Just a few days after declaring her candidacy for Congress, former State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones already started taking hits from Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis, her opponent for the GOP nomination.
Lewis, who's also vying for New Mexico's 1st District US House seat, sent an e-mail to supporters last Thursday accusing Arnold-Jones of agreeing with President Obama's sentiment that it's already Congress' job to balance budgets. It goes on to criticize her for not signing Americans for Tax Reform's infamous "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" that's arguably the elephant in the room to the current crisis to raise the nation's debt ceiling. Nationally, 236 representatives and 41 senators have signed the pledge, the brainchild of conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist. It bars them in words from voting for a tax increase of any kind.
"As long as I was a legislator, I refused to take any pledge," Arnold-Jones tells SFR. "I'm a fiscal conservative and don't believe in raising taxes, but I refuse to sign a tax pledge that goes to a certain group. My oath and allegiance is to New Mexicans."
Lewis' e-mail also takes her to task for making a statement "that echoed President Obama's sentiment that we don't need an amendment to balance the budget because balancing the budget is already a part of Congress' job anyway."
It refers to something Arnold-Jones recently said on Bob Clark's radio show when she called the addition of an amendment requiring a balanced federal budget a "red herring" in the Cut, Cap and Balance Act passed by the House last week. While she says she would support such an amendment, she points to the length and difficulty of amending the Constitution, evoking the decades-long failed effort of the Equal Rights Amendment. What's more important is reducing debt now, she argues.
"To trade off something that has to be done now — reduction of the debt — to something that's not ideal, I think is wrong," she says. "It's coming at the immediate expense of reduction."
Although she would have voted for the Cut, Cap and Balance Act "to get the ball moving," Arnold-Jones says it would have gone far enough. "Everything in it was over [the course of] 10 years," she says. "We don't have 10 years. We have to deal proactively with debts and deficits over the next three years."
As for agreeing with President Obama on something, "I'm a Republican and have proffered to the president occasionally," she says. "Do we disagree on things? Of course. But sometimes people are right and it's OK to say so."
A faster way to enforce balancing federal budgets is to make it a House rule, she says. But Dan Lewis says that under such a rule, a balanced budget could still be vetoed by the president and not enforced in the Senate. As for the "no new taxes" pledge being only to a special interest group, Lewis argues that's not the case.
"The pledge is saying 'I will not support a tax increase,'" Lewis tells SFR. "She has stated she does not agree with that statement."
Lewis says he's also not happy she's making personal attacks. An Arnold-Jones e-mail to her supporters says "as a pastor, [Lewis] should have known better than to allow something other than the truth to be sent."
"She clearly wants to make this personal," Lewis says. "I'm going to focus on the issues."
Welcome to another campaign season.
Lewis image courtesy of www.joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com