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Fox News Backs Democrat Himes in 4th District Duel

To some people's surprise, Fox News defends Democratic candidate Jim Himes against opponent Dan Debicella's critiques.

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."

Graham September 16, 2010 at 11:24 AM
After the campaign is over, after the dust settles, after the new congress arrives in Washington, Dan Debicella is the candidate who will still be able to be called a fiscal conservative – he will still favor limited government and he will still hold the line against tax hikes. That is because holding the line on marginal tax rates is not about electioneering or temporary gimmickry, it is about economic growth and jobs creation. This is for all of those who pay taxes, for their employees, and for their customers. Real support for free enterprise, limited government, and individual liberty is not temporary.
David Kostek September 16, 2010 at 06:57 PM
A few months back there was a mini-story anbout Debicella's days as head of a student government body at Penn, when he was nearly impeached as chairma for lying to the body. The old story was more or less pooh-poohed at the time, along the lines of "youthful mistakes" and "oh, did he copy homework in algebra, too?" But now, it becomes more clear that it was indicative of a character trait. Debicella will lie if he thinks it serves his interest. From Penn's newspaper at the time: "The attempted impeachment came after several UA members accused Debicella of repeatedly lying to the body about several issues. "It was definitely more than one time," UA member and College junior Lance Rogers said. "I don't trust him now [but] I hope one day I can." Schorr agreed, saying he does not trust Debicella either and does not know if the body as a whole could trust its chairperson. Debicella said last night that he "misled the body on certain occasions." "I think this is the larger part of my mistake," he said. "It's something I thought would keep the body unified at all costs - but it's not."" When he thinks there's a useful end, Debicella is willing to lie. http://www.dailypennsylvanian.com/node/37035
Judy Starr September 16, 2010 at 11:47 PM
Is this actually the Fox network's endorsement? It sounds like Mr. Himes made a good case for himself on Ms. VanSusteren's show. But -- was there equal time there for Mr. Debicella? Perhaps there should be.
tree of knowledge September 17, 2010 at 01:21 AM
Consistency and Jim's willingness to talk the straight talk while listening and incorporating what folks in the district are saying: This is what Jim Himes has brought to the table. This district is blessed with some of the finest financial minds in the business, along with being hit with some of the most severe financial impact of the recession. Surely, the 4th Congressional district will see through the manipulative and hollow campaign nonsense being offered by Dan Debicella. As to Fox news, I'm not sure how far I would take their 'support'. 31 Congressional Democrats have now joined Jim in calling for an extension of the current tax levels, including the tax freeze on those earning in excess of $250,000. Not the preferred course in better times, but what's needed now. Now that's leadership.
Michael Dinan (Editor) October 11, 2010 at 02:57 PM
Join the Westport conversation on Himes-Debicella here -- http://westport.patch.com/articles/patch-voter-guide-the-race-for-the-4th-congressional-district-2 -- on Patch’s interactive voter guide for the 4th Congressional District race. Designed as a one-stop shop for candidate information and a place where politically minded Patch readers can interact, the guide includes Q&As with both Jim Himes and Dan Debecilla on tax cuts, healthcare and job creation. The Comments are already rolling in on this hotly contested race – join the conversation now.

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