News Story

Michigan 8th Congressional District GOP Primary Getting Feisty

Former Sen. Mike Bishop vs. State Rep. Tom McMillin

When it comes to major federal issues such as health care, energy plans and the role the government should have in banking and housing, Republicans Tom McMillin and Mike Bishop have very similar views.

Both are well-known conservatives running to replace U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Howell, for the 8th Congressional District seat. Rogers is retiring.

Bishop was the Senate Majority Leader under former Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Since leaving office, Bishop has been the chief legal officer for International Bancard Corp. and is an adjunct professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

McMillin was elected to his third term in the Michigan House of Representatives in 2012.

Both candidates are opposed to Obamacare and prefer a market-based insurance plan. Both candidates support U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s “premium support” plan on Medicare. The premium support plan allows seniors the choice of a private plan that competes alongside the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program on a newly created Medicare Exchange. Medicare would provide a premium-support payment to pay for or offset the premium of the plan chosen by the senior. 

“I believe we can make health care more affordable and accessible without putting the federal government in charge of Americans’ health care decisions,” Bishop said. “We need patient-centered, free-market policies that will strengthen competition. I also believe that we must simplify our tax code in order to keep people’s hard-earned money in the private sector in order to help stimulate the economy.”

McMillin said he would support a plan that provides more choice to those on Medicare.

“I would prefer health care and health insurance policy be sent to the states,” McMillin said. “If a state wanted to try a more socialized Romneycare kind of plan, they could do that — though I think they would pay a price as businesses and citizens left to go to states with a more market-based system.”

The charter of the Export-Import Bank of the United States expires September of 2014. Neither candidate supports extending it.

The Ex-Im Bank is the export credit agency of the U.S. and helps with the financing for overseas companies in buying of U.S. exports. Because the bank gives special subsidies to select companies that the private market will not, it has faced criticism from free-market advocates.

“U.S. taxpayers should not be strapped with the default risks on loans that certain select businesses have,” McMillin said. “It’s a clear case of corporate welfare.”

Bishop said there needs to be less government intervention and more of a focus on private-sector solutions.

Bishop said he supports expanding all sources of American energy and supports an “all-of-the-above” energy policy.

“We must have a new policy in this country that focuses on safely using American innovation and American natural resources to create millions of jobs, bring down the cost of energy and make America independent from overseas oil,” Bishop said. “Subsidies only add to distort the market creating an uneven playing field that leads to increased prices.”

McMillin said all forms of safe energy production should be allowed.

“But I support ending the subsidies and tax credits to special interest energy sectors,” he said. “We must stop distorting the free market and stop the government from picking winners and losers.”

McMillin said he would support ending all ethanol subsidies and mandates.

“Again, I oppose government picking winners and losers, which due to political influence rarely pick the best option,” McMillin said.

Bishop said he would allow the ethanol subsidies to expire, “while understanding the importance of finding an alternative source of energy that will lead to energy independence.”

Both candidates are also against having the federal government play a major role in the home loan industry.

Each candidate has criticized the other for various votes in the past.

McMillin said that Bishop has a long voting record of supporting the government picking “winner and losers” with various economic development programs.

“I am the House leader in opposing corporate welfare and government subsidies that usually end up costing the tax payers millions more than any benefit to the state,” McMillin said. “My opponent voted for all of these corporate subsidies paid for by Michigan taxpayers, such wind power, film subsidies …”

As Senate Speaker, Bishop did stand against then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Democratic Leader of the House Andy Dillon in 2009 against another tax hike. Gov. Granholm eventually signed the 2010 budget but said the cuts were too deep and she didn’t agree with it or support it. 

Bishop said he has a record of persuading Democrats to cut government.

“My opponent does not,” Bishop said. “During my time in the Michigan Legislature, I built a record on finding solutions; working with Republicans and Democrats to achieve tangible, conservative reforms. My opponent has spent many years either being unable or unwilling to work with either side of the aisle to get things done. It takes more to achieve reforms than voting ‘no’ out of principle.”

McMillin, however, has worked with the ACLU as well as House and Senate Democrats to provide better lawyers to people who couldn’t afford attorneys. 

“If you had told me during my Christian Coalition years that I’d be working with the ACLU, I would have called you crazy,” McMillin said in an MLive story. “But when you’re working on something you feel strongly about, you can work with groups that you normally wouldn’t agree with."

Editor's note: Michigan Capitol Confidential will be reporting and writing about key primary races leading up to the election on Aug. 5. The series of stories are designed to provide readers with some insight into candidates who have said they support free market issues. The stories are not endorsements and readers are encouraged to give every candidate a serious look before the election.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.