Welcome Congressman Brad Miller,live blog

Brad Miller holds a special place in the hearts of those of us at BlueNC. Early in our history he agreed to blog his response to the President's 2006 State of the Union Address. BlueNC had only been around a few months, so we were flattered he would take the time to post here.

Congressman Miller is a true progressive. Back in June, I wrote this about him in a diary a DailyKos:

Many of you have read the diaries written by Representative Brad Miller from North Carolina. You know that he gets science. You know he supports the blogging community and was part of a panel at Yearly Kos. You know he's a progressive and you probably know he's just a great guy - very honest, very smart and very genuine. What you might not know about Brad Miller is something that many of you will think is trivial, but I think is vitally important.

Have you heard the saying that 80% of success is just showing up? Well, Brad Miller shows up to vote. Every. Single. Time. He is one of only 5 representatives in the U.S. House that has bothered to show up for every single vote during the 109th Congress.

He brings high ethical and moral standards to his job - something that has been sorely lacking in the Republican House.

Please follow below the fold...

I'm pleased that Congressman Miller agreed to answer our questions and to give us so much of his time this morning.

I will post questions from previous threads for those who are not able to be here this morning. Please, give Congressman Miller time to respond and as always, please keep it civil.

I'm going to lob the congressman a softball to start things off. He will join us in the comments in a few minutes.

SD's question: Congressman Miller, I've made a big deal out of your perfect voting record. How much more difficult will it be to maintain that record now that your work week is going to actually look more like a work week?


Welcome Congressman Miller

Is everyone ready with their questions?

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I no sooner read your diary here...

about my perfect attendance than I missed a vote on some procedural issue. Most members make most of the votes unless they're sick or have some family crisis. My attendance record in my first term was less impressive, and I was in the bottom half, maybe the bottom quartile of attendance. Almost all of the missed votes were because I was on a congressional delegation to Iraq.

I'm glad you think I'm doing you a big favor to be here for a couple of hours. This week is pretty dead. If I weren't live blogging here, I'd probably just be watching soap operas and eating bonbons.

You owe me a keyboard

Spew warning next time.

Hmmmm.....you missed a procedural vote. That might knock you down a few notches.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Key votes

SD, are Mac keyboards going to be more expensive than your old PC?

I haven't priced them

I am down to my last Dell keyboard in the top of my closet. I literally did have to replace one after one of your comments a while back. I spilled my drink I was laughing so hard.

I have replaced 4 keyboards total this past year - all from spills....different reasons for the spills, though and not all my fault. Fortunately, I had a supply of keyboards. I harvest organs from dead computers. :)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Speaking of bon bons

Some of us ride bikes to work. Would you consider helping push the bicycle commuter actto give some of us riders some relief like is given to bus and carpoolers. It's expesive to buy special winter gear. And plus we don't pollute unless I rip one on the way down the road.

aspy asks:

I noticed that you are a member of the Autism Caucus, and as such I was wondering whether you would be willing to cosponsor bills like HR1107, To amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to provide full funding for assistance for education of all children with disabilities?

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I remember your question from one of the earlier threads,

but I did not get a chance to ask my staff in Washington about the bill. I imagine that the bill simply didn't come to our attention as something to consider co-sponsoring. When the bill is introduced again in the new Congress, call Heather Parsons in my DC office and mention it to her. The number is (202) 225-3032. Her e-mail is heather.parsons[at]mail.house.gov.

Heather's background is that she was an occupational therapist for one of the school systems in Northern Virginia (although originally from Eden), so she knows IDEA pretty well. When you're talking with Heather about autism and IDEA, you're not preaching to the choir, you're preaching to the clergy.

I'll make sure this gets passed along

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Welcome Rep Miller

A commenter on Daily Kos had this question for you:

Miller's election is one small step for Democracy, one important step for America. Congrats

I cannot attend the live blogging, but I would like to hear Miller's ideas on getting out of Iraq and standing up to Bush if he proposes to do anything but start the withdrawal.

I welcome your thoughts.

It is hard to direct a war from Congress, and the Constitution made the President the Commander-in-Chief. Also, the President speaks for us in international diplomacy.

I've been a critic of the war since before the invasion, as you probably already know. David Price and I introduced a resolution last year that would require the President to present to Congress a statement setting forth the mission in Iraq, describing what remains to be done, and setting forth about how long it will take. In other words, don't just say "stay the course," tell us what the course is. And tell us about how long it will take. Give us an exit strategy and some kind of time line.

I wrote an op-ed in the News and Observer just a couple of Sundays ago that called again on the President to do that.

When I visited Iraq more than three years ago, our tops guys there were really pretty candid. When I visited a little more than a year ago, they were amazingly scripted.

