Republican U.S. House candidate Michael Cassidy is distancing himself from policy proposals on health care and family spending plans after drawing criticism from conservative opposition. After an upset first-place finish in June 7’s Republican primary for Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District, he will face GOP incumbent Rep. Michael Guest in a Republican primary runoff Tuesday.
The Guest campaign has struck hard at the expansive policies previously detailed on Cassidy’s issues page, highlighting their significant cost. Cassidy’s original proposals, which are still visible on an archived copy of his website, included support for large-scale spending on social welfare, including a plan that identified health care as an American right.
“We are the wealthiest nation in the world and basic health care should be a dividend of being a citizen in our nation,” Cassidy’s issues page previously read. “I support allowing all citizens to enroll in Medicare, regardless of age. Medicare needs reform, but Americans should not feel obligated to stick with a bad job solely to have health care benefits,” it continued.
Denies That Ideas Were a ‘Plan’
In a June 23, 2022, interview with the Mississippi Free Press, Cassidy denied that the text on his campaign website ever constituted a plan, or that the ideas were comparable to proposals like those of progressive U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“That was a rough draft,” Cassidy said. “To call it a plan of mine is a mischaracterization of the Guest campaign. It was never a plan, I never campaigned on it, and it was not Medicare For All.”
In a statement, Cassidy’s campaign explained further. “Just after I filed to run in late February I briefly considered allowing anyone to purchase Military TriCare/Medicare if they desired, just like what we have in the military and what I have had for years,” Cassidy wrote. “Within a week or two I determined that this would cost too much money, and that there were more conservative options.”
In the interview, Cassidy acknowledged the need for health-care reform, but offered significantly more modest policies to address them. “We need to stop nuisance lawsuits that drive doctors’ insurance costs up, which then drives the cost of patient care up,” he said.
Cassidy also suggested allowing individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines, and allowing drugs to market if they have been tested in other “first world, trusted countries,” without the need for “duplicative processes” in the U.S.
‘Doctrine of Equity’
This reporter pressed Cassidy on the principles undergirding the policies that had once been on his website, which appeared to frustrate the candidate.
Was he still open to material assistance to families and individuals when it comes to health care?
“No,” Cassidy said. “I’m not for what has been described as my plan.”
Cassidy’s website also claimed that the “doctrine of equity has infected health systems across the nation, and some of these providers have refused to give treatment to white Americans simply due to their race” and called for jailing health care providers “who refuse to administer care to American citizens due to the color of their skin.”
The runoff candidate reiterated that this health-equity statement was also not a part of his platform, and said that he believed the plank was related to COVID-19 treatments, but did not have the information readily at hand.
What about his earlier proposal to provide $20,000 checks to newlyweds, paid back if the couple divorces? The campaign has also scrubbed it from his platform, with Cassidy now adopting policies more typical of his party’s agenda. Still, he defended the impulse.
“I am horrified by our nation’s long-term trends of declining family formation, out-of-wedlock births, and decreased fertility rates,” Cassidy wrote in his initial response. “I initially put forward some ideas to arrest this by creating incentives to offset the many government-created costs of starting and raising a family.”
The candidate’s issues page before the June primary said he supported “five, yes five years” of “maternal leave benefits” and giving married citizens “250/month stipend for children under 10, and $500/month for children 10-17.”
But supporters had since helpfully chimed in to steer him in a different direction, Cassidy wrote. “I received a lot of helpful feedback from supporters on how to improve this in a way to avoid creating further government dependency.”
‘This Is a Waste of Time’
This reporter asked Cassidy about the notion of financial support to new families, and especially the idea that such assistance should be repaid in the event of a divorce.
“It’s not part of my platform and this is a waste of time,” he shot back.
But can—should—government intervene to present more hurdles to divorce?
“This is not my platform,” Cassidy responded again. What he does support, the candidate said, was income-tax deductions: expanding the child tax deduction up from $3,600 to $10,000—in the case of “working families not currently receiving government assistance.”
This reporter asked Cassidy what support low-income families could expect, in light of the limited impact of income-tax reduction on low-earners.
“We need to look at what we can do,” Cassidy said. “We’ll develop that plan further.” Asked what possibilities he was currently considering, Cassidy repeated himself. “We’ll certainly be looking at that more in-depth as the campaign season progresses,” he said. “But there’s nothing new that I’m proposing.”