CT’s U.S. House Delegates: No Apologies for Spending, Regulation

by Categorized: Economic Development, Economy, Politics, Public finance Date:

The message was clear Thursday as Connecticut’s five representatives in the U.S. House gathered in Hartford to talk about economic matters.

We need to invest.  We need to spend.


DeLauro, Larson, Courtney, Himes and Esty
Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant


Whether it’s high-speed rail, advanced airline navigation systems, basic research, Head Start programs for kids, maintaining military bases, Obamacare or the Connecticut River dikes, the answer is consistent. When it comes to discretionary use of taxpayer money, this group of Democrats makes no apology for the role of government.

“We’ve got to find ways to fund these investments,” Rep. Elizabeth Esty of the 5th District said, speaking of several transportation concerns, including upgrading ports to handle the giant generation of ships that will pass through a widened Panama Canal starting next year.

Her comment epitomized the forum, organized by the MetroHartford Alliance and the New England Council, and was uttered in some way by at least three of the other four members of Congress. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, 3rd District, always colorful when talking about the opposition, said of Republicans who have cut back on federal spending for medical research, “It’s really the Flat Earth Society that we’re dealing with.”

Rep. Jim Himes of the 4th District in Fairfield County focused less on spending and more on regulation, as a member of the financial services and intelligence committees.  He backed strong bank regulation, but said he’s not bashing Wall Street or calling for a breakup of the mega-firms — logical, considering his district.

“It’s a lonely notion sometimes but our financial services industry  is one of this country’s competitive advantages,” Himes said.  “The much maligned Dodd-Frank reform act, he said, “clarified a lot of the procedures that will be used when, and I don’t say ‘if’,’ it’s when, the financial services industry stumbles again.”

In every case, spending and regulation was said to be not a means to uphold the economy but an investment in the future — an idea that came into widespread political favor among Democrats relatively recently, as the moral argument for social spending, and the economic argument for defense spending, has met with increasing belligerence among Republicans who favor deep spending cuts.

The most obvious example is the military, where Rep. Joe Courtney, 2nd District, of the Armed Services Committee, said it’s unlikely the House will approve the dreaded base realignment and closing commission that Obama’s Pentagon wants. “My prediction is that it will be rejected just like last year,” he said, adding that Connecticut’s major military contracting programs appear to be on track for fiscal 2014.

On furloughs of civilian Department of Defense employees, forced by the sequester, Courtney said, “We’re talking about critical stuff.”

Rep. John Larson of the 1st District even defended one of the hot-button words that’s an unmentionable in anti-spending Beltway circles. “Earmarking is a very important thing,” Larson said. “It got pretty much destroyed because it was misunderstood.”  His explanation: The House’s ability to set priorities for local district projects, such as the Army Corps of Engineers repairs of the river dikes, went down with the crackdown on earmarks.

Look for Larson’s comment to surface out of context when and if he runs for president.

All of it was almost too much for Mickey Herbert to bear. “An hour-and-a-half discussion and not one mention of the deficit and the debt,” said Herbert, former CEO of ConnectiCare and now head of Connecticut operations for Harvard Pilgrim. “I was about ready to come out of my shoes.”

Larson later pointed out that he did refer to the fiscal crisis, by way of defending health reform. “The debt is driven by health care costs,” he said. He supports a plan advanced by Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini that would add efficiency to the health system — what Larson called a paradigm shift away from the old standoff over spending and taxing.

“Here’s this stuff staring us in the face,” Larson said, “and we’re having an argument about ‘Tastes Great, Less Filling.'”




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11 thoughts on “CT’s U.S. House Delegates: No Apologies for Spending, Regulation

  1. Mike Stamper

    “Investments”? Squandering money on pork or on pet projects for special interests can hardly be called “investing”. When will we get over the idea that politicians can create wealth? Their “investments” are mostly fantasies financed by other peoples’ money. Not only do most of these projects fail, the opportunity cost of diverting billions of dollars from productive citizens is never mentioned. And the short term benefits of so-called “social spending” are obliterated by the long term cost of inter-generational dependency and the social pathologies wrought by cradle to grave welfare. Of course, none of these terrible consequences matter to our elected elite. They’ll just go on spouting the same rhetoric as if none of their disastrous policies went awry. And we’ll keep re-electing them, year after year.

