Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin’s (D) campaign for U.S. Senate came out swinging Wednesday at opponent Tommy Thompson for newly unearthed remarks that he’d “do away” with Medicare and Medicaid, provoking a fierce response from the Republican.
“Tommy Thompson now says he wants to ‘do away with Medicare,’” Baldwin spokesman John Kraus told TPM. “He supports the Republican plan on Medicare that will provide billions in new profits for big insurance companies and a voucher for seniors instead of the guaranteed benefit they paid for. … It’s clear Tommy is not for Wisconsin anymore.”
Kraus swiped Thompson, formerly the state’s governor and President Bush’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, as a “quarterback for George W. Bush on a sweetheart deals for drug companies.”
In a statement to TPM, the Thompson campaign responded by saying Baldwin “would rather lie and demagogue the issues than put forth a credible plan,” declaring that Thompson “actually provides solutions to our nation’s problems.”
“In this video, Thompson was making the case for reforming Medicare so that we can protect it for current seniors and preserve it for future generations,” his spokeswoman Lisa Boothe said. “That is evidenced by his comments at the end of the video where he says he wants people to have a choice to either stay on Medicare as it is or give people another option.”
Boothe echoed the Republican dig that the Affordable Care Act would “remove $716 billion from [Medicare] to form a new entitlement.”
Video published late Tuesday by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel shows Thompson telling a conservative group in June that he supports the Republican plan to restructure Medicare from a guaranteed insurance program to a voucher system where seniors shop for their own plans.
“Who better than me,” he says, “who’s already finished one of the entitlement programs [welfare], to come up with programs to do away with Medicaid and Medicare?”
Baldwin currently leads Thompson by 10 points, according to the PollTracker average.
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.