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4th District Candidates Talk Tax Cuts

Both candidates for Connecticut's 4th Congressional District support extending the Bush tax cuts, in opposition to the White House's stance.

Double dipping is never a good thing – especially when it comes to the economy.

But if Congress allows the so-called Bush tax cuts to expire on New Year's Eve that just might happen, according to some.

This summer area voters saw foreclosures increase and the state unemployment rate linger at 8.9 percent. So it's no surprise that, from shop owners in New Canaan to residents in Wilton, the economy remains issue number one for most.

"Certainly this is no time to be raising taxes," said Rep. Jim Himes (D-4) in a telephone interview with Patch last Wednesday.

Because of that the junior Congressman wants President Barack Obama to consider a two-year extension on all income brackets.

If Congress doesn't act, all the tax reductions put in place in 2001 and 2003 will expire when the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve. If Congress doesn't act then taxes on income, dividends, capital gains, and estates will increase, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, Tax Policy Center.

State Sen. Dan Debicella said Himes' position is merely political posturing.

"The evolution of Jim Himes' positions on the Bush tax cuts can only be diagnosed one way: his flip-flop is nothing more than a bad case of election year politics syndrome," said Debicella spokesperson Ashley Maagero. "Fairfield County families deserve clear and definitive answers like those from Dan Debicella, who has supported extending the Bush tax cuts from the beginning."

Yet, Himes' stance isn't new. Himes, together with seven other representatives, sent Obama a letter Jan. 26 urging him to extend the cuts.

"The federal government has pursued many avenues to ensure our economy recovers from this recession, but allowing the 2001 and 2003 tax rates to expire could undermine any progress that has been made," according to the letter. "Allowing these tax rates to expire during this recession runs the risk of curtailing economic expansion just when it begins to pick up and could lead to a 'double dip' recession that would result in even more hardship for the American people. "

A recent op-ed on CNN.com mirrored that sentiment.

John Avlon, senior political columnist for The Daily Beast, wrote that in taxing households where two working parents might earn a combined income of $250,000, those parents "might still find themselves struggling to stay in the stability of the upper-middle class in the expensive urban areas where they often work."

Himes, who represents a high cost of living district, said repealing the cuts now could make people more vulnerable.

"A $250,000 household income is not nearly what that income is in Maine or Nebraska," Himes said. "People get hurt by that logic, that that is rich. I represent a high cost district. "

That's good news for Dan Mulhern, owner of M Milestones in New Canaan.

"It's a very challenging environment, even in a community like New Canaan," Mulhern said. "People might not think the town is affected, but it is."

Even former White House Budget Director Peter Orszag supports extending tax cuts for at least two years. In a New York Times op-ed he said torpedoing the tax cuts would "make an already stagnating jobs market worse over the next year or two."

The White House doesn't see it that way.

Speaking in Ohio on Wednesday, Obama insisted that tax cuts for those households earning $250,000 or more expire in December. Obama favors lowering tax rates for individuals earning less than $200,000 a year.

Still, the question for Himes isn't whether the cuts should be extended, but for how long.

"It's a tough question because the longer we extend them the longer we add to the deficit," Himes said.

The non-profit, non-partisan Tax Policy Center said an extension would cost $3.7 trillion over next decade.

Graham September 13, 2010 at 02:42 PM
Jim Himes and the 90% Tax Bracket In a push for ever more spending, taxes, and regulation, our incumbent congressman Jim Himes has favored a role for government wherein economic winners and losers are increasingly picked in Washington, D.C. So, it seems reasonable enough for us to ask, “Who is winning and who is losing?”
Graham September 13, 2010 at 02:42 PM
WINNERS: The government has been particularly generous to itself over these past few years. The public sector is enjoying a bull market with an explosive increase in payroll and compensation. Today, Jim Himes is fortunate to be one of over 22,000 federal employees earning over $170,000. The headcount in this part of the Federal payroll is up over 90% since Himes took office. As many as 16,500 new IRS agents will be needed just to collect and audit the new taxes mandated by the recently passed healthcare law. Each of these new IRS agents should be grateful to congressmen such as Jim Himes for their jobs.
Graham September 13, 2010 at 02:42 PM
LOSERS: The taxpayers who may someday soon be on the other side of these audits are faring less well. Once we include the cost of the recent healthcare law, the growth of government is outstripping the growth of our economy at such a pace that taxes will have to skyrocket in order to pay for it. Specifically, we can calculate the necessary rates that would be required to keep pace with the trajectory of new spending: the 10% bracket would become 23%, 25% would become 57% and the top marginal tax rate would become 90%.
Graham September 13, 2010 at 02:42 PM
A 90% tax bracket? What can we do (besides looking for jobs from the IRS)? History shows that it is very difficult to do much about the size and expense of entitlement spending once it is in force. However, congress delayed enactment of much of the healthcare law for a few years in order to hide from us is full cost. It is during this time that we will have a chance to repeal this unaffordable spending, send 16,500 new IRS agents packing, and to restore our country’s balance. The repeal process can start in November – on November 2, we can repeal Jim Himes.
David Kostek September 13, 2010 at 07:04 PM
Have you considered starting your own blog?
Alexis Smith September 13, 2010 at 07:56 PM
I am happy to see Jim Himes taking a stand on the future of the U.S. tax cuts. Clearly, any 'flip-flopping' commentary can be quickly silenced by the fact that Himes has in fact maintained this point of view publicly for almost a year now, even before the issue became as hot of a topic that it has become. Himes recognized that the expiration of these tax cuts will not only hurt the nation as a whole but also the dedicated workers in our district. No one, red or blue, can take issue with Himes' stance on this issue, and this instance continues to illustrate Jim Himes' bipartisan approach to the issues and his concern for the citizens in our district.
Graham September 13, 2010 at 07:58 PM
until November 2nd, 2010.
David Kostek September 14, 2010 at 01:23 PM
Jim Himes has been on record since last January urging extension of the tax cuts; he's been incredibly consistent. He has voted against the so-called second stimulus in December of 2009. He was pretty much attacked by his party's leadership for proposing $70b in specific cuts to huge, profitable agribusiness companies out West and obsolete defense spending that the Pentagon doesn't even want. He supports the extension of tax cuts for all earners -- even those over $250k. For that, he has been beaten up by liberal pundits and blogger types nationwide. And he voted for the $275 billion in tax relief -- from AMT relief to tax credits for small businesses -- contained in the March 2009 stimulus. Yet in the minds of the HimesHaters, it's all an elaborate charade. THEY REALLY KNOW what Himes thinks and will do. Never mind what he has said in every single interview or done in vote after vote after vote. When faced with a Democratic opponent with a truly moderate sensibility and voting record, they just... make stuff up.
Michael Dinan (Editor) October 11, 2010 at 02:48 PM
Join the New Canaan conversation on Himes-Debicella here -- http://newcanaan.patch.com/articles/patch-voter-guide-the-race-for-the-4th-congressional-district-4 -- on Patch’s interactive voter guide for the 4th Congressional District race. The guide includes Q&As on tax cuts, healthcare and job creation with both Jim Himes and Dan Debecilla. The Comments are already rolling in on this hotly contested race – join the conversation now.

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