Congressman Jim Himes joined local residents at UConn's Stamford campus on Saturday to discuss and answer questions of concern. Topics ranged from the economy, budget, infrastructure, and health care reform.
"This year the federal deficit will come down below 1/3 of where it was, below $500 billion. That's still too big of a number, but it's a dramatic reduction relative to where we were five years ago, and we achieved this by very meaningful cuts to the federal budget. Cut that maybe three years ago, felt abstract, but today we come to feel what those cuts mean."
He says those cuts have slowed the economy's recovery.
Himes also explained health care reform has had significant benefits to the country but also challenges. He says out of the nearly 14 million people on the health care plan, about 38 thousand private individuals plans were cancelled.
"For the first time in a generation, health care inflation has been in the low single digits," said Himes. "We haven't seen that in a long time. Economists are torn on how much of that is the recession, because recession people use less healthcare and how much are some of the mechanisms that were in the health care reform law to urge costs lower. On the negative side the health care reform has been a real challenge for hospitals, insurance companies, for many doctors who are trying to get used to a new system, some of this has to do with squeezing costs. Emergancy rooms get penalized if the same person comes in week after week after week. That's a change."
Himes says he will push for more investment in local infrastructure projects.
"Put people, to work," said Himes. "We are going to spend the money anyway. Many of you know when the Mainus bridge on I-95 fell down we are not going to tolerate that."