In Tough Times, Himes Has Hope

A large crowd greeted Jim Himes with a standing ovation at last night’s Bedford Middle School “town hall meeting.”

The congressman handled a host of questions — about healthcare, the environment, taxes, trade, immigration, infrastructure, Connecticut’s economy, Nancy Pelosi and more — with poise, humor and plenty of policy knowledge.

It was a friendly crowd. There was one skeptic – a man who challenged the House Intelligence Committee member about Russian collusion in the presidential election — but he was countered by a Westport Republican who thanked the Democratic representative for doing “a beyond admirable job.”

The man added, “There are Republicans who stand behind you 100%.”

Congressman Jim Himes, last night at Bedford Middle School.

But the most intense moment came almost at the end of the 90-minute event.

A Jewish Romanian woman with a special needs son fought tears as she said that America today reminds her of “a police state.”

Describing “an atmosphere of doom and gloom,” she called propaganda “very powerful and subtle.”

Why, she asked, “can’t anyone call this administration on dismantling our government as we know it?”

Himes replied, “I’ve been in politics long enough to know that fear and division are very powerful tools — and that we Americans are susceptible to it. We respond to it.”

But, he added, “We also respond to hope and aspiration.” He used President Kennedy’s “ask not…” quote as an example.

Himes noted that people who are swayed by fear are “decent people.” Those of us in Fairfield County may not recognize how “hollowed out” other Americans may feel, he said. In those situations, placing blame on others is easy.

“It is incumbent on people like me to offer aspiration, so we don’t succumb to fear,” Himes continued.

He disagreed though with the Romanian woman’s assertion about the “dismantling” of our fundamental government institutions.

Himes cited the judiciary branch’s strong, quick and aggressive stand against President Trump’s “garbage” immigration ban. He also praised the role being played by the media.

“Each and every one of us needs to stand up and say ‘No, you won’t,'” Himes said.

Fairfield County has been exceedingly lucky, politically. For over 30 years we’ve had superb representation in Congress.

Stewart McKinney, Chris Shays and now Jim Himes. Republican or Democrat — it doesn’t make a difference. Our congressmen look out for all of us in this district.

Last night at Bedford, an audience of Democrats and Republicans said “thank you.”

A young Westporter asked Congressman Jim Himes a question about healthcare.

35 responses to “In Tough Times, Himes Has Hope

  1. We are lucky to have Jim represent us in Congress. I think the most important point he makes is that people who fell for Trump’s tactics of fear and divisiveness aren’t necessarily bad people. They are hurting in ways that we may not relate to here in Fairfield County.

    We as Democrats have to spend less time freaking out about Trump (despite how much there is to freak out about), and more time listening to those people, so that they can see us as their champions. Because right now they’re being hoodwinked by a Republican party that wants to take away their health care and hand the savings to the top 0.01%.

  2. Bob Stalling

    “Because right now they’re being hoodwinked by a Republican party that wants to take away their health care and hand the savings to the top 0.01%”


    • Most Westporters (or others) I know who belong to the top 0.01% would rather see 23m Americans keep their health coverage than get a tax break which is pretty meaningless to them in the grand sceme of things.

      • “health coverage” What is that ? The ACA sought to expand access to health insurance, but it did nothing to expand the supply of healthcare. Moreover, it sought to expand health insurance coverage, in part, by forcing those who did not want it to buy it. If the coercion is removed those who were coerced might choose to not buy health insurance and the number of uninsured would increase.
        According to the Trustees’ report, Medicaid and Medicare are not financially sound. Pushing people into these programs will not improve the financial condition of the programs. Himes has no plan to make the programs financially sound; no one does. Furthermore, as Gruber has made clear, the ACA was never meant to be financially sound. (Do you remember his comments about relying on the stupidity of the American people?)
        i think you are talking about the top 1.0% not the top .01%. And you have no idea what they would prefer. It is clear Himes is advocating making some people worse off in order to make others of his choosing better off.

