Both public investments and the taxes that pay for them — the two sides of our collective finances — touch almost all Americans.

My work in the health-care field was significantly affected by government spending decisions on Medicare, Medicaid, veterans benefits and many other programs. As a taxpayer, I’ve been among those whose rates have been debated, raised and cut in successive federal administrations.

Tax and spending decisions are not abstract or distant concepts, but rather concrete and personal concerns. This fact is important for citizens to remember as Congress convenes in special session to address our debt crisis.

Hundreds of billion of dollars in revenue and expenditure decisions must be made before the end of the year, or else automatic tax increases and spending cuts will kick in, very possibly sending us into another recession (the so-called “fiscal cliff”).

In this budget deliberation, as has often been true in the past, our two U.S. senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, can play a pivotal role in forging a compromise.

Almost alone among their colleagues, they can navigate between the Republican distaste for taxes and the Democrats’ desire to protect investments in the middle-class such as improved health care, road and bridge building, scientific research and education.


Since President Barack Obama and Congressional Republicans already have agreed to a trillion dollars in spending cuts over the next decade, an agreement on revenue increases should be next on the agenda.

A reasonable start would be to allow tax cuts to expire on the 2 percent of American households with annual income greater than $250,000. This simple act would raise $100 billion every year, money that could be used to reduce debt and strengthen important public investments. It would represent a sensible balancing of taxes and spending.

Marian Schmidt


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