Name as it appears on the ballot: Brad Miller
Date of birth: 05-19-1953
Campaign website: www.bradmiller.org
Occupation & employer: Member of Congress, U.S. House of Representatives
1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing your U.S. House district, the state of North Carolina and the nation? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?
We need to build an economy that creates prosperity for the middle class and the people working to climb into the middle class, not just the richest Americans. That requires a government not in the tank for business interests.
We need to extract ourselves from Iraq, repair the damage to our relationships with other nations, and reclaim our moral authority in international affairs.
We need to protect the environment before the worlds climate changes catastrophically.
I have focused my efforts in Congress to the issues on which I am in a position to take the lead.
My first priority in Congress has been protecting homeowners from predatory mortgage lending. Abuses in mortgage lending will likely result in 2.2 million American families losing their homes to foreclosure in the next two years. Every foreclosure means a family is falling out of the middle class into poverty. I am the lead sponsor of legislation to crack down on abusive lending practices in the mortgage industry, a version of which I first introduced more than five years ago. I am also the lead sponsor of legislation to provide emergency relief to homeowners facing foreclosure by giving bankruptcy courts the power to modify mortgages on home loans. The law now allows bankruptcy judges to modify mortgages on vacation homes and yachts, but not home mortgages.
Second, plant closings and job losses are ravaging the economic security of millions of North Carolinians. The Bush Administration has not even tried to stand up for American workers, or considered the effect on middle class workers in promoting free trade agreements with no labor or environmental protections.
Our future depends on having the most skilled workforce in the world, and that requires a commitment both to formal education and to on-the-job training. As Co-Chair of the Community College Caucus, I will continue to look for ways to re-train our workforce after so many factory closings in North Carolina.
Finally, I am Chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight on the House Committee on Science and Technology, which has handled a variety of investigations into the manipulation of science, secrecy, and abuse of power. Here are two examples of investigations the subcommittee has conducted:
- Revealing Airline Safety Secrets—NASA spent more than $11 million dollars on a survey of airline pilots to identify aviation safety problems. The survey found that runway incidents and mechanical failures occurred at a much higher rate than government estimates. But NASA withheld the survey results because it would undermine public confidence in the airlines and hurt airline profits.
- Ending a $63 Million Boondoggle for Taxpayers—Congress spent more than $63 million in earmarks on an experimental aircraft that has never flown more than a few feet and that the Pentagon doesnt want or need. Supporters of the flawed aircraft failed this year to win further earmarks for the plane after our hearing.
- Protecting Katrina Survivors From Formaldehyde Fumes—FEMA minimized the health effects of exposure to formaldehyde fumes in FEMAs Katrina trailers, and the Center for Disease Control was eager to please FEMA in assessing the risk. After harsh criticism, FEMA and the CDC announced they would move occupants from the trailers into other housing immediately.
For more information on the work of the subcommittee, go to science.house.gov/subcommittee/oversight.aspx.
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective in the House of Representatives? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.
I was elected the Chair of the Wake Democratic Party in 1985.
In 1992, I was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives, where I served two years. I was elected to the North Carolina Senate in 1996, where I served six years. As a member of the state legislature, I wrote North Carolinas safe gun storage law, which dramatically curbed juvenile gun deaths. I also introduced legislation to expand North Carolinas domestic violence law; to reduce air pollution from cars and trucks; to limit the influence of political patronage in state government hiring; and to protect consumers from dishonest automobile mechanics.
I was elected to Congress in 2002. I now serve as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the Science and Technology Committee. I also serve on the Financial Services and Foreign Affairs Committees.
I have also been an active community volunteer for a variety of organizations.
3. How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
My positions, especially on the issues on which I have taken a leadership role, are generally considered progressive, but I am not reflexively so and I have not joined the Progressive Caucus. I am moderate on some issues, but not the economic issues on which the New Democrats are moderate. I am conservative on some issues, but Im not a Blue Dog. I am a New Deal Democrat. I think government is a useful tool to constrain excess and improve the lives of ordinary Americans, and I favor experimentation and a willingness to adjust course frequently depending on how well the experiment is working.
4. The Independents mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle and North Carolina. Please point to a specific position in your platform that would, if achieved, help further that goal.