        • Russell Gontar

          As a result of the ACA, over 20 million Americans now are able to receive the preventative care and treatment they previously did not have. Common sense will tell you that it is cheaper to provide medically care in advance of preventable problems becoming serious. We all get sick and we all need medical care, and that is why it is necessary to make sure everybody contributes to the risk pool. We all benefit as a result, just like those with a perfect driving record are compelled to purchase insurance, that’s how insurance works. Is it a perfect system? No, it is not. Can it be improved? Yes, it can. Just like social security, Medicare and Medicaid were not rolled out in their current forms, they were modified and amended many times over the decades.

    • Any by the way, there are a lot more Westporters reviving Medicaid benefits, especially our seniors, than you might suspect.

  3. Peter Flatow

    I also feel fortunate to have Jim Himes representing us and one point he made which has not gotten mentioned is the need for solutions. I for one can’t wait to see what he and others propose in a week which is a path forward on Health Care and other issues. It would be a shame if the Democrats became just another party of no. This cycle of politics and no solutions has to stop. It is killing (or has killed) our State. It was great to hear him speak to the companies being formed or growing in Fairfield County but Fairfield isn’t the problem.

  4. Bart Shuldman

    Somehow politics is actually working when it comes to reforming Obamacare. We have to remember that Obamacare is not working for many and even in Ct there is a very good chance there will be no plans left.

    One main issue of Obamacare was the very small fine imposed on a young person who opted out of Obamacare. It was cheaper doenthebyound not to join so all that entered the plans were people who were sick. What should have occurred is a hefty fine so all young and healthy people joined Obamacare and there would be the needed balance of healthy and sick people in the insurance plan. Instead it worked against Obamacare and now most plans have raised their costs so high many cannot afford the premiums and worse, plans are shutting down.

    But politics is hopefully working as moderates in the Republican Party cannot join in with the conservatives to approve a new plan that could hurt those that need help. The standoff by the moderates is not allowing what happens when Obamacare was approved-there was little dialogue and a plan approved with about 50% not written. At least now we are watching politics Hopefully work.

    There are ways to improve the healthcare plan while also driving down costs. I will remain optimistic that those moderates will hold out and force a much better plan for America.

    I am worried though, as this dialogue and negiatiations inside Washington take place and the summer recess is starting, there are people across the US that will be losing insurance under the existing Obamacare. It is broken.

    • Himes acknowledged problems with Obamacare. He said it needs fixing, and that he is part of a coalition working on 6 specific solutions. He did say that the Senate version of the “repeal and replace” bill is “really a tax bill.”

      • Obamacare was really a tax bill,

        • Russell Gontar

          The house and senate plans to repeal and replace are not “healthcare” or “health coverage” plans, they are plans to rob the poor and middle class in order to give obscene tax breaks to the wealthiest of us in this country.

          In keeping with Dan’s request, I will allow myself one more response in this thread.

        • Bart Shuldman

          Michael, as one that is paying the tax to help offset the costs of healthcare for all-please know that despite the extra tax-I support the idea. What disappointed me was the implemtation of Obamacare as it was not logical to incentivize the young NOT TO join into the plan. I also believe in a menu option for healthcare, versus the same plan for all. I would also rather see the states have much more control as it always becomes a problem when the federal government tries to manage from afar.

          If a plan can be designed that would provide health insurance for all, where it is not a single payer system such as the VA, then I would be happy to keep paying my extra tax. I would like the eventual plan to be presented to all in the US so we get to see what it being proposed before it is voted on. First the democrats did Obamacare quickly and now McConell is doing the same. Did we not learn from the past?

          As the most advanced country in the world, making sure all our citizens have health coverage is important to this republican.

          • Russell Gontar

            Hi Bart. Just to clarify, the plan for the ACA was announced in February 2009. The act was signedinto law in March 2010. There were countless hearings along the way, with plenty of public comment and of course, the GOP’s “contribution” to block and obstruct literally every step of the way.

