Sen. Blanche Lincoln's day was disrupted by confusion over where she stands on a health care reconciliation vote. (At a minimum, her confusing reply to a question seems to have given rise to the issue.)
Opponent Bill Halter, meanwhile, staked out four simple objectives: 1) a promise to reject automatic congressional pay raises; 2) a vow to post his schedule on-line; 3) a vow to hold a town hall in all 75 counties every year; 4) a promise never to become a lobbyist. You can watch the entire announcement here.
At a news conference on those promises, he said in response to a question that he's in favor of the reconciliation process, though he'd have to see the final bill before he made a firm commitment on health care. Asked about some criticism of his candidacy by Democratic establishment figures like Rep. Marion Berry, Halter responded that insiders have no more votes than anyone else and those distinctions lose meaning in the voting booth.
-- Gerard Matthews
HALTER NEWS RELEASE
Little Rock – Today Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter announced four more ways he’ll be more accountable to Arkansans as a United States Senator.
Halter said, “Washington is not working for Arkansas families —and part of the reason is that so many people in Washington have just lost touch with the people they represent. I’ll be accountable to folks here in Arkansas.”
Oppose Automatic Pay Raises“I believe that it’s important for people to be paid for performance and when economic times are tough our elected officials should share the burden.”
Halter criticized the current congressional pay law that awards members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the United States Senate an automatic cost of living adjustment each year unless Congress passes legislation rejecting the pay raise for the year.
“Few folks in Arkansas get an automatic pay raise, especially in today’s economy. Congress shouldn’t be any different – especially given the terrible job they’ve done controlling the budget deficit. I will oppose any pay raise as long as there is a federal budget deficit. And if others in Congress let a pay raise go into effect, I’ll donate my increase to charity.”
Halter has completed his pledge from last year to donate his Lieutenant Governor pay increase to Arkansas charities that are helping Arkansas families in these tough economic times.
Hold Town Halls in all 75 Counties Every Year
”I’ll hold town halls in all 75 counties every year so all Arkansans will have a chance to talk with me in person and to let me know their concerns. Arkansans will know that they can talk to me directly in their own county without an appointment and without making a campaign contribution,” said Halter. “My priority is to be accessible to all Arkansans rather than powerful insiders and lobbyists. “
Schedule Publicly Available Online
“To improve accountability and bolster public confidence, I’ll make my schedule publicly available online so any Arkansan can know who I’m meeting with when legislation affecting middle class Arkansas families is being developed.”
Never Become a Lobbyist Halter concluded by pledging to, “never become a lobbyist. The revolving door used by lobbyists and legislators only serves to fill the pockets of special interests while ignoring the needs of Arkansas families.”
“During my career I’ve worked in both the private sector and public service. After completing a stint in public service, I have never become a lobbyist and I never will. When so many public officials move from their positions directly into lobbyist positions, it undermines public confidence in our government.”
“Now more than ever Arkansans needs a United States Senator that they know is on their side and not on the side of special interests and insiders. Bill Halter has a record of being unafraid to take on insiders and special interests on behalf of Arkansans,” concluded Halter spokesman Bud Jackson.