Compromise was in full play earlier
this year when the House and Senate
passed a version of No Labels' "No
Budget, No Pay" decree, which Presi-
dent Barack Obama signed into law on
February 4. The measure, which states
that members of Congress should not
be paid if they cannot pass a budget,
was attached to legislation temporarily
raising the debt ceiling and, accord-
ing to proponent Himes, serves as a
"really good signaling mechanism."
When Himes becomes frustrated with
the fighting and partisanship, he pays
a visit to the old Senate chamber,
where Massachusetts senator Charles
Sumner was nearly beaten to death by
Congressman Preston Brooks in 1856.
Remembering that moment in history
puts the current struggles into per-
spective. "So I say `well, at least we're
not that bad,'" Himes laughed.
Tackling the Issues
In addition to the responsibilities of
his district and his partnership with
No Labels, Himes is tackling some
tough problems in Washington. When
it comes to one of the biggest issues
today, fixing the deficit, Himes does
not mince words.
"It's not a debatable proposition the
number one thing we need to do for
fiscal stability is to control healthcare
costs," Himes said. "We have $16 trillion
in debt. We have a $10 trillion unfunded
liability in Social Security, and a $40 tril-
lion unfunded liability in Medicare.
"When was the last time you heard a
member [of Congress] say we should
put medical equipment and drugs out
to competitive bid?" he continued. "It's
a well-known mechanism for reducing
the costs of wheelchairs and oxygen
and this and that. You don't ever hear
people talking about it."
Today's healthcare policies, Himes ac-
knowledges, are "unbelievably com-
plicated" and often involve emotional
decisions but are a key part of the
equation "in a world of OPEB and net
present value and pension obligations
and future retiree healthcare costs."
The right answer, he says, is to reduce
healthcare costs and find a balance of
revenue increases (preferably through
loophole closing) and spending cuts.
Sound familiar? It's a philosophy he's
championed twice before: the Simp-
son-Bowles plan for federal budgeting.
How You Can Help
The No Labels homepage hosts a sim-
ple interactive action step: "Tell your
leaders to be Problem Solvers."
While Himes admits representatives in
certain districts may be more reluctant
to sign up than others, this is a step he
urges constituents to take.
"There's nothing to be lost by advocat-
ing and trying," he said. "Look, at the
end of the day, so long as No Labels
does in fact stay nonpartisan, so long
as it serves a positive purpose in build-
ing relationships and encouraging bet-
ter dialogue, why would you say no?"
Whether or not representatives choose
to be a part of No Labels, Himes be-
lieves it's critical that constituents send
a clear message about accountability
"We're going to behave a lot better
when our constituents demand we
behave a lot better."
The No Labels
Congressman Himes is a member
of the No Labels "Problem Solvers,"
a group of House and Senate
members who meet regularly to
build trust across the aisle.
Interested in learning more
about No Labels?
· Read "CTCPA Leaders and
Staff Attend No Labels' Meeting
to Make America Work" on
page 6 of the March/April
issue of Connecticut CPA.
· Attend the Essential Event:
The CTCPA Annual Meeting,
where No Labels Co-Founder
Jonathan Miller will participate
in a panel discussion on
"3 Ways You Can End
· Go online to www.nolabels.org.