Danbury News-Times - Himes Talks to Editorial Board
By Dirk Perrefort
Democratic congressional candidate Jim Himes said he would have reluctantly voted for the $700 billion bailout bill, but would have like to see several elements added to the measure.
"It's clear now that we are going into a recession and I would have liked to have seen a stimulus program included in the bill," Himes said during a meeting with The News-Times editorial board earlier this week.
He added that he would like to see a stimulus program, however, that would pump money into the economy through investing in infrastructure - rather than sending out checks to taxpayers.
"Of the $80 billion the government sent out in rebate checks during the last stimulus program only about $20 billion went into the economy," he said.
Himes, who is running against longtime Republican incumbent Chris Shays for the fourth congressional district, said he would also like to see unemployment benefits extended - putting more money into the economy - as well as a mandatory program for renegotiating mortgages that are the most at risk of defaulting.
He said the government also has to restructure the regulatory oversight of financial markets "so we don't see this again. There has been a complete failure of oversight."
Himes, who worked for Goldman Sachs for 12 years before moving into nonprofit work, said he saw a dramatic change in the financial industry over the last 10 years with new complex products that received little oversight.
The congressional candidate also spoke about transportation and energy concerns as well as his approach to immigration reform.
Himes said he differs on Shays with immigration reform in that while both candidates agree to some form of documentation of illegal immigrants, Shays doesn't believe in a path to citizenship while Himes does.
"Shays proposes a blue card and immigrants would be able to work, pay taxes and social security but never be eligible for citizenship," Himes said. "That would create a permanent under class of workers. That strikes me as un-American."
Himes said that while he supports a pathway to citizenship, there should be penalties illegal immigrants have to pay along the way for "breaking the law" and would not be allowed "ahead of the line" of other immigrants already seeking citizenship.
Himes also faulted Shays for not working harder to bring more transportation money to the state from the federal government.
"I'm puzzled that Shays has never been a leader on transportation," Himes said, adding that transportation issues are crucial to the expansion of businesses in Fairfield County.
"We need more resources and leadership on the issue," he said.
On energy, Himes said he supports a carbon emissions caps and constructing more energy efficient using LEED - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designs - standards.
"The federal government can play a role in green buildings," Himes said.
He added that the government could initiate programs that would promote more banks to underwrite loans for buildings using green building standards. The federal government should also use the same standards when constructing their own buildings.
Himes said one of the issues he's struggled with his stance on for most of his life is capital punishment.
"I want to oppose it," he said. "Every fiber in me want so say it's bad but I can't quite get there. If a law was put in front of me today to eliminate capital punishment I wouldn't support it."