            Republicans had seven years to come up with a replacement plan that that was supposed to be better and cheaper but they failed to do so. Instead, the house bill crashed and burned before passing by legislative shenanigans and the senate bill was drafted in secret and without ANY hearings or discussion. And oh yes, it was supposed to be done by July 4th. The democratic plan was not passed quickly, but it was done in the open and it was successful.

            • Bart Shuldman

              Russell. I agree with you that the republicans had 7 years to develop a plan and if and when they got the leadership (President) they could easily announce and implement their new ideas. But as we watch over and over again in a Washington, nothing gets done. I could say the same thing about Obamacare as democrats had 7 years to fix the issue, but did nothing.

              But that is all behind us. I want to focus on today and tomorrow. My hope is that moderate republicans will drive their interests and get a much more balanced reform to Obamacare. I am also worried as I have previously written that some if not many on Obamacare are hurting right now and with plans closing or premiums going sky high, it would be great to see a final plan in the near term.

  5. Naïve statement of the day…Unless we have a Single Payer health care system in the U.S. there will be a profit motive for health care deciders (the Insurance Industry) that will be at odds with heath care providers and our citizens. Since an American version of Single Payer is very unlikely we have to own up to subsidizing the Insurance industry (read: ensuring their profit) if we, as Americans, want to guarantee health care for all of our citizens.
    Now on the Rep Jim Himes… a smart and decent guy but he lost me early on…. two questions were asked at a Himes Town Hall meeting in Westport in April of 2009 ( just a few months after he took office) that prompted answers from Rep Himes’ that were beyond disappointing. He was asked why he supported current legislation that would levy a 100% tax on any bonus (any) paid to any employee at any bank that received a financial crisis bailout. Rep Himes stated that while he disagreed with the bill he voted for it because he was newly elected and needed to stick with party leadership. He added, as if it mattered, that he didn’t think it would become law. The other answer was more troubling. It happened to be the 10th anniversary of the Columbine shooting and he was asked if he supported or would introduce strict gun control legislation. He replied that he would not because there was no appetite for such legislation. While he was right on both counts it would be nice to take a stand based on belief rather than likely success.

  6. Hanne Jeppesen

    I don’t have time to read all the comments in detail, as I’m in a time crunch this morning. This health care debate always drive me crazy. I’m from Denmark and we have national health care, we don’t have single payer, as there are private insurance you can buy. One of the biggest difference between most of the European countries plan, is that in the US the employer provides most of the plans. Not in Europe, and most European’s would object to their health care being tied to their job. They would see it as a major lack of freedom, often forcing them to stay in job they might not want to. We did have total single payer for a number of years, but sometime in the late eighties private insurance companies started to offer coverage to those who could afford it and had the health to get coverage. Our system is not perfect, but you have a choice AND EVERYONE is covered. When it comes to healthcare the US seems really backwards, and I don’t understand why those who are wanting to change it don’t try to find out what is working in other countries. I believe in Denmark if you want the national healthcare you are charged 7% of your income, the private plans I’m not sure about. I have one family member who has had a private plan for years, he is considered upper middle class in Denmark (a retired civil engineer). His wife (my cousin) is under the national system, since she does not qualify for a private plan, due to a knee replacement.

    • Nancy Hunter

      Yes, as a Canadian I agree Hanne when you write “Our system is not perfect, but everyone is covered.”

  7. Dick Lowenstein

    What is the difference between the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare? The former is the real name. “Obamacare” was a way for Republicans to start demonizing it by attaching the name of a president they detested to legislation he sponsored. Why couldn’t the Republicans have said they want to fix ACA? That would have garnered bipartisan support for a better law.

    • Nancy Hunter

      Doesn’t Obama, himself, sometimes use the term “Obamacare”? Anyway, it does seem true that the term is used by some, not all, Republicans simply to appeal to the stubborn Trumpian base.

  8. Jimmy izzo

    As a small business owner, my own health care bill went up 48% with the Affordable Obama Care Act. The Democratic Party and Republican Party care little about this increase, or the fact that in CT. I had NO CHOICE! As long as big business (insurance companies, lobbyist for them) continue to pay off our representatives, this nonsense will continue until we are all broke. NO plan will work, Republican, Democrat until we the peoples interests are put first. Oh What plan is Representative Himes covered under? Is it a lifetime plan? Does it have a fixed cost? Co pay? Anyone know?