The inequality of wealth is even greater in America than the inequality in income. I have favored regulation to protect consumers from lending practices that strip wealth from them, while maintaining access to credit that helps Americans build wealth.
5. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
How about principled stands Ive taken in the past:
In 1993 I chaired a North Carolina House subcommittee on school violence. I wrote North Carolinas safe gun storage law, which was anathema to the NRA and more extreme groups, such as Grassroots North Carolina.
In 1997, I refused to agree to an amendment to North Carolinas domestic violence law to limit the law to relationships between persons of the opposite sex, and I spoke against the amendment on the Senate floor.
In March of 2003, when public support for the invasion of Iraq was overwhelming, I wrote constituents that I thought the reasons given for invading Iraq were unpersuasive and contrived, and that we would more likely precipitate a civil war in Iraq than be greeted as liberators.
6. The U.S. has been fighting the war in Iraq for five years. Was the decision to invade a mistake? What should our policy in Iraq be today? Should we base substantial military forces there for the foreseeable future? Start to withdraw now, or if not now, according to a plan (i.e., on a timetable)? Which, if any, of the congressional resolutions introduced so far on Iraq do you support?
Of course the decision to invade Iraq was a mistake, and I said so at the time. When the Bush Administration and their supporters in Congress gloated over the initial success of our military, I cautioned that establishing a government that Iraqis would accept as legitimate, not an American puppet, would be much more difficult than defeating the Iraqi military. I said then that I hoped my concerns proved unfounded. That hope was disappointed.
The recent escalation of American military forces in Baghdad has coincided with a decrease in sectarian violence. It is difficult to know the extent to which the two are related. Previously mixed neighborhoods have been ethnically cleansed, and the sectarian composition of Baghdad has changed from predominantly Sunni to predominantly Shiite. Other regions of Iraq, notably Basra, have had more pronounced decreases in violence that coincided with the withdrawal of Western military forces.
More important, the purpose of the escalation of force in Iraq, the surge, has not been accomplished. The escalation was intended to provide breathing room so that the Iraqi government would negotiate an accommodation of the divisions in Iraqi society. The Iraqi government appears to be as far from achieving such an accommodation as ever, if not further. The participants in the Iraqi government appear to have used the respite from the worst violence to advance the interests of their faction, not to seek a fair accommodation among all factions. Iraqi sects apparently remain locked in a civil war. The various factions welcome American military support in their fight with other factions, but none appear sincerely to embrace our stated goals in Iraq.
Last Spring I voted to provide additional funding for military operations in Iraq conditioned on a timeline for the withdrawal of our military forces. When the President vetoed that legislation, I voted to override the veto, but the vote to override the veto failed. I then voted against funding for military operations in Iraq with no real strings attached. On December 19, 2007, I again voted against funding for military options in Iraq with even fewer strings attached, but my vote was in the minority and the appropriation was approved. I intend to continue to vote against unconditional funding for military operations in Iraq, and to vote for efforts to force a different strategy and a timeline to withdraw our troops.
7. Evaluate the war in Afghanistan. What troop levels and funding should be allocated to fight that war? What is our goal there, in your view? What should our policy be? What legislation should be introduced to address those issues?
We have neglected efforts to establish a stable government in Afghanistan that is capable of maintaining order and the rule of law. We have neglected efforts to improve the economy, which was never prosperous. After a generation or more of conflicts, the per capita GDP of Afghanistan now is approximately $240. Extreme poverty is an ally of terrorism. We should let Afghans decide how their economy should work, what sectors should be public or private, not have American consultants dictating an economy that the Cato Institute would prefer.
Well know better how things are going when spring comes to the mountains.
8. What other major foreign policy issues do you see as needing Congress attention? Rate the importance of those issues and explain what you would do in Congress to address them.
We should continue to push for an end to our military involvement in the civil war in Iraq. We should push for a negotiated resolution between Israelis and Palestinians. We should press Sudan to end the genocide in Darfur, and to keep the frequently broken promise we made more than sixty years ago never to abide genocide. We should address global poverty, and the billion human beings living on less than $1 a day.
