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Economy and Jobs

Slow But Steady Recovery

When I first arrived in Washington in January 2009, the economy was suffering its greatest downturn since the Great Depression.  The economic picture was bleak.  The country was losing close to 700,000 jobs each month, and American households had lost $16.4 trillion in home values, retirement accounts and other wealth.

Since then, we have seen steady improvement.  The unemployment rate is down to around 5%, an indicator of a strong economy. Economic conditions are improving, and so is consumer confidence.  We've seen private sector job growth for five straight years with more than 14.4 million jobs created.  While our national debt continues to be a significant challenge, our deficit has declined at a rate not seen since World War II. The stock market and most home prices have recovered strongly. Not everyone has seen the benefits of these gains, however, so we must work to grow incomes to ensure no one is left behind.

The key to continued recovery is for government to focus on investment in critical infrastructure and to create the conditions for innovation and job growth. That means education, training, and fighting to grow jobs in America and Connecticut.

Business Innovation

There are few districts in the nation that are home to such a diverse group of businesses as ours.  The 4th District includes Fortune 100 companies, small family-owned businesses, and everything in between.  

Our district is home to a growing number of high-tech startups, cutting-edge manufacturers and entrepreneurs.  Fostering innovation is the way forward.  In the last five years, I have done all I can to ensure that our nation’s entrepreneurs continue to thrive.  I introduced legislation to help small companies go public and small businesses gain access to important resources for growth.  I supported legislation to help US exporters sell their products abroad, and I co-sponsored the JOBS Act (Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act), which President Obama signed into law in 2012. 

Invest in America

I believe that we must invest in the things that keep our economy strong: education, infrastructure and research.  Our businesses cannot innovate and our families cannot prosper if we fail to maintain a resilient infrastructure and a superb system of education.

Where does government investment matter most?  In things like education, transportation and basic research.   Our educational achievement gap and our crumbling transportation networks – these are a real drag on economic growth. In terms of research, the phone you are carrying is testament: the semiconductors that drive it, the GPS system that powers location services and the internet it uses all grew out of public investment.

Rebuilding our deteriorating rail and highway system will create much-needed jobs and alleviate the congestion that we fight daily in Fairfield County. That’s why I’m proud to have voted for a robust, 5-year bill at the end of 2015 to fund our roads, bridges and rail. This will mean millions of dollars for our area and will provide stability for our future planning.

Relief for Working Families

Since I arrived in Congress, I have worked hard to help working families get ahead.  I remain focused on providing ladders of opportunity for every American and to rebuilding a robust middle class. I support raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 to help working families gain ground.  I’m proud that Connecticut has already done this – no one who works hard should be living in poverty.  

Immigration Reform

Passing comprehensive immigration reform would have a significant, lasting positive effect on the economy.  Two in five Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants or their children, and foreign-born Americans are twice as likely as native born Americans to start a small business.  The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that comprehensive immigration reform would add $1.4 trillion to GDP over 10 years.

Immigration reform would put 120,000 people to work every year and significantly cut the deficit, all while increasing the annual incomes of Connecticut families by $160 million. 

We are a nation of immigrants. It is through the influx of new ideas and culture that we become a stronger, more resilient nation. It is my duty as your representative to ensure that we continue to tap into this potential while keeping our nation safe and secure.

Wall Street Reform

For two centuries, US capital markets have been the envy of the world.  When regulated properly, our financial industry provides safe and ready access to capital for small businesses, educational loans, and home mortgages.  During the financial crisis of 2008, Wall Street engaged in excessive risk-taking, bringing turmoil and tremendous harm to the economy.  We must make sure that the mistakes that caused the financial crisis are never repeated.

That’s why I took a major role in writing the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  Dodd-Frank, as the Act is popularly known, helps protect Americans from the excesses that brought about the financial collapse of 2008-09.  The law’s major protections are three-fold:  it regulates certain derivatives, it reformed the mortgage lending market to better protect borrowers, and it created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Dodd-Frank is not perfect, and work remains to get it right over time, yet it represents an important step toward effective reform and accountability. I have stood strong against the constant attacks  to tear down the protections we have worked so hard to build and return to the old, dangerous ways and will continue to do so.

Our next move is to reform the mortgage finance industry.  The high cost of living in Fairfield County has had a negative impact on workforce retention, driving away the sort of workers that we want to attract.  As we tackle reform of housing finance, I am focused on ways to guarantee the 30-year mortgage and increase the supply of affordable housing. I have sponsored the Partnership to Strengthen Homeownership Act, which ensures that new homeowners will continue to have access to the affordable, predictable financing options they need, while protecting taxpayers and our economy from future downturns. The time has come to carefully wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in a way that preserves the promise of government backing for mortgages with stricter underwriting standards, while giving private market forces a growing role.  

Meet Jim

Congressman Jim Himes is a tireless voice for common-sense, independent solutions to the challenges facing Connecticut. He's looking out for the middle class, fighting for affordable health care for all, taking on special interests like the NRA to end gun violence, and working to create economic opportunity for working families.

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