Miller: U.S. Going Bankrupt, States Need Control

Tea-Party-backed Joe Miller, candidate for the Republican nominee for the Senate, warned that the Obama administration is bringing the U.S. to bankrupcy and he supports asking the government for less federal money.
CBS
Tea-Party-backed Joe Miller, who could become the Republican nominee for the Senate if he brings down incumbent Lisa Murkowski, warned that the U.S. is going bankrupt and that "everybody in this nation is going to have to do some belt-tightening."

Miller told CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday that he supports asking the government for less federal money.

"I think Alaska ranks about second per capita of the amount of federal dollars that come in to the state," host Bob Schieffer said. [According to statistics by the Brookings Institution, for FY 2008 Alaska received $2,574.68 in Federal dollars per capita, behind only Vermont and the District of Columbia.]

"You've said that we can't afford all that federal money that's pouring into Alaska. Should Alaska get less money from the federal government?" Schieffer asked.

"I don't think anybody can [claim] - sitting at $13.3 trillion in absolute debt, by some estimates $130 trillion in future unfunded obligations - that we are in any way in a good financial state," Miller said.

"The answer to this is to basically transfer the responsibilities and power of government back to the states and the people. That is really the only answer, I think, out of this crisis," Miller said.

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"As we continue to tighten our belts because fiscally that's critical for the economic solvency of this nation, we also transfer it to the states more power. That means more ownership of lands. It's not a situation where you just yank the financial plug, but at the same time you're transferring over discretion over the use of the resource base," Miller said.

"In this state, two-thirds of it is owned by the federal government. There really isn't a good constitutional basis for that," Miller said. "It's our position that as the money is restricted, the lands are transferred."

A Miller victory would end a 30-year period when either Lisa Murkowski or her father represented Alaska in the United States Senate. At last count he was running about 1,700 votes ahead. It may be two weeks before the final outcome is known.

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Schieffer noted that Miller has also taken controversial and even extreme positions. "First you say you want to phase out Medicare. You want to privatize Social Security. I have to say there are a lot of people in Alaska who are on Medicare and are getting Social Security. Isn't that position going to be a problem for you in the [general] election?"

"I would suggest to you that if one thinks that the Constitution is extreme, then you would also think that the founders are extreme," Miller said. "We just simply want to get back to basics, restore essentially the constitutional foundation of our country.

"That means the federal government becoming less onerous, less involved in basically every item of our lives," he continued. "What that means is there does have to be some transition. With respect to Social Security, what we've said consistently throughout this race is that if you've paid into the system, if you're dependent on the system, we have got to get the fiscal house in order at the national level so that we can continue to pay those benefits. But to suggest that there is nothing that can be done, that we have to continue as the way things are, ignores the fact that the trust fund is empty - it's full of IOUs."

A recent government report shows that Social Security is projected to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes for the first time this year and next year. The Social Security trust fund is expected to be exhausted in 2037.

"We have to look at all the options that are out there, including privatization," Miller said. "It's something certainly that [President George W.] Bush championed in his first administration, something that Rep. [Paul] Ryan is looking at. I believe that it is irresponsible, it is basically part of the crisis of leadership in D.C., to not look at Social Security and understand that there has got to be a solution posed. We've got to take a look at it and make sure that we create a solution so our seniors aren't left out in the cold."

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