
  7. From
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    From - August 18, 2012 1:53 pm


    New Thompson = Grumpy Old Man
  8. Roundtable
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    Roundtable - August 18, 2012 12:26 pm
    Might be a few more zeros added since the last release. Trust me ,there's alot of people who want to know.
  9. tomtom33
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    tomtom33 - August 18, 2012 12:09 pm
    Romney released 2 years.
  10. tomtom33
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    tomtom33 - August 18, 2012 12:08 pm
    Joe Kennedy made a few shady deals in his life. Was Jack like him?
  11. tomtom33
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    tomtom33 - August 18, 2012 12:06 pm
    Tommy isn't running for President, either. McCain released 2 years, same as Romney. Zero years are required.
  12. tomtom33
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    tomtom33 - August 18, 2012 12:04 pm
    The old Tommy sold his soul many times over to the highest bidder.
  13. tomtom33
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    tomtom33 - August 18, 2012 12:03 pm
    And Dems care. They would never agree to accept public financing and then go back on that agreement.

    Are you familiar with the record of JFK, RFK, and EMK? Womanizing? Did Teddy drink?
  14. tomtom33
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    tomtom33 - August 18, 2012 11:58 am
    If you want to see tax returns, I suggest that you work to establish a law requiring them. How many Dem Senators have released any? Nancy Pelosi never released any.
  15. epic
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    epic - August 18, 2012 9:45 am
    Posters here still feel the sting of the recall elections and the fact that all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't undo the will of the people. Tommy will get the job and he will become the junior senator in spite of revealing as many of his tax returns as the great senator from Nevada, Harry Reid, has revealed (hint: zero returns).
  16. epic
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    epic - August 18, 2012 9:40 am
    Where are the tax returns? Her campaign website says she released the returns but I can't find the returns, only statements about her tax returns. I'd like to see the returns. Where, oh where are the returns?
  17. JBANK
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    JBANK - August 18, 2012 9:27 am
    Who cares if it doesn't jive with the facts? No one. Recent history shows us that it just doesn't matter when it comes to earnings/reporting by politicians. Claire McCaskill (D) Missouri coughed up about $275,000 last year for a "mistake" in filing her taxes for over 4 years. Is she on the ballot this year? Of course she is and plenty of folks will vote for her. Fill out an amended form, pay a few bucks to the IRS and move on.
  18. nolie
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    nolie - August 18, 2012 8:59 am
    Liberals are obsessed with tax returns -because they are losers and takers and want to damn success and achievement. Except for criminal types like dingy Harry Reid -who in 30 years in Congress has never once, never once, released a tax return. Where's the outrage and outcry from the failed weekly insert? Crickets.

