So Democratic Congressman Jim Himes appeared on Fox News and prevailed.
No, it's not the start of a political joke. Himes, who is running for re-election in Connecticut's 4th Congressional District, discussed extending the 2001 and 2003 tax rates on the program "On the Record" Tuesday night. And to the surprise of the Himes campaign, host Greta VanSusteren defended the Democrat.
While a Greenwich Time article was cited in the Debicella/Himes dispute, Patch actually first reported Monday that Himes called for an extension of the so-called Bush tax cuts last January. But his opponent, State Sen. Dan Debicella, has repeatedly dubbed Himes' position an Election Day conversion.
"I hope your opponent sees that this is not an Election Day conversion and goes back and looks at your letter as I did," said VanSusteren.
VanSusteren cited a letter Himes, with seven other representatives, sent President Barack Obama on Jan. 26 urging him to extend the cuts.
In the letter, Himes said: "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."
The issue gained momentum after an article ran in Monday's Time. In it, Debicella quoted Himes as saying: "I'm still looking at it- I would say let them expire."
Debicella took comments Himes made during a New Canaan town hall meeting on Aug. 12 out of context. At the meeting Himes actually said: "On the ones that are in excess of $250,000, I'm still looking at it. I would say let them expire but for one thing, which is that there are a lot of small businesses running their tax returns into personal tax returns at that level…"
"The facts are just so clear," said Himes in a telephone interview with Patch. "All along I've been making the point. Now the world has learned the Dan Debicella was deliberately deceptive."
The Himes campaign welcomed the Fox News take. News Corp., which owns Fox News, recently donated $1 million to the National Republican Party.
"Dan Debicella will stop at nothing to advance his own political career, and now he's taken to distorting Jim's record to the point that Fox News even comes to his defense?" said Himes' campaign manager Mark Henson.
Still, Debicella stands by his quote and his view that Himes waffles.
"He has flip flopped on this issue," Debicella said in a telephone interview with Patch. "It's clear from my position that I permanently extend all 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. For Jim, he's been back and forth on the issue for the past six months. He seems to change his mind about this when it's politically convenient."
The economy ranks as issue number one for most Fairfield County voters. And whether to extend 2001 and 2003 tax rates dominates debates about how to reinvigorate the stagnating economy.
Debicella said letting tax rates expire would devastate small businesses, many of which run their tax returns into personal tax returns.
As Himes told Patch in a previous interview, the question of how long to extend the rates must be addressed. Debicella supports permanent cuts, but Himes said that wouldn't be fiscally prudent.
According to the Pew Research Center, should the cuts remain it will cost $3.3 trillion over the next ten years.
"Dan says he's fiscally conservative. How do you square that with being fiscally conservative? That's a fairy tale notion," Himes said. "What makes me frustrated is this guy manipulated what I said, and that obscures the terribly important discussion on taxes. Dan did something this week that speaks to his character. I'd always rather talk about the issues."