Before an intense crowd of 200, George Miller addressed a broad range of issues and took questions from the audience, which included a sprinkling of Tea Party T-shirt wearers, as well as two challengers to George in the 2012 Open Primary. There were participants in both the 99% and the Occupy Contra Costa efforts in the audience as well as vocal opponents of the movement who held right wing signs that Miller and the Democrats were communists.
The format was that Congressman would take direct questions from people who raised their hand in the audience which led to some chaos as a few determined to disrupt things and hi-hack the process stood up and interrupted with their questions.
After a particularly disruptive incident the Congressman made one of his more poignant comments when he spoke to the crowd directly calming them down and then making the comment that: “I am sure that you are the same people who are complaining why can’t Congressmen get along with one another.”
A fascinating part of the meeting was when someone asked about the Occupy Movement, Miller responded positively saying:
It is an incredibly important event. The talking heads are frustrated …because they cannot get a leader to tear down. The problems that they(The Occupy fols) are bringing up are so great. It is about the moral problems of the economy. The economic disparity is fundamental here…we have a greater disparity now than in South America in the 1980’s and we were saying that democracy could not be sustained under those conditions…. The Occupy Movement is speaking for millions of Americans.
Miller went on to say that the problems include the looting of America by international corporations and large banks who lost their moral responsibility and their fiduciary responsibility by going with short term profits on fees and commissions rather than on the sustainability of the loans.
Some of the points made and responses to questions are summarized here:
1. He is opposed to the extended missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan and the troops should be withdrawn. He was in favor of the initial effort to go after the 9/11 perpetrators. He does not trust the Karzi Government and says it is time to come home.
2. On Libya he said: “I do not think we had much alternatives…the Kadafi Government had announced it was going to massacre its own people… we shifted to a support role for NATO.” He pointed out that NATO did not have the resupply and refuel or military intelligence capacity for the mission and we had to provide that.
3. He is not in favor of the commitment of troops to Africa unilaterally, implying it was more about the recent efforts in Uganda.
4. On corporate tax cuts for bringing jobs back to the U.S. he pointed out that a few years ago Congress did give a Tax break in that area and they simply took the money and did not bring the jobs back.
5. When asked about a solar company taking government money and using it for jobs in Mexico, he said that he was under the impression that the jobs would be in the US. He reminded the audience that he had voted against NAFTA.
6. On the current political environment in Washington he echoed what a lot of Democratic senior members have been saying, that they have never seen such a poisonous partisan effort where one party (meaning the Republicans and their Tea Party Wing) are determined as a policy to have the president fail at all costs on all things. He pointed out that in the Bush Administration he was able to work with them on the No Child Left Behind, which passed overwhelmingly in the Congress.
7. He was asked about the inclusion of anti-abortion language in unrelated bills by the Republicans recently to which he responded that it was inappropriate and part of a distraction technique from the main problem of the economy.
8. He was asked about the Super Committee on the budget and if he thought what was going to come out of it was worse than letting the automatic triggers take place. Here he made it clear that he was not in favor of the lack of openness in the process and that the continued leaks of non-negotiable demands of no revenue cuts was going to doom the effort.
9. He supported the Carbon Tax method and had mixed feelings on the Cap and Trade program.
10. When pressed on the Federal Reserve to be audited and/or abolished he responded that the call for it to be audited is simply a “Trojan Horse” for those who expect something wrong to be found so that they can call for the abolishment of it. He is not in favor of abolishing the Federal Reserve System because the politicalization of Congress makes the independence of the Fed important. He also echoed that he was not a fan of Alan Greenspan in the past, but the dangers to a highly controlled Fed by the White House or the Congress might be more dangerous.
11. He stated that congress made bad decisions in the last 10 years to get away from the Pay As You Go concept by basically fighting two wars without paying for them, doing a Medical Drug deal without proper income, and cutting revenues while increasing expenses. Thus he feels that anything in the future has to have some revenue increase aspects.
12. A question by one of his challengers was aimed at questioning whether the Democrats were the party in favor of supporting minorities pointing out that the Party had been in favor of Slavery ((150 years ago)) Miller’s response was an overwhelming critique of the things that the Democrats had done and continued to fight for social justice where they have been opposed by the Republicans with an emphasis on the current period of modern times.