  19. middleclassmd
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    middleclassmd - August 17, 2012 11:54 pm
    I guess "real money" earned in the private sector by former Republican politicians and aspiring ones is none of our business just in case it doesn't jive with what is proven to be fact if someone digs into it too much...
  20. middleclassmd
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    middleclassmd - August 17, 2012 11:37 pm
    Right, I wonder what his new stance on embryonic stem cells is... I bet it depends on who is paying more to support him these days.
  21. bookman21
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    bookman21 - August 17, 2012 11:21 pm
    Tommy sold out as a lobbyist and has sold us out. The old pragmatic, reach across the aisle and get things done guy is gone. He has been replaced with a cardboard replica that spouts teabagger talk.
  22. middleclassmd
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    middleclassmd - August 17, 2012 11:19 pm
    Warren, you mean that "once-great nation" where we used to have a middle class and the rich didn't want to so obviously get richer at the middle classes' expense? Go check the list of billionaires during this economic downturn (try Forbes.com) they have been doing quite well in greater numbers than ever before and they control more of the world's wealth than ever before...
  23. Warren G Harding
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    Warren G Harding - August 17, 2012 11:01 pm
    Ann Romney told the libruls, welfare queens and Kenyan socialists that Mitt's tax returns are nobody's business but their own. Since when do elites have to respond to this communistic drivel? No Republicans have to show anything because there's nothing to see. The dirty Democrat Party has stolen billions from hard-working Americans and they get away with it every time. If Republicans need to keep their money in the Caymans or Panama to keep the welfare bums and Socialist Security thieves from getting it it just shows how badly the libruls have ruined this once-great nation.
  24. middleclassmd
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    middleclassmd - August 17, 2012 10:33 pm
    The old Tommy had to start drinking tea... he also went into the private sector so he could make some "real money" and now he is embarrassed to have to show why he likes being so far right... if you can't beat the 1% join them if you get the chance!
  25. tomtom
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    tomtom - August 17, 2012 10:01 pm
    Thompson is still doing his old blowhard act
  26. flipside
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    flipside - August 17, 2012 8:05 pm
    Nobody cares about tax returns? THAT is the heart of the debate...rich vs poor...1% vs the 99 . It is the microsm of the imbalance of the masses. It is the tip of the iceberg, the infection in our unity, the dagger in the heart of democracy. How you pay your way in this country is what is all about.........Tom Thompon and Romney are parasites on the family of free men.
  27. JBANK
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    JBANK - August 17, 2012 7:47 pm
    The outrage! Hard to imagine how we will all survive the next 80 days or so if this nonsense rules the day. No one cares about tax returns. Not yesterday. Not today. Not tomorrow. Did Charlie Rangel fill out disclosure forms and file tax returns. Of course he did, just one problem, he cheated. Ditto the current Treasury Secretary. The icing on the cake is dear old Hillary Clinton. Does anyone really believe she turned $1000 into $100000. Her tax return says she did ... so it must be true! Hint! Hint! She cheated. Both sides have scoundrels, cheats and liars. Always did and always will.
  28. Dode
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    Dode - August 17, 2012 6:15 pm
    Would you point to the link on her site where her records can be perused? All I find is a claim that she released her records. Milwaukee JS says they saw her records, but didn't post them. I want to be able to look at them so I can misrepresent them like the left plans on doing with Romney's and Tommy's returns.
  29. wisconsineye
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    wisconsineye - August 17, 2012 5:23 pm
    Nav- send me the link on that 'obligation'. You people would never be satisfied- first five, then cry for 10. It's NONE of your business- you would not even be able to understand it anyway. Are you pulling a Harry Reed and saying he did not pay? You should have vetted Obama.
  30. MTBlitz
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    MTBlitz - August 17, 2012 3:46 pm

    Tammy released 10 years worth, this is what honest politicians with nothing to hide do.


    Obama/Biden's are out there too. where's romney's ? ryan's ? tommy's ? it's ok we all know why they wont release them. it would just confirm what we all suspect, that they have more money than 99% of us, and they pay a lot smaller % than the rest of us.if they got thier way, they would pay 7% and make a working family of 4 making less than 50k per year pay 35%., just running the tea bagger play book.
  31. TheJudoon
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    TheJudoon - August 17, 2012 3:38 pm
  32. TheJudoon
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    TheJudoon - August 17, 2012 3:37 pm
    What's different about him now, you ask?
    I doubt he's got talkative young girlfriends on the side anymore.
    God, at least I hope not because then I'll have to weep for today's youth.
  33. notvanilla
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    notvanilla - August 17, 2012 2:46 pm
    @ Solstice: Exactly!! Where are Tammy's tax returns? Have you seen them, I haven't. What about Tammy's membership in the Democratic Socialist Caucus - is she telling anyone about that? What about Obama/Biden's taxes? They out there? You need to learn to read the entire paragraph, not pick-n-choose.
  34. Solstice
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    Solstice - August 17, 2012 1:31 pm
    Blame George Romney for the interest all Americans have in the personal financial history of those who would represent us. He released 12 years worth of federal returns when the question was asked of him. Like father, like son? Not so much. And, wait, excuse me, "the Left" has a "voyeuristic obsession?" Let's hear from *ahem* avowed Marxist George F. WIll: “I do not know why, given that Mitt Romney knew the day that McCain lost in 2008 that he was going to run for president again that he didn’t get all of this out and tidy up some of his offshore accounts and all the rest. He’s done nothing illegal, nothing unseemly, nothing improper, but lots that’s impolitic, and he’s now in the politics business. The cost of not releasing the returns is clear. Therefore, he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.” Amen, Comrade Will! And this all applies to former Governor Thompson, as well, given that the record will likely show just how much he profited off the government "excesses" that he now rails against so stridently.

