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Fiscal Responsibility

The Current Challenge 

In 2009, our country faced a major recession and a historically large deficit.  The deficit was, in large part, a product of the historically unprecedented decisions to enter into two costly wars abroad while cutting taxes. In combination with a deep recession, the deficit exploded.

We have made progress on both fronts.  The economy is recovering and our deficit continues to drop.  In 2009, we identified that an estimated $4 trillion in deficit reduction was needed over 10 years, and by various measures, we will come close to achieving that.  Yet the news is mixed – many economists say the austerity that drove the deficit’s sharp rate of decline has compromised the strength of our economic recovery.

Congress used to be able to agree on the basic facts about the economy and use that information to build consensus as to where we needed to direct our attention. Now, however, even our most basic indicators such as job growth and the unemployment rate are subject to so much spin and partisan interpretation that positive progress is impaired. If we can’t even agree on where we are, how will we ever agree on where we’re going?

Budget

That is why I voted for a budget at the end of 2015 that lifted some of the restrictions imposed by the sequester. It is clear that we cannot simply cut our way to a healthy economy. We need a smart combination of spending cuts, tax incentives, a realistic revenue stream, and smart investment in our nation in order to continue the growth that we have seen in the past five years and make sure all Americans benefit from it.

This kind of thinking is what lead me to support the Simpson-Bowles plan in 2011.  In 2010, President Obama convened a bipartisan commission to analyze budget projections and develop a comprehensive set of recommendations for Congress.  Its members were drawn from both parties and all walks of civil life.  In the end, the full panel could not reach a consensus.  But the commission’s co-chairs, former US Senator Alan Simpson and former White House Budget Director Erskine Bowles, issued their recommendations. 

The Simpson-Bowles plan would have saved taxpayers $4 trillion over ten years by making three key changes to the budget:  cuts to spending, including reductions of both tax subsidies and defense spending; reforms to Social Security for future recipients; and simplification of the tax code by eliminating loopholes and lowering overall rates.  While Simpson-Bowles was far from perfect and contained many difficult choices – some of which I fervently disagreed with – it was a significant start towards a comprehensive, balanced plan.

The Promise of Bipartisanship

I was one of only 38 Members of Congress to vote for budget reforms based on the bi-partisan Simpson-Bowles plan. I have been proud to be recognized by groups like No Labels and the Concord Coalition with awards that recognize moderate, bi-partisan efforts to improve fiscal responsibility. USA Today deemed us the Brave 38. I have once again been named as a Fiscal Hero by Fix the Debt for taking fiscally responsible votes, pushing party leaders to make debt a priority, leading bipartisan efforts to work through policy options to fix the debt, and introducing legislation to improve the nation's fiscal position.

The only budget I’ll ever vote for will be fair, responsible and realistic.  We have made great strides over the past few years towards getting our fiscal house back in order, and it is time for Congress to have a serious, bipartisan conversation about our spending priorities—including making targeted investments in our transportation infrastructure, scientific research, and our education and job training programs

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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