Politics & Policy

Debicella, Himes Nitpick Ads

In Connecticut’s 4th congressional district, the question of the week is “Who’s fibbing?”

Democratic congressman Jim Himes posed the question first by calling his Republican opponent Dan Debicella’s latest mail piece “misleading.” MyLeftNutmeg has a photo of the piece.

In a press release, Himes’s spokesperson, Elizabeth Kerr, slams the ad:

In Debicella’s recent mail piece, he cites a Wall Street Journal article as proof that Himes voted for a 22% increase in federal spending for Fiscal Year 2009. While the total increase in federal spending from FY08 to FY09 was 22%, this figure includes spending for programs like Medicare and Social Security, which made up approximately two-thirds of FY09 spending and are funded automatically (without yearly congressional approval).

The figure also includes appropriations spending for the Defense, Homeland Security, and Military Construction FY09 Appropriations bills, which were supported by Himes’ predecessor then-Representative Chris Shays and signed into law by then-President Bush on September 30, 2008, as part of the Continuing Appropriations Act. Himes took office on January 6, 2009.

Finally, the figure includes one-time emergency spending authorized by the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), also supported by Himes’ predecessor and signed into law by President Bush.

Himes supported TARP as a candidate, but he didn’t actually vote for it, as Debicella’s ad implies. Responding to Kerr’s broadside, Debicella’s spokesperson Ashley Maagero, writes in an e-mail:

Let’s be very clear – this election is about one thing: what Fairfield County residents expect and need from their Congressman, not petty politics.  Unfortunately, Jim Himes has failed to deliver and would rather sling mud than talk about his record.  Truth is, since Himes took office, 3.8 million more Americans have lost their jobs, including one out of every ten Fairfield County residents.  Himes has failed to help small businesses, voted for the stimulus package, authorized a massive increase in spending and racked up unprecedented national debt, all while supporting government bailouts.

Jim Himes’ smoke and mirror attacks are meant to distract voters from his failed record of voting 95 percent of the time with Nancy Pelosi, neither of which Fairfield County residents want.  Based on the polling we’re seeing, we understand why Himes is running from his record, but he can’t hide from the truth.

In short, “Let’s change the subject.”

Now, Debicella’s campaign is on the offensive, highlighting a blog post in which the Connecticut Post’s design editor, Lee Steele, takes issue with Himes’s use of the paper in this ad:

Steele says:

U.S. rep. Jim Himes, who is in a tough battle for re-election, is running a  campaign commercial with a fake Connecticut Post front page showing my newspaper going all gooey over the freshman Congressman.

The mockup is flashed on the screen. It implies that we felt so strongly about his abilities, we lavished him with an all-upper-case, three-deck screaming banner headline — all because he proposed to “trim wasteful spending.” . . .

Viewers may or may not know that the mockup is just a shorthand visual reference for favorable (or uncritical) coverage Himes may have gotten. It’s meant to give weight to a bill that may or may not have legs. They article doesn’t really tell us it if does.

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