9. There has been an increase in unemployment, a rise in home foreclosures, a spike in food and fuel prices, a huge federal deficit, and other troubling economic indicators. What do you see as the primary sources of our current economic problems? What measures should Congress use to resolve address them? How would you begin to reduce the federal deficit? What are some of the possible negative consequences of your proposed solutions?
Please see my answers to earlier questions. We should allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for the richest Americans. If Americans with annual incomes of more than $1 million paid 39 percent in taxes instead of 35 percent, the federal government would have an additional $80 billion in revenue. It would also help not to spend $13 billion a month on Iraq, but we need to replace much of our equipment and spend substantially to restore the military capacity we had before the Iraq invasion.
10. What should be done about the growing numbers of Americans without health insurance? What system would most fairly insure all Americanswhile keeping in mind the cost?
The number of Americans without insurance has continued to increase since 2000, reaching 46.6 million in 2005, largely as the result of a decline in employer-sponsored insurance, as more and more jobs shift from large corporations to small businesses. In addition, household incomes have declined and the national poverty rate has increased, meaning fewer Americans are able to afford health care without insurance. The uninsured receive less preventative care, are diagnosed at more advanced disease stages, and once diagnosed, tend to receive less therapeutic care. There are several ways that Congress could increase the number of Americans covered by insurance. These include:
- Providing small businesses with a tax credit for providing health insurance to their employees;
- Letting older Americans who lose their jobs or who are dropped from their retiree health plan buy into Medicare;
- Ensuring Americans get a fair deal on prescription drugs, and can re-import safe prescription drugs from Canada;
- Ensuring that every eligible child is enrolled in public health insurance;
- Expanding Medicaid coverage for middle class families with children with significant disabilities, so parents may work and still qualify
- Requiring Medicare to use the buying power of 40 million Americans to get better drug prices, just as the VA has used their buying power to get better drug prices.
I also expect that I would support the health care plans offered by both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama.
11. On the environment, do you support a federal moratorium on new coal-fired power plants until clean coal technologies can be developed? Why or why not? And secondly, what legislation should Congress pass to help address the issue of climate change and global warming?
I am a cosponsor of the Climate Stewardship Act. This legislation would call for the reduction of emissions for six greenhouse gases from anticipated levels beginning in 2010. It would require that greenhouse gas emissions from covered entities be limited to year 2000 levels.
As Chairman of the Science and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, I have held hearings relating to climate change. I plan to continue using my subcommittee to promote scientifically sound policies to reduce the threat global warming poses to our planet.
In March 2007, I sent a letter to the Interior Secretary requesting that he provide more information regarding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services forbidding their scientists from discussing climate change, polar bears, and melting sea ice in international meetings. I believe there needs to be a full and free discussion on climate change and it is unacceptable for scientists to be silenced.
In October 2007, I sent a letter to ExxonMobile requesting all records since 2002 relating to their support of scientists working on polar bears and other Arctic animals after an essay was released by several scientists known to have received funding from ExxonMobile, used to oppose the designation of polar bears as an endangered species. The scientists claimed there is no evidence of a decline in the polar bear population in West Hudson Bay as a result of climate change. One of the scientists thanked ExxonMobile, at the end of the essay, for supporting his work on polar bears.
I was disappointed to read that ExxonMobil continues its efforts to build doubts about the impacts of climate change by funding challenges to the science underlying the proposed listing of polar bears. It is clear that global warming is the proximate cause for the melting of Arctic Sea Ice and the loss of the polar bear's habitat.
Legislation I support:
H.R. 969 would amend title VI of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 to establish a Federal renewable energy portfolio standard for certain retail electric utilities, and for other purposes. It would specify a schedule of graduated annual percentages of a supplier's base amount that shall be generated from renewable energy resources, from 1% in 2010 up to 20 % in 2020 and thereafter. It also authorizes a retail electric supplier to satisfy those requirements through submission of renewable energy credits to the Secretary of Energy and provides for energy credit trading or borrowing among suppliers. Finally it directs the Secretary of Energy to: (1) encourage federally-owned utilities, municipally-owned utilities, and rural electric cooperatives that sell electric energy to electric consumers for purposes other than resale to participate in the renewable portfolio standard program; and (2) establish by December 31, 2009, a state renewable energy account program.
