Jim Himes recently sent out an update-to-constituents email that has a lot of his supporters fuming. Jon Kantrowitz at My Left Nutmeg has a lengthy post up about it. Here’s the offending piece of the email:
It is clear that the next several years will be the economic equivalent of threading a needle. While we address the massive unfunded liabilities associated with Social Security and Medicare (now well in excess of $50 trillion), we will need to identify the moment at which our nascent recovery is self-sustaining and put on the brakes. If we are to avoid inflation, interest rates will need to go up and government spending will need to go down. Both of those things will be enormously unpopular, but the Federal Reserve and the Congress will need to remember that inflation is far more damaging.
Progressive Democrats are looking at this as a betrayal, mainly because, as national blogger Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake points out, the numbers that Himes is using come from a conservative billionaire who is apparently creating worst-case scenarios in order to scare legislators into, among other things, cutting back on Social Security benefits. Himes is also promoting pay-as-you-go legislation, which many progressives feel can be misused to block the Obama legislative agenda.
In essence, they see Himes talking like a conservative Blue Dog Democrat. Jon Kantrowitz writes:
I guess you are really worried about being re-elected. But this is not why I voted for you (and contributed generously to your campaign.)
The thing is that Himes shouldn’t be worried about re-election, as Kantrowitz accuses. The shifting demographics of the 4th district favor Democrats, and he should be able to raise enough money to ward off any potential challengers. John McKinney will likely be his opponent, but is he that much of a threat?
Himes actually wrote a response in the comments that seemed partly well-measured and partly testy, but I don’t think that his critics are appeased. Hamsher continued to press him, criticizing his response.
Why does this matter for Himes? Well, these are the people who enthusiastically volunteered, contributed and even helped to run his campaign against Chris Shays. He can’t afford to alienate them. It’ll be interesting to see how he continues to handle this issue.