Democratic U.S. House candidate Rob Miller proposed slashing congressional pay and perks as part of a plan to win back voter trust.
Miller would also cut federal spending by 3 percent to 5 percent, exempting military, veterans affairs and homeland security budgets.
"Hard-working South Carolinians, men and women, have lost faith in Washington," Miller said during a press conference at the Colonial Center, one of few he has held. "Everybody is tightening their belts. It’s long past time for Congress to lead the way."
Miller is challenging Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson in the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Lexington and a portion of Richland counties and runs south to Beaufort and Hilton Head.
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The race is already the most expensive in South Carolina history, after Wilson yelled "You lie!" during President Barack Obama's congressional address in September. That outburst garnered millions in campaign contributions for both Miller and Wilson — $6.6 million total. Both candidates have about $1.7 million on hand, according to the latest campaign reports.
Rank and file members of Congress earn $174,000 per year, with majority and minority leaders earning $193,400 per year and the speaker of the House of Representatives pulling down $223,500 per year.
Miller said he would reject any raise until the federal budget is balanced.
Traditional Democratic-supported programs such as health care and education would be subject to his proposed budget cuts, Miller said.
"It's not too far a reach to expect government to do more with less," he said.
Wilson spokesman Brian DeRoy said Democrats have controlled the U.S. House for four years, increasing the budget during that time. The congressman, DeRoy said, has proposed limiting federal spending to 2008 levels until the budget is balanced.
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