What they said three years ago was that the Iraqi people saw the need for the United States military to be there to maintain some kind of order after the fall of the Hussein regime, but at the same time resented our presence as a foreign occupying army on their soil. The longer we stayed, the officials said, the more that nationalistic (they actually said "xenophobic")resentment would grow until it overwhelmed anything we could achieve by remaining. Our officials said we needed to get done whatever we could in a year or two.

And here we are more than three years later.

I've supported the recommendation of the Iraq Study Group to engage in regional diplomacy, also working with David Price on that. Unfortunately, that was the first recommendation that the Bush Administration rejected, even though Iran and Syria have obviously made clients of the warring sects in Iraq and need to be part of any effort to control the sectarian violence.

Nancy Pelosi has said Congress will urge withdrawal but not deny funding as the mechanism for doing so, and I agree that denying funding does seem a pretty blunt tool.

But Congress needs to find some way to require a different course in Iraq.

Oh wait, the President will be announcing a new policy shortly. Let's all hold our breath.

So, to sum up Iraq position

Do I have this right?

You favor, as laid out in the ISG's report, negotiating with Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel for help in stabilizing Iraq. You lean towards withdrawal of our troops but not through the use of cutting off military funding for the operation.

It sounds like you're busy seeking a way to further stabilization, get the troops out, and create a more cooperative environment in the middle east.

Since it doesn't seem that Bush will heed the ISG (or anyone else for that matter), what steps can Congress take to deter the President from escalating the conflict by adding 30,000 more troops?

Also, is all of this talk of buildup/surge just a smokescreen for a military op against Iran?

Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us


Rep. Miller, it's a pleasure to have you here. As I said in my announcement of this event at my home blog, it's shows grace and openness whenever an elected representative meets the electorate in this new medium. We're glad you're taking advantage of this event to dialogue with us.

Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us

I'm glad Larry is up for another try.

I think he'll get more "institutional support" next time, and I hope he'll keep the same grassroots energy. The DCCC and everyone else is bound to have Larry's race at the top of the target list next time.

Question on Health Care

Since 1994's Republican revolution and the political death of Hillary Clinton's ambitious health care proposals, Washington has fiddled while the health care crisis has deepened and widened.

Two proposals for reforming our broken health care system are out and available for consideration:

Center for American Progress' "Progressive Prescription for a Healthy America" and Senator Ron Wyden's "Healthy Americans Act".

Have you read either/both of these proposals? What specific parts do you favor? Do you have your own plan or are you working on a plan that you can give us insight into?

Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us


I'm in favor of Conyers Medicare expansion act, your thoughts on that as well.

NC Defend Health Care

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

I agree with Ezra Klein's op-ed this morning...

in the News and Observer. (Okay it was originally in the L.A. Times, but we're all happy to be living out here in the provinces, even if we get stuff a couple of days later.)

Something's got to give. It's almost impossible to imagine that the way we pay for health care will be the same in 2015 or 2020.

I don't think many members of Congress really understand how hateful the health care finance system is to deal with. If you've gotten terrifying news from your doctor, you better plan to spend a couple of days in voice mail jail getting the treatment approved by your insurer. And health care providers hate it as much as their patients do.

The gauntlet patients and providers have to run is not lowering our health care costs, it's increasing them. As Klein pointed out, health care costs here are dramatically higher than other developed nations.

Regular folks want a change and increasingly so does corporate America. Paying for health care as an employee benefit is increasingly a burden in international competition, and "labor costs" are continuing to go up from the employer's perspective while wages are stagnant from the employee's.

The 2008 presidential campaign should provide us a real debate about what our options are. As Klein said, the debate is quickly becoming one about how the health care finance system should be drastically changed, not whether it needs to be.

Tough question on health care....

This comes from the question thread....

Will you sign on as a co-sponsor of House Resolution 676 by Rep. John Conyers, United States National Health Insurance Act?

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

US Senate

On a scale of 1 to 10, where "1" means there's no chance you'll run, how would you rate the probability that you'll go after Elizabeth Dole's seat in 08?

If less than "5", who would you like to see run instead?

How many roads must a man walk down?


PS I'm serious about those first two.

Oh, is that seat up in 2008?

Actually, I knew that already. I'll get back to this question in a little while.

Iraq Troops

I know you are in favor of bringing the US troops home from Iraq sooner, rather than later. Dennis Kucinich has called for pulling the troops out of Iraq now. Would you support a Congressional measures to stop funding the war as a means of getting the troops out of harms way and letting the Iraqi's deal with the civil war themselves?

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only UNPATRIOTIC and servile, but it is morally treasonable to the American public.