HR 2337, the Energy Policy Reform and Revitalization Act would address alternative fuels development, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas capture and storage, and the impact of climate change on fish and wildlife. The bill would also strengthen environmental regulations for new energy projects, including guidelines for siting wind turbines.
I am a co-sponsor of the Climate Stewardship Act, which would reduce emissions of greenhouse gas emissions from anticipated levels beginning in 2012. It requires that greenhouse gas emissions from covered entities are limited to year 2004 levels and will eventually reduce emissions to 70% below 1990 levels by 2050.
I have repeatedly co-sponsored legislation to raise CAFÉ standards.
12. District 13 candidates only: What is your view of the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility, which could be built in Butner? What role does citizen opposition play in your decision whether to support it?
I believe we need to do research into animal diseases, whether in Butner or another site. Wherever the facility is located, the research must be conducted with safeguards against any danger to public health. The Department of Homeland Security is considering Butner as a potential site because a consortium that included Granville County local government applied to be considered. I was not involved in that consortium. I favor the site in Butner if the Environmental Impact Statement shows that it is an environmentally appropriate site, and if it is supported by the community. The Granville County commission, which initially supported the application to site the facility in Butner, and was part of the consortium that requested consideration for the Butner site, has now withdrawn their support until the Department of Homeland Security answers certain questions satisfactorily. A couple of the commissioners with whom I have spoken told me that they continue to believe the facility would be an asset if those questions are satisfactorily answered, and that is consistent with what the commissioners have said publicly.
At the urging of the County Commission and the Butner town council, I requested that DHS scientists be available to answer questions from the community.
I have listened respectfully and closely to the concerns of citizen opponents, and met with opponents at some length in my office, in addition to attending two public meetings. I have also spoken to Granville County citizens who support locating the research facility in Granville County. I have generally not been persuaded by the opponents arguments against the facility. I will not support locating the facility in Granville County if I believe the community opposes the facility, however, even if I am not persuaded by the arguments in opposition. I believe that local elected officials are better able to judge the will of the community than I am.
The premise of this question conflicts with the premise of question 5. The premise of this question is that a virtuous politician will be responsive to majority will, and defer to the majority. The premise of question 5 is that a virtuous politician will take principled stands when he or she believes majority opinion is wrong. I have thought a fair amount about that conflict, and how to resolve it in various circumstances. Does The Independent understand that there is a conflict?
13. Where do you stand on:
The death penalty?
I support the death penalty as the expression of societys revulsion for the most depraved crimes.
I am painfully aware of the inequities in the criminal justice system in general, and in death penalty litigation in particular. As a member of the North Carolina Senate, I supported a moratorium on the imposition of the death sentence to address those inequities. I also supported a prohibition on the death penalty for the mentally retarded.
I support the right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy before viability, the right guaranteed by the Supreme Courts decision in Roe v. Wade. My voting record has consistently been 100 percent from the point of view of advocates of abortion rights, and zero from the point of view of abortion rights opponents.
I support affirmative action as it has been limited by court decisions, which generally have forbidden quotas. I support diversity as a consideration in admissions to universities, and efforts to prevent hiring and contracting to be based upon a buddy system, which tends to favor whites over African-Americans and other minority group members.
I am a co-sponsor of ENDA and I voted for it on the House floor and against efforts to weaken the legislation. I am a co-sponsor of legislation to allow gays to serve openly in the military. I voted against a constitutional amendment to prohibit any state from allowing gays to marry. I have sought and received the support of the Human Rights Campaign in my campaigns for Congress.
Retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that engaged in domestic surveillance without a warrant?
I voted for the Democratic-sponsored revisions to federal surveillance laws. The Democratic plan would allow telecommunications companies to be sued for their role in the administration's warrantless surveillance program, but allow the companies to argue and present classified evidence during a closed judicial proceeding without the plaintiff present.
14. With the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, civil libertiesincluding habeas corpus and privacy rightshave been sharply curbed over the past seven years. Do you think these actions are justified? If so, please be specific in how theyve been effective. If not, please explain how you would work in Congress to restore civil liberties, and what, if any, restrictions on them you would propose.
