Tuesday, 03 October 2023

Thompson outlines agenda for 2007

Speaking to Lake County News from his Washington, D.C. office between votes on Friday, Thompson was in the midst of his second day back to work as the 110th Congress convened Jan. 4.

On Thursday, he said, he took part in voting for Nancy Pelosi, the House's first female speaker, and a person for whom he offered a lot of praise.

“She's fantastic,” Thompson said. “She's incredibly bright. Her entire existence is based on hope and opportunity for the country.”

Thompson called her “one of the more intelligent people you'll ever have a chance to interact with,” both from policy and political perspectives.

“She's going to be a speaker for the entire House and the entire country,” he said.

Looking at the year ahead, Thompson said he's very focused on the Democrats' “first 100 hours agenda.”

That agenda is a series of issues that include implementing recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, increasing the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 (Democrats say they'll do this through a three-step, phased increase), providing funding for stem cell research, requiring the government to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices, making college more affordable by cutting interest rates on student loans, investing in renewable energy, addressing concerns with Iran and North Korea, and the Iraq war.

Another part of the package, ethics reform, passed on the House floor Friday, he reported.

Thompson also serves on the prestigious Ways and Means Committee, which has the responsibility for raising the funds to run the federal government and, among other things, oversees trade and tariffs and social programs, such as Social Security.

“My focus on that committee has been mostly health care,” he said.

Thompson noted he's particularly interested in looking at rural under served areas: how to address recruiting medical personnel, reimbursement for hospitals and doctors in those areas, and making telemedicine services – such as connecting doctors in rural areas with specialists at major hospitals via computer – more accessible.

Concerning his own personal legislative interests, Thompson said he is pursuing ways to address the e-waste issue, including the ever-growing numbers of obsolete computers and what can be done with them.

“I suspect that we'll have some good success with that this year,” he said.

Thompson also named climate change as a priority, and said he plans in the future to introduce bills on ways to address the issue.

Besides all of those plans, one issue looms, the Iraq war. “Certainly the No. 1 issue is going to be the Iraq war and getting our troops home as quickly and safely as we can,” he said.

“I”m all for bringing them home yesterday,” said Thompson, acknowledging that “it's going to be a tough go.”

That's because of President Bush's plans to send more troops into the region, Thompson said, which is in complete contrast to what his generals have been stating is necessary.

Thompson said Bush had claimed he would do what the generals wanted to do, and that the generals have reported that an increase in troops won't help with the insurgency. Now, however, Bush is going forward with the new troop plan and replacing the generals who gave opposite advice.

“I guess he's consistent,” Thompson said. “Only 70 percent of the people are against him on this.

“People recognize that we shouldn't have gone in, we went in incorrectly, and we've been there too long,” Thompson added. “It doesn't seem to me that this administration is listening.”

Thompson weighed in on other issues in the news recently, including:

- Saddam Hussein's execution.

“I share the same concern as others as far as what this is going to do in Iraq,” he said.

Those advising against Hussein's rapid execution were right, he said, as it appears that revenge by the Shiites played a large part.

“I think Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, he should have been executed, but we went about it incorrectly,” said Thompson.

- The legacy of President Gerald Ford.

Thompson, who said he had met Ford, missed Ford's Washington funeral services, arriving in the city after Ford's body had been transported to Michigan.

As to the recent reexamination of the how justified Ford's pardon of President Richard Nixon was, Thompson said, “I think at the time he was probably right. The country needed to be healed.”

He added, “I think we'll always be wondering if, in the long run, it was the right thing to do.”

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..





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