Monday, May 7, 2007

Fred Thompson's Positions On The Issues

At the NY Sun, Ryan Sager writes:

Project Vote Smart, which compiles voting records and other background materials on politicians, has finally put up its page on Fred Thompson (OK, maybe "finally" isn't exactly the fairest word when Mr. Thompson hasn't even announced for president — but I've been eager to see it).

Anyway, it seems Mr. Thompson filled out a survey for Project Vote Smart back in 1994, when he was running for Senate. While it's mostly pretty predictable (boo foreign aid, yay low taxes), there are a few parts worth scrutinizing... (see: abortion, education, AIDS)

* Under health care: Mr. Thompson's already gotten in a scrape with National Review for not supporting federal medical malpractice reform while in Congress. In this survey, he notes his opposition to it — so, at least he was consistent. He also declined to check the box supporting deregulation of private health care.

* Under unemployment: He doesn't support Jack Kemp-style "enterprise zones," with low taxes to attract businesses, in urban areas.

* Under trade: He does not support expanding NAFTA to the rest of Latin America. He does, however, want to open up markets on the Pacific Rim.

* Under education: He does not support nationwide standards, such as those that would later be included in No Child Left Behind. He does, on the other hand, support vouchers. (He also declined to check the box for "Eliminate the U.S. Department of Education." Back in 1994, plenty of Republicans still did want to eliminate it. Some of us would still like to do so today.)

* Under abortion: He checked the box for: "Abortions should be legal in all circumstances as long as the procedure is completed within the first trimester of the pregnancy." He did, however, support a number of restrictions on abortion: requiring parental notification, allowing states to impose waiting periods, and eliminating all federal funding of abortion. Lastly, he said Congress should leave legislation on abortion to the states.

* Under minimum wage: He said he was undecided.

* Under spending priorities: He said one thing that really stands out: He would slightly decrease funding for AIDS research — along with foreign aid and job retraining. Conservatives, of course, typically oppose foreign aid and job retraining. But I doubt there was some specific judgment made here by Mr. Thompson that too much was being spent on AIDS research. This seems more like a pure sop to reflexive anti-gay bigotry in the Republican Party. I haven't seen a lot of such pandering from Mr. Thompson (he's taken a cultural-federalism approach to social issues so far in his proto-campaign). But this strikes me as a relevant data point.