Coutu announces bid for Congress

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Region - posted Mon., May. 9, 2011
Contributed
State Rep. Chris Coutu speaks at a function earlier this year. Contributed photo. - Contributed Photo

After reaching out to constituents in Connecticut’s second Congressional district, state Rep. Chris Coutu (R-47th District) recently officially announced his decision to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-2nd District) in the 2012 elections.

“I found I have a lot of support,” said Coutu. “I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls and e-mails from people across the district who have said they would support me.”

Though some have questioned his readiness to take on Congress, Coutu will have served two terms in the state’s General Assembly by November of 2012, and feels that he is ready for a bigger challenge. “The economy, gas prices, jobs - the country is spiraling downhill,” he said. “I couldn’t just stand by idle and watch that happen.”

Though the conservative Coutu has a long list of issues that he feels need attention, he said that energy, budget policies and Social Security top his list. Regarding energy, “I think the focus has to be on all options, and not just an obsession with ethanol and other green energies,” he said. Coutu feels that nuclear energy and domestic drilling are areas that deserve attention, to help the United States move away from reliance upon fossil fuels obtained “from our enemies.”

Regarding budget policies, Coutu is concerned with the legislature’s willingness to take on ever-increasing amounts of debt. “That’s a big one,” he said. “Debt has resulted in a negative outlook for our bond rating, and has contributed to the devaluation of the dollar, which has in turn contributed to rising energy costs.”

On May 6, Coutu joined the Roger Sherman Liberty Center (a conservative lobbying group) in filing a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of Connecticut’s state budget. Named as plaintiffs are Coutu, state Sen. Leonard Suzio (R-District 13) and two others. The suit claims that the budget violates the Constitution because it includes a $2 billion hole that Gov. Dannel Malloy hopes to fill through labor concessions provided by state employees. “In 1991, there was public outrage over the state income tax,” said Coutu. “The people didn’t think it was fair.” The response, he said, was Constitutional Amendment Article 28, section 18a, which states: “The amount of general budget expenditures authorized for any fiscal year shall not exceed the estimated amount of revenue for such fiscal year.”

While Democratic leaders have dismissed the lawsuit as frivolous, the plaintiffs claim that the $2 billion hole removes a portion of the budget-making process from the hands of the legislature, where it belongs, and puts it into the hands of the executive branch. “Believe me, this is a last resort,” said Coutu. “But when something is so obviously unconstitutional, you have to explore all options. I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Regarding Social Security, the 34-year-old Coutu said that people his age have to face reality. “It’s on the brink of insolvency,” he said. “Those of us under 40, we have to believe it’s not going to be there for us.” Coutu envisions a long-term solution that will allow for the support of citizens currently drawing from the system, while at the same time allowing for younger workers to set money aside for their own retirements. “The current plan is that people like me and you get nothing,” he said.

In looking forward to 2012, “The bottom line,” said Coutu, “is that I’ve always been a big believer that the citizens need a viable choice. Right now, you’re looking at all of your representation in D.C. coming from one party. That’s something that concerns me, and I think it should concern other people, as well.”


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