Sometimes, to hear certain politicians talk, it would seem that taxes are collected on a whim — as if they don’t actually pay for important services that we all rely on. From roads to schools to medical research, taxes are the way we pay for the things we’ve decided to do together.

As a disabled citizen, I know first hand the importance of public services. But so does everyone who drives on public roads or sends a kid to public school or checks out a book at the public library.

The taxes that pay for these services are based on ability to pay. By definition, very wealthy people have more money available to pay taxes than the poor and middle class, who are barely able to meet all their other expenses.

That’s the theory behind allowing Bush-era tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans — that tiny 2 percent sliver that earns over a quarter million dollars a year — to pay slightly more as part of a larger plan to pay down national debt and preserve necessary public services. Tax cuts for the other 98 percent of us would continue, helping us pay all those other bills.

Congress will be debating this plan at the end of the year. Sen. Susan Collins has already distinguished herself from her Republican colleagues by voting against a bill that would have continued the high-end tax cuts. Now I urge her and her colleague, Sen. Olympia Snowe, to do the right thing and be leaders in the Senate for the plan that would continue the middle-class tax cuts but allow rates to rise slightly on our most fortunate citizens, so that we can all do better together.

Barbara Buermann Johnson


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