Jul 26, 2014

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.

4th District Candidates Talk Tax Cuts 4th District Candidates Talk Tax Cuts 4th District Candidates Talk Tax Cuts

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.

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