Maine’s two sensible senators are just who we need to steer America away from the “fiscal cliff” our nation faces at the end of this year.

That’s when tens of billions of dollars worth of indiscriminate tax increases and spending cuts kick in unless Congress acts responsibly to control our federal budget. Many Washington politicians are too stuck in rigid ideology to make the compromises necessary to fix the problem.

As Mainers, we can be proud that Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are not among them.

In addition to compromise, our two U.S. senators also embody the Maine virtue of fairness. I know this from following their public careers, but also through personal experience. As is true of so many Mainers who have reached out to either senator for help, I received some timely assistance from Collins several years ago to overcome a threat to my retirement security. Later, as mayor of Lewiston, I worked with both senators on common-sense solutions to improve the lives our fellow citizens.

Such common sense and belief in fair play are two qualities desperately needed in Washington’s coming budget, tax and spending crisis. We know we have to get our financial house in order, but we also know we can’t do it through spending cuts alone.

Large corporations and wealthy individuals must pay their fair share as part of the solution. That’s the kind of balanced approach I know Collins and Snowe can support.

They’re up against a lot of stubborn opposition, however. Even though it’s clear that any responsible plan to reduce federal deficits must include a fairer contribution from large corporations and the wealthiest Americans, nearly half of Congress has signed a “pledge” never to raise any additional revenue in any form from anyone. This includes not ending tax incentives for companies that ship jobs overseas and tax breaks for international oil companies making record profits.

Here’s another point of pride for Maine: We’re the only state with two Republican senators who have refused to sign this insidious “pledge.” Therefore, unlike too many of their colleagues, they can exercise their independent judgment in forging a balanced approach to restoring budget sanity in Washington.

A good place to start is by allowing the tax rates on the top 2 percent of households — those families making more than $250,000 per year — to rise slightly, back to the level of the Clinton administration in the 1990s, a time of unprecedented prosperity.

The lower rates these wealthier taxpayers are enjoying now were meant to be temporary and were passed when the federal government experienced big surpluses, rather than the deficits of today. Now we simply cannot afford huge tax breaks for the families that need them least.

No one likes to pay taxes, and as Lewiston mayor I worked to keep them as low as possible. As a military veteran and former police officer, however, I know how important it is for our public services to be adequately funded.

Veterans benefits kept food on my family’s table when I was in the police force and attending college at night. A government loan program allowed me to buy the house I live in. I’m grateful for my Medicare.

Without adequate revenue — raised from those best able to contribute, large corporations and the very wealthy — not only is deficit reduction impossible, but important public investments such as these that have benefitted millions of Americans are put at risk.

I know Collins and Snowe want to do the right thing. Collins recently cast a vote against legislation that would have extended tax breaks for the wealthy 2 percent, and even though she didn’t vote in support of the alternative legislation, I know that she will work in the best interest of everyone, not just the wealthy few.

I urge Mainers to contact them today to let them know you support a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

Laurent F. Gilbert Sr. was mayor of Lewiston from 2007-12.

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