Politicians are like diapers. They should be changed frequently, and for the same reasons.

Todd asks this question:

Rep Miller,
Your seat was awarded to NC after the 2000 Census, seat number 435 as divvied up after the big headcount. Some in Utah have disputed that action, claiming that they should have received the 435th seat.

Now there is a bill to increase the size of the House of Representative to 437, awarding one seat to DC and one to Utah. After the 2010 Census, DC would keep it's seat and Utah's would go into the big pot with the other 435 to be divvied up again. What is your position on this bill? What is your position on statehood for DC?

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Welcome Rep Miller...

I read yesterday that the Pentagon is encouraging the White House to ask for an additional $99.7 billion for the Iraq war, this on top of the over $350,000,000,000 already wasted in this illegal war, will you vote for this ?

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Yes, but it's slow.

I've been a little slow in my responses, and the site's been slow too. I hope that's because traffic is heavier than usual.

Yes, but we have a lot of visitors here for Rep. Miller

That's slowing things down a bit, I guess. Hang in there and maybe it will pick up soon. It started right at 9am.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I'm sorry for the slowness of the site

I just received a few emails from friends who are having trouble getting in at all. Keep trying. Representative Miller will be here until 11:00. Thanks, everyone.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I can put off...

watching soaps and eating bonbons for a little while. I'll stay past 11:00 if need be.

Softball Questions!

I'm cross posting these powderpuffs mainly b/c I like you Rep. Miller and everyone else gets softballs, so why can't you? ;)

First let me say I'm very sorry I did not give more time to you and your campaign. My girlfriend and I live in Five Points, that lovely little Blue bastion, and decided however to help out more with Larry Kissel's campaign. However I am so glad I don't have to regret my decision other than we could not help Mr. Kissel win in the end.

Now I have 2 questions for you!

1- What are you going to do about Net Neutrality? Now that Democrats control both the House and the Senate (for today) are we going to see laws enacted to help permenently protect the freedom of having equal and fair access to the Internet? I would encourage you, as one of the orginal blogger/internet politicans to embrace the goodness of the Web, to take a lead in this issue as we control Congress and as the Telecom Co.'s strike back against it.

2- What are we, as intelligent open minded people, going to do about this rash of Anti-Muslim attacks against US elected officals we saw two weeks ago? Recently we've seen Mr. Ellison elected to Congress as our 1st Muslim American Representative. And we well probably see Barack Obama run for President, who has Hussien as a middle name. We've seen attacks from US Congressmen/women, Media talking heads such as Glen Bleck, and other citizens on these people solely b/c they have Muslim ties.

What, as the real Big Tent Party, can we do about this? This is not so much a policy question, but one of our nation's soul.

I feel that we are living in a new age of bigotry and hate after 9/11 that will change the course of our country forever, if we do not act. How would you have us move diplomatically in our international relations with Muslim nation-states to improve sentiments abroad and at home?

Our children need to know that some people fought back, when others collaborated.

Our children need to know that some people fought back, when others collaborated.

One of my great regrets...

is that I could not do more to help Larry because of the insane campaign I found myself in. If there is a way I could give him 340 or so of my votes, I would.

As to net neutrality, I'm not certain the status of that issue. The bill that would have allowed internet service providers to distinguish between content providers, and create fast lanes and slow lanes on the internet, did not pass the Senate. There are great advocates for net neutrality on the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiciton of the issue: Ed Markey, Rick Boucher, Tammy Baldwin. I expect to hear from them about what needs to be done.

I agree with you about the bigotry now directed at Muslim-Americans. I held my hand on a King James Version of the Bible when I was sworn in as a legislator (Congress does not use bibles for the official swearing-in ceremony) because it was sacred to me, to impress upon myself and others the seriousness with which I should regard the oath. I cannot imagine having to use the sacred text of someone else's religion. I think it would have the opposite of the desired effect: the person swearing the oath would not regard the oath as sacred.

The Atlantic had an issue recently with several articles about why the United States had not had another terrorist attack since 9/11. One article said that a significant reason was that Muslim-Americans were patriotic Americans, and did not support or give sanctuary to terrorists as the Muslim communities in some European nations had.

Exactly Right

I cannot imagine having to use the sacred text of someone else's religion. I think it would have the opposite of the desired effect: the person swearing the oath would not regard the oath as sacred.

Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us

Science question

Another question from a Kos commenter:

I know a while back he asked for any accounts from scientists who were feeling pressured from their superiors to supress findings if they didn't match up with what the Bush administration was trying to force down our throats.

How's the progress on that? Has he gotten complaints that he can take action on in the new Congress that will help protect scientists and researchers from political intimidation?

