With the GOP Majority having adjourned Congress a week earlier than planned, Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) has taken his advocacy for deficit reduction and comprehensive tax reform on the road. At an event yesterday in Greenwich, Himes again expressed his support for the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction proposal. As reported by the Stamford Advocate:
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., has been a staunch supporter of the Simpson-Bowles proposal to cut trillions of dollars from the nation's debt, and on Thursday warned participants at Deloitte's third annual Hedge Fund Symposium that the alternative to not enacting the recommendations could be catastrophic.
Himes’ commitment to fiscal responsibility is not new. Beginning in his first term, Himes advocated for deficit reduction. In early 2010, he and three other first-term representatives urged House Leadership to cut actual spending when the House passed a budget for the coming fiscal year. Later that year, he helped lead a group with three other first-term representatives that sought creative ways to reduce wasteful spending, introducing $70 billion in cuts.
Himes was an early supporter of Simpson-Bowles, which has guided much of his deficit reduction work in his second term. He worked with Minority Leader Steny Hoyer to push for action on long-term deficit reduction and helped lead a group of over 100 Members of Congress who urged the Super Committee to put forward a plan to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years. When the Simpson-Bowles plan was finally considered by the U.S. House, Himes was one of only 38 Members to support the proposal, which later earned him the Paul E. Tsongas Economic Patriot Award from the non-partisan Concord Coalition.
The clips below provide a summary of Himes’ work on deficit reduction.
9/20/12 Bridgeport News: Himes efforts to reduce deficit earns him an award
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes was receive the 2012 Paul E. Tsongas Economic Patriot Award from the Concord Coalition for his work on deficit reduction during an event at Liaison Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 20.
The Concord Coalition, a non-partisan organization dedicated to reducing the national deficit, is recognizing Himes for his courage in voting for the bipartisan Cooper-LaTourette Budget, which was modeled after the deficit-reduction recommendations of Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles and which was the only budget to receive bipartisan support in the House.
8/5/12 Darien Times: Rep. Jim Himes: Act now on Simpson-Bowles
But U.S. Rep. Jim Himes of Greenwich, who represents most of Fairfield County, says that this is actually the perfect time to try and enact reforms to taxes and spending that will have a real impact on the deficit.
5/25/12 Darien Times: Himes decries partisanship, says tough choices coming
Himes said what he wants to see is a return of the Simpson-Bowles proposal, a controversial report released by a presidential commission led by former Republican Senator Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, who was chief of staff under President Bill Clinton. The spending cuts and taxes it recommended as well as reforms to programs such as Medicare drew sharp criticism from both Democrats and Republicans when the report was released, but Himes said it contains the framework for a deal on spending in Washington.
“We’re going to have to come to a deal in December and this is what the deal is going to look like, give or take a little,” Himes said.
5/5/12 Weston Daily Voice: Fairfield County Takes Stab at Federal Spending
“There are many demands and not enough revenue,” he said. “There’s nothing simple about putting together a smart budget.”
He said he voted for the Cooper-LaTourette budget, “which represents a good chance to get the budget under control” and he looks forward to December, when Congress will debate raising the debt ceiling and “there’s a possibility for real negotiations on the Hill.”
4/3/12 USA Today: Budget compromise championed by just 38 lawmakers
What did the House do? Nothing. Democrats offered a budget that got no Republican votes. Republicans offered a budget that got no Democratic votes, but passed because the GOP controls the House. It will go nowhere in the Democratic Senate, which has no plans to take up a budget this year anyway.
There aren't many heroes in this soul-destroying process, but we found a tiny band of 38 — the 22 Democrats and 16 Republicans who voted for a bipartisan alternative budget based on the proposal from President Obama's fiscal commission in 2010.
This, or something very much like it, is where every non-partisan budget expert and every realistic politician in Washington knows Congress will have to go to solve the budget problem.
“I’m terribly disappointed; I have been urging from the start that these guys not just do the $1.2 trillion but get all the way there – do the big deal, the $4 trillion deal that deals with our tax code, that deals with a fair reform of our entitlements and the cuts and everything we need to do to put this exercise behind us.”
“We know that the challenge of fixing our fiscal situation involves more cuts and probably involves more revenue – hopefully achieved wisely by getting rid of loopholes and deductions and that sort of thing, rather than simply raising people’s taxes.”
