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Mike McFadden fences with reporters and ducks specifics

The GOP candidate for U.S. Senate dropped a few new hints of policy positions, but still evaded most efforts to pin him down.

I realize I've been beating this please-be-specific-Mr.-McFadden drum for a while now, but it's starting to catch on.
McFadden for Senate

Businessman-turned-Republican-U.S.-Senate-candidate Mike McFadden, who had not held a press conference since the day he announced his candidacy last summer and who has remained mostly mysterious about his policy positions, faced a roomful of reporters (not including me) Thursday, dropped a few new hints of policy positions, but still evaded most efforts to pin him down to specifics.

“I’ve been very specific,” he said. “I believe in limited but effective government.”

So if you favor unlimited but ineffective government, McFadden is not your man. But if you want to know specifically what new limits McFadden would put on the government, and how he would improve the effectiveness of what the limited government does, McFadden is not your man, at least not yet.

I realize I’ve been beating this please-be-specific-Mr.-McFadden drum for a while now, but it’s starting to catch on.

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Mark Zdechlik of MPR led his story from the media event: “Republican Mike McFadden called reporters to a news conference Thursday to talk about his plans to fight wasteful government spending, but when reporters started asking questions about other issues McFadden declined to offer specifics.” (I would add that he also declined to offer a specific plan to fight wasteful government, other than his plan to take from retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., the practice of publishing a “wastelist” to call attention to what he considers to be wasteful spending.)

The Strib’s Rachel Stassen-Berger story led with: “Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden on Thursday avoided giving specific ‘yes or no’ answers to a variety of issues confronting the U.S. Senate, saying instead that voters would know his philosophy.”

Views on health care

A goodly chunk of the fencing revolved around health-care issues. McFadden divulged:

a) That he refers to the Obamacare law as “the Unaffordable Care Act.”

b) That, yes, the U.S. health-care system has problems, but the difference between himself and most Democrats is that “they believe the federal government should solve the problems of health care. I don’t. I believe that the states should.”

c) That (possibly contradicting b) above) he approves of the Obamacare principle of making insurance more affordable for those with pre-existing conditions, but this will require some kind of a subsidy for them. He did not specify how the subsidy would work.

d) That the economy has been “going sideways” ever since Sen. Al Franken took office and that the reason for this is that businesses have not been hiring and that the reason for that is that they are “concerned about Obamacare.”

e) That one change he favors (although this obviously could not be done by the states) would be to make the federal tax code “agnostic” on health care. He has said this to me before but he expanded a bit Thursday. The current tax code gives preferential treatment to health-insurance premiums when they are bought for groups of employees by their employers but not when they are bought by individuals. He believes the same treatment should be available for individuals. As I understand this, it could undermine the basis for the current employer-based system, which is the source for most private health insurance. I don’t know whether McFadden agrees with that and, if so, whether that’s OK with him.

f) That MNsure is one of the three worst insurance networks set up by states that decided to create their own plan rather than joining the federal plan. (Maryland and Oregon were the other two.)

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Other issues

On other matters:

Asked how he would have voted on the Senate bill to raise the minimum wage, McFadden sidestepped by saying that having a minimum wage is “a very important safety net” but that it’s a problem to have a national minimum wage instead of state-by-state.

McFadden was also pressed on his abortion position, especially in light of the “personhood” movement that seeks to establish rights for the fetus immediately upon conception. He said he is pro-life with “reasonable exceptions,” which to him are pregnancies caused by rape or incest or those necessary to preserve the life of the mother. It’s unclear to me whether he believes that he can or would, as a senator, be able to move the line for states to ban abortion closer to conception than the current state of the U.S. Supreme Court doctrine under Roe v. Wade. During the discussion of abortion and “personhood,” McFadden said the public did not want the campaign to be about “divisive issues.”

If you’d like to listen to audio of the whole press conference, it’s appended to the Strib story here (which is how I was able to write this post without having been to the event).