  35. lute
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    lute - August 17, 2012 12:09 pm
    That is pretty much it. He was actually an embarrassment to the Bush/Cheney administration, which was quite an accomplishment.

    It is highly unlikely that any Democrat would even be considered as a candidate if he/she had a record like Tommy's. The Republicans just don't care- they just want to win...
  36. TopOfCenter
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    TopOfCenter - August 17, 2012 11:50 am
    The Left sure has a voyeuristic obsession with other people's tax returns. Too bad the Left didn't spend as much effort worrying about our country's fiscal situation as they do Romney's, Ryan's, and Thompson's--especially when it had Congress neatly wrapped with a House majority and filibuster-proof Senate.
  37. Solstice
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    Solstice - August 17, 2012 11:39 am
    Come on, notvanilla! Do you mean to tell me that if the positions were reversed, and it was Tammy Baldwin who was the one refusing to release her tax returns after Tommy Thompson released 10 years worth of his, that you wouldn't be all over Baldwin, asking what she is hiding, etc. etc.? It's similarly funny how people will respond to the whole Harry Reid/Mitt Romney tax thing and say, "Well, Harry Reid should release HIS taxes!" That's something for his own constituents to expect and demand and neither you nor I are his constituents... and Harry Reid isn't running for president! If he were, I'd expect the same from him as I expect from Romney: full disclosure.
  38. Bobby P
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    Bobby P - August 17, 2012 11:35 am
    This IS NOT THE OLD TOMMY in many ways. The OLD TOMMY would not have even considered selling his sole to the extreme right wing Tea Party finatics just to get a few votes. I didn't agree with the OLD TOMMY on a lot of things either, but he was at least a real Republican and not an old mutation...
  39. MTBlitz
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    MTBlitz - August 17, 2012 11:35 am
    Tammy released 10 years worth, this is what honest politicians with nothing to hide do.

  40. sarge
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    sarge - August 17, 2012 11:28 am
    the tommy you used to know was a problem drinking pay to play crook with some very talkitive young girlfriends on the side...so I wonder whats so different about him now?

    the only good thing you can say about tommy was that he actually wasn't enough of a crook to really fit in during his time in the bush administration...despite displaying a high level of incompitance which should have made him right at home with the bushies
  41. gunny1369
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    gunny1369 - August 17, 2012 11:22 am
    I'm more interrested in Obama's school records. Let him put his best foot forward and release them. Then I will hope Romney will release his records. I'm sure even Barrack's not telling the truth in his tax returns. Book deals, moneys from special interests, etc. They are all crooked. It's more about who can hide it the best.
  42. Nav
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    Nav - August 17, 2012 11:13 am
    I am sorry but when you are running for public office you have an obligation to release your taxes for the past 5 years so that people can know who they are voting for. Is this person one of the 99ers or one of the 1%? My guess is the only people who have a very hard time releasing their taxes are the 1 percenters. Any guesses why that is?

    The title of this article is "what happened to the Tommy we used to know"?. In reality, Tommy is what he has always been...an opportunist who will say and do whatever he needs to to win an election. Will he be as successful this go around? I doubt it but time will tell!
  43. notvanilla
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    notvanilla - August 17, 2012 11:10 am
    What is really interesting about this whole issue is: Why are Republican tax returns so important, but not Democrats? I have yet to see any MSM article asking for any Democrats tax returns. It's amazing to me because 60% of the richest politicians in Washington are Democrats. Why is alright for them to be rich and not Republicans? I have never understood that one. They got their money gouging the poor slave laborer just as much as the other guy. Will some of you liberals please explain this anomaly in your thinking? Where are Tammy's tax returns?
  44. Wis_BlogRider
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    Wis_BlogRider - August 17, 2012 10:48 am
    Scott Walker was quoted this morning "Wisconsin citizens tell him they don't care about seeing tax returns of people running for public office." Romney also issued another statement this morning that under no circumstances will he release his tax returns? Thompson signed the Norquist pledge and now won't share his tax returns? Does Tommy now have Swiss bank accounts? Does Tommy not want us to see the large amount of money he made from health insurance lobbyist? Wisconsin citizens, are these the type of people we can trust once elected as our president and senator?
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