11/23/11 Greenwich Time: Himes talks economy with Greenwich Rotarians
“It would have been really neat to show the American people we can come together to do a big deal.” The Greenwich resident spoke to about 30 Rotarians during a lunchtime meeting at Polpo Restaurant.
"I was profoundly disappointed by the Super Committee's failure," said Himes, who noted he wanted the committee to reach an agreement on spending cuts and revenue increases to eliminate the deficit by four trillion dollars.
The panel, charged with devising a plan to slash future deficits by $1.2 trillion, announced Monday it could not come to a deal on spending cuts.
11/4/11 Norwalk Hour: Himes to deficit reduction panel: Go Big
A bipartisan group of 100 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Congressman Jim Himes, D-4, have signed a letter, urging the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to identify $4 trillion in deficit reductions and to consider "all options for mandatory and discretionary spending and revenues.”
The letter, released by Himes' office this week, asks the so-called Super Committee to “go big” by shooting for $4 trillion -- rather than the $1.2 trillion mandate -- and to consider both cutting spending and raising taxes.
10/27/11 Wall Street Journal: Bipartisan group of 100 Lawmakers to Urge $4 Trillion Deficit-Cutting Deal
Importantly, the letter calls for the 12-member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to consider “all options,” including both spending and revenue – suggesting that Democrats are open to entitlement reforms while Republicans would back tax increases if they were part a giant deal.
“We know that many in Washington and around the country do not believe we in the Congress and those within your committee can successfully meet this challenge,” the lawmakers plan to say, according to a draft copy. “We believe that we can and we must.”
“We felt that this was the moment to express both our mutual trust as well as our desire to get something big and important done here even if it’s painful,” said Rep. Jim Himes (D., Conn.), who intends to sign the letter.
“The Republicans unfortunately are sort of focused on some things that very few economists are telling us are actually going to create much in the way of jobs: you know, deregulating industry around the clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act – look, we should always be thinking about regulations, but the vast bulk of economists are telling us that we should be taking this moment to invest in our infrastructure, to put guys back to work rebuilding railways and highways.”
10/9/11 CT Post: Himes backs revenue boost, cuts to attack debt
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., joined 99 House members from both sides of the aisle Wednesday to tell the 12-member "super committee" of Congress that "everything should be on the table," including revenue increases and spending cuts, in finding ways to cut the $14.8 trillion federal debt.
The group urged the super committee to come up with plans to slash the deficit by $4 trillion, rather than their mandated goal of $1.2 trillion, by the Nov. 23 deadline.
7/20/11 WCBS: Himes discusses debt limit
“It’s [The Gang of Six plan] a proposal that looks like it is more or less based on the Simpson-Bowles Debt Commission of December. Many of us thought that while a lot of things in there are very difficult… at least it’s a balanced place to start.”
5/29/11 Greenwich Post: Himes stresses support for Medicare, but says fair reforms needed
Mr. Himes also stated his continued support for what is known as the “Simpson Bowles” plan based on the recommendations of a commission chaired by former Republican Senator Alan Simpson and former Democratic White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles. Mr. Himes has said he doesn’t like all of the plan, but there were things like a gradual increase in the retirement age of one year over 40 years that he feels will help.
“It is a reasonably fair combination of getting a lot of gunk out of the tax code like the deductions that allowed General Electric and Bank of America to not pay any taxes last year, and cuts that are painful but necessary,” Mr. Himes said. “That’s what we’re going to need. People will be unhappy with this plan when we get into the guts of it. There’s nothing in any of these plans that’s fun to talk about. There are cuts to programs people like and changes to the tax code.”
5/27/11 MSNBC: Himes discusses budget with Rep. Chaffetz
“The reality is that we do need to make Medicare sustainable in the long run; it is a major and difficult project and guys in the Democratic Party need to be careful about painting themselves in the corner. That said, we are Democrats because unlike Ryan and unlike the Republican plan, we are not going to permit that sustainability to be injected on the back of our seniors.”
“There is a plan out there that is tough, but it is comprehensive, it’s integrated, it was developed in a bipartisan fashion, and that plan of course is the Simpson-Bowles plan, which includes cuts to defense spending, cuts to discretionary nondefense, it includes an expiration of the Bush tax cuts on our highest income earners, and it includes seriously addressing the entitlements.”
