Hon. Bill Thomas
Commission Vice Chairman
A member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 28 years, Bill Thomas has spent his career strengthening health care legislation, reducing tax burdens, advocating free and open trade and protecting workers' pensions.
Mr. Thomas continues his examination of substantial economic issues in search of coalition-building solutions through his work as a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a national think tank that brings together some of the country's most accomplished public policy experts.
As former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Thomas was responsible for reforming Medicare legislation, nearly $2 trillion in tax relief and reforms to the U.S. pension system. During his six years as chairman, Mr. Thomas helped the President attain trade promotion authority and guided seven free trade agreements through Congress, as well as leading efforts to implement international tax reforms to make U.S-based companies that operate abroad more competitive. He also created an energy tax package aimed at strengthening the nation's existing energy infrastructure while promoting alternative energy sources.
Prior to his election as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Thomas served as Chairman of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee where he was instrumental in the passage of the "Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996," as well as the author of the "Medicare Preservation Act." In 1998, he was appointed Administrative Chairman of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. He was also Chairman of the House Administration Committee from 1995-2001.
Throughout his congressional career, Mr. Thomas has been recognized for his fiscal conservatism.. He is a multiple recipient of the Golden Bulldog Award for fiscal restraint and has been honored by the National Tax-Limitation Committee for his fight against waste in government spending. Bill has been recognized by the National Federation of Independent Business as a "Guardian of Small Business" and has received the "Spirit of Enterprise" award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The League of Private Property Voters has honored him as a "Champion of Private Property."
Mr. Thomas and his wife, Sharon, have two grown children, Christopher and Amelia. He graduated from Santa Ana Community College and obtained both his bachelor and master degrees from San Francisco State University. Prior to being elected to Congress in 1978 to represent Bakersfield, CA, he began serving as a California state assemblyman in 1974. He was a Professor of Political Science at Bakersfield College from 1965-1974.