  2. walls

    The dems said, “We need to invest. We need to spend”. Implied with that is, “We need to tax”. Standard dem mantra.

    “An hour-and-a-half discussion and not one mention of the deficit and the debt,” said Herbert, former CEO of ConnectiCare. Of course not! These are **dems**. What utter morons!

  3. nutmegger no more

    How ironic that Rosa DeLauro suggests that those in favor of fiscal responsibility are “flat earthers”. She has been observed to be a flat header and “windbag in a scarf” by the left leaning Washingtonian magazine when she was judged to be among the most ineffective members of Congress. In the private sector when investments are important and needed, business trims other spending to afford the strategic investment. Let Congress do the same. Our federal budget and economy are in a shambles and these folks do not want to make the tough decisions.

  4. Bob Fortier

    Still trying to figure out the logic and sense of Larson’g comment about ‘Tastes Great, Less Filling.’
    These people are so out of touch with how the rest of us work and live, that it continues to amaze me why voters keep sending them back to D.C.
    47% of Americans need government assistance to survive, and they pat themselves on the backs as if they are making progress? I saw Blumensue at the VA hospital the other day. I went up to him and asked him how his time in Viet Nam was…his answer…”thank you”. Maybe we need an exam before we are able to vote. Sickening…just sickening…

  5. sue

    These people are nothing but SOCIALISTS. They love to tax and spend. As happened in CT when they can’t get enough money from the rich they will TAX THE MIDDLE CLASS. That is why barrack needs to take back the house in 2014 and hold the senate. HIS SOCIALIST PLAN is for a 20% – 30% VAT. I warned you about the ‘RATS in CT. Well these ‘RATS are just as bad.

  6. pete

    Remember Jimmy Boy Himes once worked for Goldman Sachs. This is the firm that would have gone bankrupt because of its bad bets with AIG. The US Gov’t a/k/a WE THE AMERICAN TAXPAYERS bailed out Goldman to the tune of $20 yes $20 BILLION. How much stock does Jimmy boy and his family trusts hold in Goldman Sachs. Without the bailout he would have been bankrupt. Does he have offshore accounts. How much is HE worth. Why doesn’t he show us his tax return. I bet he is worth more than Mitt Romney. Why doesn’t the liberal rag HC ask him

  7. Patrick

    They want to regulate banks, meanwhile people will be paying penalties for not having health insurance at the same time companies like Aetna are reporting record profits. Those who can “afford” health insurance are required to pay for those who supposedly cant, and insurance companies can charge whatever they want unlike a free market where they can only charge what the market will bear.The CEO of Aetna is making millions and millions because he is making the company billions and billions. Instead of saving for my kids college, I am paying $20k/yr for crappy coverage,with a $7500 deductable,for my family of 4 and 1 employee. No mention of that kind of atrocity.
    Cowards with giant egos, and they just keep getting elected.

  8. JM

    No surprise here…5 out of touch politicians with reality, where reality means living within ones means. But that is what Americans at the individual, coporate and public levels do best, by taking on enormous amounts of debt. Someone said that a government is a reflection of it’s people. CT’s delegation is proof positive. We’re doomed. Probably not in the next few years, but down the road towards the later half of this decade. In the meantime, continue to look for a slow but steady degradation of society.

  9. David Dean

    Nice to see you all have the answers up there. While one thinks this and the other thinks that, and it is, that with either this or that, you lose as much as you win in what ever comes about because of it. So why don’t we all, each and everyone of us, put all our faith and trust in the political process and in the politicians that will be our saviors and sit back and relax and let our politicians drive us all to our destination of economic and political salvation. This is not only right, but it is good as well.

  10. Billy

    I am convinced these people believe they are doing good. I can understand Larson thinkg this – dumb as a turd, but you would think Himes or Esty would question the wisdom of spending money you don’t have

  11. Be careful what you wish for

    These chuckleheads are precisely why we’re in the fix we’re in. To a Democrat, there has never been a problem that can’t be fixed with more money: poverty, education, medical care, etc. Problem is, WE’RE BROKE!

    Its only a matter of time before we tax, spend and borrow this country into oblivion. This is obvious to a rhesus monkey but not our politicians. Why face up to our massive fiscal crisis when there’s another dollar we don’t have to spend?

    Keep voting these dimwits into office and watch the continued decline of this once great nation.

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