5/23/11 Westport News: Himes: Everything on table in budget-balancing act
"The adults in this building have to agree that everything is on table," Himes said in an interview in the U.S. Capitol. He was referring to Congress and the closed-door budget negotiations being conducted by Vice President Joe Biden and six members of the House and Senate from both parties.
5/10/11 Fairfield Citizen: Himes: ‘I’m an optimist’ despite fiscal challenges
But it won't be easy, Himes warned. In fact, he said, there are difficult discussions ahead on entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. He added, however, that budget deliberations have "gotten progressively more honest."
He said he wouldn't support cutting payments to current Social Security recipients, but said that consideration should be given to tweaking the system for those like himself who are still several decades away from retiring -- among the options that should be weighed is means testing.
The financial problems of Medicare, Himes said, will be more difficult. The Republican-proposed voucher system doesn't address growing health-care costs. "It's lazy, it doesn't get at that 15 percent annual increase," he said.
4/6/11 CT Mirror: Delegations pans GOP budget proposal- with one exception
Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, noted that right now, the federal government shoulders the risk of spiraling health care costs. Ryan's plan seeks to shift that risk to states, when it comes to Medicaid, and to elderly individuals, when it comes to Medicare.
"It's not particularly equitable to just say 'Now you, the states or the individual, are going to bear that'," he said. "There's a smarter way, which says let's get those costs under control and create a more efficient system."
"I've been complaining for the last three months that we're having a dishonest conversation about the budget," Himes said, because the current fight is over a tiny slice--less than 15 percent-of federal spending. "Ryan, to his credit, has said there is a much larger conversation to be had."
The new GOP blueprint is still too narrow, Himes said, because it doesn't include tax increases or substantive cuts to corporate subsidies. But, he said, "it's a start."
4/5/11 Fox Business: Jim Himes on Simpson Bowles and Budgeting
“…Finally we have something in Simpson-Bowles that is comprehensive and that is real about our future.”
“I have no doubt that we’re going to address the overall budget, the overall outlays, the entitlements, but do we do it in a calm way where we try to do it in as equitable a fashion as possible, protecting our most vulnerable, protecting investment in things like railways and highways and other things that we really need for a vigorous economy, or are we gonna have to do it because we see Treasury rates jump fifty basis points in one option.”
4/4/11 WNYC: Rep. Jim Himes: Budget Debate ‘Profoundly Dishonest’
“One of the terribly disheartening things about this crazy debate over the current budget is that it plays exclusively in that 12-13 percent of our outlays known as 'non-defense discretionary.' It's a profoundly dishonest debate over $10 billion here, $20 billion there. If Republicans have put together a proposal that, like the Simpson-Bowles commission, is about the whole budget, entitlements and the tax code, I applaud them for that. But I expect there will be plenty in there that Democrats like me will object to.”
“I'm on record as having said that if it came to a vote, I would vote in favor of the Simpson-Bowles proposal. I don't know how many members of Congress have said that. It's a package of bad news; there's nothing in Simpson-Bowles that's fun to talk about or that pleases constituents, but it's a comprehensive and relatively fair plan for fiscal sustainability. If Republicans can produce a budget for 2012 that has intelligent cuts, that doesn't hurt our most vulnerable populations, and makes investments in things like transportation and education that are absolutely critical, then yes, we're talking.”
3/30/11 Fairfield Sun: Himes hears business community concerns, debate balance of spending with cutting
“The business community has been through a rough couple of years with a lot of uncertainty and I thought it would be a good idea for the representatives of the business community to meet with one of the senior members of congress,” Himes said after the meeting.
“There’s a whole series of questions we can’t answer despite [ Hoyer’s] seniority,” Himes said. “These are questions of great consequence, like are we going to gracefully figure out a way to raise the country’s debt ceiling? If we don’t do that we are messing around with the full faith and credit of the United States of America. Also are we going to have a government shutdown? We have no idea because the dynamics of the majority side, and I say this with no prejudice or partisan slant, are very interesting. The speaker of the House [John Boehner] does not control his caucus.”
3/27/11 Daily Easton: Himes Breaks Down Budget Problems
“We have to be honest,” said Himes, D-4th District. “We need to develop a comprehensive plan for sustainability, spending cuts, taxes and reform. But we must be careful not to cut at a speed that slows down the economic recovery. That’s what they’ve done in Great Britain, and their economy is starting to sputter.
“We need to invest in the things that generate prosperity,” Himes continued. “Education and infrastructure. You drop a bomb on Libya, and you never see that money again. But send somebody to college, and there’s a lifetime payback.”