(I plan to be one of those researchers in a couple years, so this concerns me.)

We're still collecting accounts of intimidation.

The Science Committee will have a new subcommittee next year, an Investigations and Oversight subcommittee. Yes, it will have subpoena power.

I will no likely chair that subcommittee next year, unfortunately, but I expect to remain active on the issue. You can still send e-mails confidentially to heather.parsons[at]mail.house.gov with any examples of research being quelched or manipulated because of political considerations.

With regards to the Science Committee..

Will the committee be able to hold hearings on the development and use of alternative and 'green' energy sources as a way of weaning the US off (mid-east) oil dependence?

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only UNPATRIOTIC and servile, but it is morally treasonable to the American public.

Politicians are like diapers. They should be changed frequently, and for the same reasons.

Yes, and I feel confident that we will.

I actually have a shot at chairing that subcommittee. I'm also working on legislation, not just hoping for hearings, to encourage the development of alternative energy and energy efficient technologies. We actually have technologies that would help that we aren't using. The term is "state of the shelf" technology. I got an amendment into the energy bill a couple of years ago to encourage the use of energy efficient technolgies, but I have not been able to get the proposal the necessary funding. I think I can change that next year.

I'm going to like being in the majority.

This is fun!

Thanks again for being here, Rep. Miller. It's exciting to watch democracy happen like this. Your ability to juggle disparate topics while exercising your hurried typing skills is admiarble and appreciated.

Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us

Question about PayDay Lending

Blue South left this question in an earlier thread:

There was a big discussion about payday lending on here a while ago. Do you have any plans or introducing legislation aimed at curbing these disgusting predators now that we have a Democratic Majority to get the bill passed?

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

The Pentagon issued a report this summer...

on the effect of payday lending and other predatory lending practices on our military and their families. They found that predatory lending practices were affecting morale and combat readiness, and financial desperation was compromising the security clearances of military personnel caught in a cycle of predatory loans. Congress passed a 36 percent interest rate cap on loans to military personnel in response to the Pentagon study.

I am glad Congress acted to protect our men and women in uniform from predation, but why are we not providing the same protections to all Americans?

For the four years I've been in Congress, consumer groups and civil rights groups concerned with predatory lending practices have been trying to take the fight to the state level, and avoid involvement by Congres, assuming (probably correctly) that anything Congress passed would do consumers more harm than good. My efforts on predatory mortgage lending began as a defensive effort to keep Congress from passing legislation that would create intentionally ineffective consumer protections and prevent states like North Carolina from enforcing their own stronger consumer protections.

But after years of playing defense, the offensive team may take the field next week.

A question from Leslie H

The 2.3 trillion dollars of Pentagon money that is unaccounted for or "dissappeared" ... what happened to the investigation? ($1billion plundered from Iraq'a defense ministry alone, according to Patrick Cockburn.) Does anybody know where the money went? Did the Bush Administration succeed in getting rid of the investigator who was on that case? Can you tell us anything about this?

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I'm not sure...

but I know my friend Henry Waxman, the new chairman of the Government Reform Committee, is going to ask those questions next year with the aid of subpoena power and sworn testimony.

Welcome to the Democratic majority.

Subpoena power

Oh my! I get chills just thinking about it.....and I'm not in the least bit vindictive.

Oh, wait...yes, I am.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Southerndemafil Citrate

Ethics reform has been suffering from subpoenile dysfunction in recent years. Hopefully there will be a cure in the new Congress now that Dole is no longer spokesperson.

George Pence asks this about ethics reform:

Much has been made of the Republican culture of corruption. The Democrats are now in a great position to do meaningful ethics reform in Congress. There are two key initiatives that are necessary for genuine reform. I would like to know how you stand on each of these proposals...

1. The establishment of an Independent Office of Public Integrity that would sit outside the House Ethics Committee. The powers of the Independent Office of Public Integrity would at best be advisory to the House Ethics Committee, but its words would carry great weight and ensure that, at a minimum, the American public would have a trustworthy yardstick by which to judge the actions of its representatives.

2. Action on the use of earmarks which divert funding to a Congressman's pet projects, or the pet projects of those who contribute to the Congressman's campaigns. Are you for the outright elimination of earmarks? If you aren't, would you support legislation that would not only disclose the sponsor and recipient of an earmark, but also limit the number and amount that can be spent on earmarks?

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Budget Busters

Representative Miller,
Thanks for joining us today.

The GOP Congress squandered the budget surpluses left by the Clinton Administration. The national debt has risen by $3 trillion in just 6 years, with no end in sight. How will the Democratic Congress restore some semblance of balance to the federal budget? What changes to tax policy do you support?