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N.M. Pols Vote With Parties on Tax Plan

Update: This story has been updated to clarify that the bill the House voted on Wednesday, Aug. 1 would have extended Bush-era tax cuts for American families at all income levels, not just those making $250,000 per year or more.

WASHINGTON – New Mexico’s U.S. House members – and the candidates who hope to replace them – took their political parties’ positions Tuesday on a proposed one-year extension of tax cuts for American families making more than $250,000 per year.

Rep. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján, both New Mexico Democrats, voted against a House bill Tuesday to extend tax cuts for families making more than $250,000 per year and individuals making more than $200,000. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., voted for it. The bill also would extend the tax cuts for Americans at lower income levels.

The bill passed the Republican-controlled House 256-171.

“We cannot fix the failed Obama economy by punishing job creators,” Pearce said. “The Obama proposal would raise taxes on small business, which are the engine of our economy.”

Luján and Heinrich said the Republican plan shortchanges middle-class families. Luján called it a “budget busting proposal that adds a trillion dollars to the deficit for more tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.”

“I have long supported extending middle-class tax cuts for those who make less than $250,000, which benefit the vast majority of New Mexicans,” Heinrich said.

Last week, Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, both New Mexico Democrats, also opposed a Republican plan to extend the tax cuts for the highest-earning Americans. The issue is unlikely to be resolved before the November elections as Democrats control the Senate and Republicans are in the majority in the House.

New Mexico’s candidates for Congress also took partisan positions on the tax cut proposal Wednesday.

A spokesman for Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Democratic candidate for the 1st Congressional District House seat, criticized Republicans for wasting time with a symbolic vote on an issue unlikely to pass Congress this year.

“Michelle Lujan Grisham wants to make sure millionaires pay their fair share so we can afford tax cuts for middle-class families and protect important programs like Medicare and Social Security,” said Gilbert Gallegos, Lujan Grisham’s spokesman.

Janice Arnold-Jones, a Republican seeking the Albuquerque-based 1st District seat, said the Republican proposal would encourage more investment in innovation and help bring manufacturing jobs back to America.

“I am particularly encouraged that the House moved forward with this vote even while America is in the middle of an election,” Arnold Jones said. “America can not wait.”

Heinrich, who currently holds the 1st District seat, is giving it up to run for the U.S. Senate.

Evelyn Madrid Erhard, the Democrat running against Pearce for southern New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District seat, said the tax cuts should be extended only for the middle class.

“They’ve got to start leveling the playing field for the rest of us,” Madrid Erhard said. “I don’t see that they (the wealthy) have helped our economy at all.”

Jeff Byrd, the Republican candidate opposing Luján for the northern New Mexico U.S. House seat, said it’s fair for extended tax cuts to be across-the-board.

“I personally believe that the taxes are already too high, and raising them on any level is not good for the economy,” Byrd said.
— This article appeared on page A10 of the Albuquerque Journal