3/25/11 CT Post: Himes discusses federal budget in Darien
Even though the recession weakened the economy, Himes said the U.S. still has one of the largest and most innovative economies in the world.
"The reasons we have such a large economy is because this is a great place to start a business," Himes said. "In the past we also invested heavily in our infrastructure."
However, Himes cautioned that investment in infrastructure has weakened over recent years and as a result, the economy has weakened.
3/2/11 Norwalk Hour: Himes, Blumenthal back bill to trim $4B from budget
"The stop-gap funding bill we passed today is a necessary and responsible measure to prevent a government shutdown," Himes said. "It makes smart, albeit small, cuts to federal spending and provides a time cushion to negotiate the courageous choices we must make to begin tackling our nation's spiraling deficit."
2/24/11 New Canaan Daily Voice: Himes: Taxes Won’t Cause Fairfield County Exodus
“I represent people, none of whom want to see higher taxes, most of whom understand that there need to be changes made to address the deficit. But it’s just not factual to say we’re going be an economic ghost town if taxes go up,” Himes said Wednesday during a wide-ranging interview with Main Street Connect reporters and editors about tough financial times for the state and the country.
Himes also encouraged residents to be vocal about investments in high-speed rail service and education, which will be important for Fairfield County’s future.
“There’s no excuse for scaling back educational investment at a time when businesses in this area are having a really hard time recruiting qualified American graduates,” he said. “We can’t make changes we need to do in ways that will hurt our prosperity 20 to 30 years from now. Under-investing in education and transportation is a total recipe for hurting our prosperity down the road.”
12/14/10 CT Post: Only the lonely: Himes at odds with colleagues on tax cut deal
In addition to keeping the tax cuts on the books for two more years, Himes said that the compromise brokered between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans includes an earned-income tax credit, a child-care tax credit, a one-year holiday on 2 percent of payroll taxes and an unemployment insurance extension.
"Look, I'm not, at the end of the day, willing to gamble the clearly stimulative aspects of this package, nor am I willing to bet that we can get a better deal when the Republicans take over the House in January," Himes said. "A January deal probably means no unemployment insurance extension and probably a permanent extension of the upper-income tax cuts, and neither of those things would be good."
10/25/10 New Canaan Patch: Himes Warns Against Lines In The Sand
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the [Simpson-Bowles] report "simply unacceptable."
"I was disappointed by the Speaker's statement," Himes told Patch. "It was really disappointing to have her draw lines in the sand. I was equally disheartened by people signing pledges on taxes and spending. They've painted themselves into a corner."
"The left-wing of my party has muddied the waters by calling the Bowles-Simpson Commission the 'cat food commission.' That's scare tactics," Himes said. "I'll continue to fight for my priorities."
7/29/2010 ABC News: ‘Top Line’ — Rank-and-File Dems Strike Out on Own on Budget Cuts
Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said he and his colleagues are acting on their own because neither Republican nor Democratic leaders are moving to identify budget cuts “in a constructive way.”
“It’s awfully easy to say what the American people want to hear right now, which is that we need to get out fiscal house in order,” Himes told us. “Nobody disputes that. We’ve got way too much debt, our entitlement programs are in a scary situation. What’s hard is what you say next. How do you do that? What specifically are you willing to bring to the table? And this process doesn’t happen — and it’s going to be a process of many years — it doesn’t happen unless people come to the table. Democrats come to the table with some spending cuts; there are no sacred cows. So four of us said, here’s $70 billion in cuts over 10 years to start this discussion. Agree or disagree, but come to the table with specifics.”
7/22/2010 BigNews.Biz: New Congressional Work Group Unveils Legislation to Cut Spending, Reduce Deficit
Four Members of Congress announced their formation of a new congressional “Spending Cuts and Deficit Reduction Working Group” and unveiled legislation to cut billions of dollars in wasteful spending from the federal budget. Gary Peters (D-MI), chairman of the new working group, Co-chair John Adler (D-NJ), and the groups’ other founding members, Peter Welch (D-VT) and Jim Himes (D-CT), have each sponsored legislation to cut billions in wasteful discretionary spending and subsidies from the energy, treasury and housing and urban development, defense, and agriculture budgets. In total the package’s spending cuts, ending of subsidies and closure of tax loopholes will reduce the deficit by over $70 billion.