    • Jamie Walsh

      Well said Jimmy! I am sick and tired of the blame game… both Republicans and Democratics should find a civilized way to constructively address the collective challenges we face…until then we are doomed and look like a bunch of doofuses on the World stage!

      • Bart Shuldman

        Jamie. So true. But how? Here is a great example of what is wrong in politics. Both democrats and republicans in CT came together and made changes to the horrible 8-30g affordable housing regulation. It was great-both democrats and republicans coming together.

        However, Governor Malloy, despite the overwhelming support by both democrats and republican legislators in CT, just vetoed the charge.

        How can anything get done anywhere?

  9. Jimmy izzo

    Bart- the first step is true campaign finance reform. If Joey and Johnny are running for office the same cap must be put on their spending and donor contributions. Problem is if we truly did have real reform, went back to solving the problems in a true democracy, Washington would be out of business…corporate America would actually have to pay real taxes and loop holes would become noose holds….leadership is lip service today…all about who has the hand in pocket…then the academy award acting job comes into play…” I’m for jobs, I’m for lower taxes”…we’ve heard this song so many times it’s like Rocky XXI we all know how the movie is going to play out.

  10. Don L. Bergmann

    Single payer plan. Someday we will get there.
    Don Bergmann

  11. Hanne Jeppesen

    As an outsider (came here in 1967) I have learned that American’s like choice. As I wrote above even the Danes after years of single payer allowed insurance companies on the market, so why not give people a choice, if you are young or don’t have much money or both you could sign up under the government affordable plan, if you have the money and want more choice why not have it available. I’m also a licensed Life and Health Insurance agent (in California, although not active right now) you need a big pool to keep premiums down. I never liked the idea of the Employer being in the health care business, it puts a big burden on smaller and medium size businesses and as I said above often force people to stay in jobs they don’t care for longer than the otherwise would.

  12. Peter Flatow

    All these comments are insightful and I offer some food for thought. Yes, Jimmy we desperately need campaign finance reform and not just to address health care. For me the issue is about leadership. The Republican side has it but it appears to be owned by vested interests. I am not sure what the Democratic side has which is why I asked Jim about new (not just younger) leadership and not just in the House. I wish I better understood his reaction and answer because waiting until after the 2018 elections may be too late for the Dems. Also, the health care issue needs to be redefined. It is not about insurance but how do we keep the population healthy because increasing the number of sick(er) Americans has social and economic implications we may not like. Think homelessness in our cities (and Westport for that matter.)

  13. Dick Lowenstein

    If you’re looking for Democratic Party leadership, you heard it on Thursday night at Bedford Middle School. Jim has the brains, the personality, the gravitas, and the grace. Himes 2020 !

  14. Lisa Alter

    I’m a fan of Jim Himes – I believe he’s done a good job speaking up about the issues surrounding the Trump “administration” (and I use that term loosely – run more like a “crime family”) —

    BUT I also believe he downplayed the validity of “the Romanian woman’s” assertion that Trump/Bannon are dismantling our institutions. One only need to read through just ONE week’s events to see that Trump et al are moving our country away from the democratic Republic that we once were on a daily basis, if not hourly basis.
    Wake up, people !!!

    Of note: yesterday’s announcement of the “plan to work with Russia on cybersecurity” – yet ANOTHER example of Trump/Bannon handing a fox the keys to the hen house (AND opening the door AND saying “c’mon in, help yourself to some hens”) !

    Lisa Marie Alter

  15. Nancy Hunter

    Start at the top and work down. Let’s work toward fewer international conflicts, fewer veterans since WWII, when North America came away unscathed.
    Stop policing the world solely for American business interests. How many years has the US been at war now? Too many to consider the fortune that could be used for something as simple, rational and compassionate as a single payer system that, by its inference, works for every single person, young, old or in between.