Miller was among several dozen lawmakers of both parties, advocates and fiscal experts who debated ways to tackle the nation’s growing deficit at the same time it faces a deepening recession. The session was held at the White House and an adjacent executive office building.
An apologetic liberal, some may not know that Miller introduced what is commonly called the pay-go system into Congress in the mid-1980s: It requires members to identify the source of funds for all new spending. It was in effect throughout President Clinton’s tenure but Republicans later repealed it.
“I was encouraged to hear that President Obama wants to go back to the pay-go system,” Miller said. “It may seem inconsistent that we pass the economic stimulus package one week and then talk about reducing the deficit the next week. But we absolutely must focus on our long-term fiscal health as the economy begins to recover.”
The fiscal summit included two-hour breakout sessions on how to reform healthcare, government procurement, Social Security and other major federal programs.
As chairman of the House Labor and Education Committee, Miller participated in the healthcare reform breakout.
“The president wants to pass a healthcare bill and he wants it done this session,” Miller said. “I get a very strong sense of urgency from him. We can’t fix the economy until we fix healthcare. It is driving a huge amount of the costs.”
Obama promised to supply summit participants with a report of the group’s findings in 30 days, a timeline Miller described as lightning-speed in government.