“These bills start us on a path toward fiscal sustainability,” said Himes. “We owe our children no less--our long-term success depends on our ability to get spending under control and better prioritize the use of federal resources.
7/20/2010 Greenwich Time: Himes proposes cuts to trim wasteful spending
The group, which includes Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., introduced a series of bills known as the Reduce and End our Deficits Using Commonsense Eliminations Acts.
The REDUCE Acts will, "reduce spending, cut inefficient programs and eliminate or reduce costly industry subsidies across a range of programs," according to the news release.
Himes' plan attacks the Agriculture Programs Act of 2010 proposed to the federal government.
Himes' cuts would save an estimated $469 million in 2011 and $6.02 billion over 10 years according to the news release. The money would be cut through the "elimination of duplicative and unnecessary programs, such as health-care grants administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and subsidies for profitable private logging companies."
7/20/2010 The Hill: Dems: Party too vague on deficit
Peters and Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.) and John Adler (D-N.J.) challenged the Democratic leadership to embrace proposals that have specific dollar figures and programs attached to them.
Under the banner of the Spending Cuts and Deficit Reduction Working Group, the four Democrats are proposing budget cuts that would total $72 billion over 10 years — a modest proposal for a budget that clocks in at over $3 trillion per year.
The budget items offered for elimination include select defense programs, agricultural subsidies and tax breaks for the oil and gas industry. The group touted the measures as “concrete, actionable ideas” that could be implemented immediately.
The package “doesn’t really fix the problem,” Himes conceded. “It is a down payment, if you will. It’s an indication of seriousness. It’s an indication of willingness to put some specifics on the table.”
7/20/2010 Politico: Four House Democrats revolt
Four junior House Democrats frustrated with leadership’s approach to deficit spending are going rogue.
Reps. Gary Peters, John Adler (D-N.J.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) are getting more vocal on their concerns about government spending. They’re forming a working group to propose major cuts to spending in areas like defense, energy, housing and agriculture that they say would save about $70 billion over ten years.
7/20/2010 Wilton Patch: Guns and Butter: Himes Responds To Going Rogue
Himes stressed the importance of letting the rest of the world know that the U.S. has "the political will to get our fiscal house in order," and said one of the best ways to do that is to cut frivolous spending and rein in programs run amok, even (or especially) if it means reaching across the aisle to do so.
"I didn't accumulate the most independent voting record in New England overnight," Himes responded, also referencing a variety of votes he has made against spending plans over the last seven months. "The first question I ask myself when I vote is what is right for my constituents...so no, this isn't about politics. This is the right thing to do economically."
"We have a tendency to want guns and butter and it's the instinct to want it all that leads us down an irresponsible fiscal path," Himes said. "And an honest conversation about spending is not a fun conversation...but it's a conversation that we have to have over the next ten years and it is going to require that we're all willing to bring ideas to the table and reconsider our pet projects."
7/20/2010 WSHU: Himes proposes federal spending cuts
Himes: “The Republicans I have no doubt will mock this effort, but it’s time for us to put up or shut up. You can call for better fiscal responsibility – the question is how. We’ve taken the step of saying how.”
7/19/2010 Agriculture.com: DJ Group of House Democrats find $70B in savings for US budget
A group of House Democrats on Tuesday identified $70 billion in spending they said could be cut from the federal budget over the next decade, and introduced legislation calling for the cuts to be implemented.
Reps. Gary Peters (D., Mich.), Joe Adler (D., N.J.), Peter Welch (D., Vt.) and Jim Himes (D., Ct.) introduced the savings and the bills under the auspices of a new working group formed by the quartet.
The largest source of savings would come from ending various incentives for the energy sector, including closing tax loopholes for oil companies, halting the payments to states for abandoned mines and selling some federal power-generating assets that the lawmakers said could be run better by the private sector. These measures would result in $59 billion in savings over a 10-year period.
5/22/2010 The Hill: Freshman House Dems push their leaders to approve budget resolution
Murphy's letter, delivered Friday to Pelosi, was also signed by freshman Democratic Reps. Mike Quigley (Ill.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Steve Driehaus (Ohio) and Jim Himes (Conn.).
"We write to you today to express our support for consideration and passage of a budget resolution for FY2011 that reduces our actual spending," the members wrote. "We accept passing a budget as part of the responsibility of governing we accepted when first elected in 2008."