D.C. — It was a quiet Saturday on Capitol Hill, with most of North Carolina’s delegation members back in their home districts for the weekend.
But U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., was in Washington, D.C., preparing to pack up as his fifth term in office comes to an end.
Miller, whose 13th District includes parts of Wake, Alamance and Guilford counties, spoke candidly about how he thinks Congress has handled the so-called fiscal cliff. He said he’s not surprised his fellow lawmakers have yet to pass a bill to avoid going over the cliff.
“I think this issue is a part of the general dysfunction of Congress and of our political system,” he said. “Now, our partisanship has really become destructive. The idea that the House is more of a mess than the Senate is pretty remarkable.”
Miller was critical of House Speaker John Boehner, saying he can’t put together a majority with just Republicans, and he won’t deal with Democrats.
Like everyone else in the country, Miller is waiting to see what the Senate plan looks like.
“I am against some of the proposals,” he said. “I don’t think we need to cut Social Security.”
Miller also prefers to raise taxes on families earning more than $250,000.
He gives the government a 50-50 chance of coming up with a short-term fix before the New Year. Miller said he believes some Republicans may decide it’s politically safer to vote on a deal after the fiscal cliff deadline passes.
“Then even if it’s on Wednesday, they’d be voting to cut taxes rather than to raise taxes,” Miller said.
Miller said he would vote for “Band-Aid” approach as a temporary solution.
“I’d have to see even what the Band-Aid is, but I would vote for something short-term that avoids the dire economic consequences.”
In sharp contrast to Miller's position, Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers placed the blame on the "reckless agenda" of Washington Democrats.
She also pointed out that the House took action with an August vote against tax increases.
"The House has acted and it is now up to the Senate to do their job in order to avoid the fiscal cliff on Jan. 1," Ellmers said in a statement Saturday.
She urged Americans to contact their senators and President Obama and remind them that tax increases would have a damaging effect on the economy.
"This year's election showed that Democrats will continue to run Washington," said Ellmers, whose 2nd District includes parts of Cumberland, Johnston and Lee counties. "But here in the House of Representatives, Republicans remain the last line of defense against government waste and increased federal power."