BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. HIMES. Mr. Speaker, I rise today with regret that I am unable to cast my vote in support of H.R. 4213 as it stands. I am acutely aware that many families and workers across Connecticut are still struggling from the severe downturn in our economy. Last winter, I supported and voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. At the time, economists from across the spectrum were calling for a stimulus, and I continue to consider the stimulus a key element in a multi-pronged approach to turn our economy around. While the stimulus is clearly helping, we have yet to feel its full effects. Nearly $400 billion--or more than half--of Recovery Act funds remain unspent. Given this fact, I have serious reservations about authorizing additional spending at this time.
The legislation settled on during this process would increase spending by $115 billion, $60 billion of which is not paid for. While I applaud efforts to trim the size and scope of this bill, it still increases our national deficit without a plan to address our long-term fiscal health.
My concerns with this bill are tempered by my enthusiastic support for many of its provisions. I support, and have voted for, a permanent repeal of the flawed Sustainable Growth Formula, SGR, which threatens the financial viability of our medical providers for the sake of an accounting gimmick. I recently added my name to a letter calling upon the Senate to act on permanent reform of the SGR--these piecemeal measures like the "fix'' in this bill, while necessary in the short term, are an irresponsible substitute for repealing and replacing this flawed formula.
I support a strong safety net for our unemployed and under-employed, and I have voted in favor of extending unemployment benefits. In a time of economic upheaval, these benefits are crucial to helping families make ends meet and stimulate the demand that leads to economic recovery. And, I support a number of the expiring or expired provisions in our tax code, such as the Research and Development tax credit, which are critical to innovation and job creation.
While I support many of the provisions contained in the bill, I generally will not and cannot support increased spending that does not meet the true spirit of the PAYGO legislation I cosponsored last summer and the President signed into law in February.
Today, I take a step towards thoughtfully rebalancing the budget. While we all know that the economy has by no means fully recovered, it's time to pull back government spending so that we don't find ourselves in an even more dangerous fiscal predicament down the road.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT