Politics & Policy

Debicella, Himes Tussle over Taxes

State Sen. Dan Debicella tells Battle ‘10 that his opponent, Rep. Jim Himes, has had “an election-eve conversion” on the Bush tax cuts.

Debicella, a Republican running in Connecticut’s fourth congressional district, has ruffled Himes’s feathers by disseminating video of an August town-hall meeting, in which Himes, responding to a question about the cuts, 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. So I need to look at that small business tax cut.”

Himes says he’s always supported extending the cuts at all income levels until the recovery solidifies and he points to a letter he sent to President Obama in January, which asks for such relief. On her television program “On the Record,” Greta Van Susteren interviewed Himes recently, mentioned the letter, and said, “I hope your opponent sees that this is not an election-day conversion.” Himes’s campaign has been circulating video of the comment ever since, crowing, “Even Fox News Calls out Debicella Deception.”

But Debicella notes that in 2008, when Himes was running against then-congressman Chris Shays, he said “Never in the history of this country have we cut taxes going into a war,” suggesting he opposed their extension. “I will let the voters decide which they think is more plausible: that a politician actually had a change of heart on a major issue 50 days before an election or that he changed his position for political reasons. I think the voters will know the answer to that,” Debicella says.

For his part, Debicella supports a permanent extension of the cuts at all levels. On Van Susteren’s program, Himes ridiculed Debicella’s position: “On the other side people are saying some truly ridiculous things, like ‘I’m a fiscal conservative but I support making these tax cuts for everybody permanent.’ That is fairy-dust, fantastical thinking that has no basis in reality.”

Debicella’s responds, “It is laughable that after voting for $3 trillion of new debt in the last twenty months that Jim Himes is going to criticize anybody as being fiscally irresponsible.” He concludes, “Our latest internal poll shows us tied 45 to 45; it’s going to be an extremely close race. It is going to be about the issues: the economy being number one and the deficit being number two. They are the issues on voters’ minds right now.”


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