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Himes Talks Politics, Economy With Weston

Scores of Weston residents gathered at Town Hall on Monday to meet with U.S. Rep. Jim Himes . The 4th District congressman spent an hour answering a multitude of questions on a range of topics, including U.S. foreign policy and genetically modified foods.

The main focus, however, was the economy. "We, very soon, must have a plan and begin executing a plan for fiscal sustainability or we will soon be forced to do so with our creditors," said Himes, a Democrat from Greenwich.

For some, the answer lies in a fundamental change within American culture. "We need to learn how to do more with less," said World War II veteran Hal Matthews. "One of the main reasons we're in the deep trouble we're in today is excess. Excess in every aspect of the way we live."

Several people used the word "atrocious" to describe health-care reform, the effectiveness of Congress and war strategy.

"We, militarily, are simply spread too thin," said Kenneth Casanova. "We're trying to solve problems with force in situations where there is a much more skillful way of doing things."

Himes was clear in his thoughts on one war. "I think Iraq was a mistake," he said. He also noted his dissatisfaction with America's role in Afghanistan but remained vague on specifics. In the end, it was issues such as health care that charged the crowd.

One woman said her health insurance costs increased by 58 percent after the health care legislation passed last year. Himes said the reform offers Americans unprecedented access and options, but it is not perfect.

"Do some of the things in the reform ... succeed in, over time, cutting the cost curve? We don't know. And we probably could have been stronger in that regard," said Himes, who was elected to his second term in November.

Himes defended his votes in his first term, saying "we're in sort of a funny moment right now" with unemployment staying high as the stock market gains strength.

"I believe that cutting the budget substantially in the last two years would have been a mistake," Himes said. "It would have added to the weight of the economy and perhaps increased the low that we hit in the recession. The question is what do we cut, when and how much?"

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