Like Senators Obama and Clinton, I voted to extend the Patriot Act because I believed that the provisions of the Patriot Act, as revised, met the requirements of the Constitution and would significantly assist law enforcement in responding to terrorist threat. Almost all of the enhanced law enforcement powers included in the revised Patriot Act are allowed to law enforcement in other circumstances, such as espionage and drug trafficking, and have survived constitutional challenge. The delayed service of search warrants, or a sneak and peak search, for instance, requires that a search warrant be issued by a detached magistrate on a showing of probable cause, and can be challenged in court before any evidence resulting from the search can be used in a criminal prosecution.
I voted against the Warrantless Electronic Modernization Act because the legislation gave the President powers incompatible with the Constitution to eavesdrop secretly on Americans without oversight by Congress or the courts.
I voted against the Protect America Act for the same reason.
I support giving law enforcement the necessary powers to combat terrorism without repealing the Bill of Rights, including the guarantee of access to the courts through habeas corpus proceedings.
I have fought to protect the separation of powers in our Constitutional system from extravagant claims of executive powers by the Bush Administration. I played a significant role in contempt proceedings against Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton, and opposing changes in rulemaking procedures by federal agencies that disregard the requirements of statute.
15. Are there any other issues on which you, as a member of Congress, will focus if elected?
My congressional web site, house.gov/bradmiller, contains a discussion of my position on a wide variety of issues, and the Washington Post has a database of votes at projects.washingtonpost.com/congress.
16. Where do you stand on the issue of offshore drilling? What changes do you feel are necessary in the U.S. Energy Policy?
I voted for a comprehensive energy measure that will lower costs to consumers and American taxpayers, invest in renewable energy sources to create American jobs, expand domestic energy supply and create greater energy efficiency and conservation. The bill will roll back tax breaks in a time of record oil company profits and require oil companies to pay royalties that they have avoided; invest in wind, solar and natural gas, 21st century energy sources to create millions of jobs; responsibly open up additional offshore areas for drilling with oil companies footing the bill instead of taxpayers; and release oil from the government's stockpile to bring down gas prices.
This legislation is a clear change from the failed Bush Administration's 'drill only' policies that have made our country more dependent on foreign oil as energy costs spiral and consumers and businesses suffer. We now have a clear choice: either side with American taxpayers and consumers, or with the oil industry.
I am not happy with permitting oil exploration off North Carolina's coast, but the 26-year Congressional moratorium banning increased oil exploration on the United States outer-continental shelf will expire in two weeks. Should the ban expire, oil exploration could begin within sight of the beaches of North Carolina. North Carolina would gain little from the drilling and could easily lose our tourism industry if there was a spill.
While the bill is far from perfect, it is far better than doing nothing. I voted for the comprehensive energy bill to preserve as much protection as I could -- oil exploration is still banned for the first 50 miles of the outer-continental shelf, and can only occur from 50 to 100 miles out if a state opts in and agrees to the exploration. Marine sanctuaries, our most precious natural resources, and naval training areas, critical to our national defense and readiness, are also off-limits for exploration. Only those areas of the outer-continental shelf 100 miles out and more are fully open to oil exploration.
Ultimately, I concluded that the Comprehensive American Energy Security & Consumer Protection Act provided that best outcome for the people of North Carolina and for our natural resources and businesses.
17. In your view, what are the components of comprehensive immigration reform? What needs to happen in order for this reform to happen under a new administration?
We must reform the immigration system to secure our borders and adequately fund the agencies that execute that critical responsibility. I agree that it feels wrong to reward illegal behavior with citizenship. But, it's impossible to calculate the burden on law enforcement to round up 12 million illegal immigrants when our Immigration and Customs agents can't deport more than 600,000 incarcerated illegal felons. We should deport some, starting with immigrants convicted of crimes. Others who have worked hard, paid taxes and obeyed the law should have some way to become citizens -- but they should have to earn it.
Congress still needs to come up with comprehensive Immigration Reform. We must provide employers with new, reliable tools to check the status of workers, force employers to verify their status, and punish those who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
At the same time, the United States should work for immigration policies that promote reunifying families, and allow the entrance of immigrants who benefit our country, whether academically, commercially, or culturally.