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November 18, 2012

Another View: Sen. Collins: Editorial wrong on my position on tax increases

Your recent editorial "Senators should listen to voters on taxes" (Nov. 11) wrongly claims that I've rejected what you call "a balanced approach" to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff" -- the combination of deep, indiscriminate spending cuts and huge tax increases set to take effect in January.

Unfortunately, you have grossly mischaracterized my position and misinformed your readers.

The newspaper has the right to its own opinions but not its own facts. Facts are stubborn things, and surely fundamental journalistic standards -- not to mention fairness -- require the paper to check its facts and get them right.

The truth is I have long maintained that we must act responsibly to avoid the approaching fiscal cliff. If not addressed by Congress and the president, these mindless, meat-ax spending cuts will have devastating consequences for our national security and our economy, especially on the defense industry, which directly employs some 8,500 hardworking, highly skilled men and women here in Maine with an annual payroll topping $550 million. In addition, working families in Maine would see their taxes increase by as much as $2,000 next year.

I have repeatedly called for comprehensive tax reform to create a simpler, fairer, more pro-growth tax system that encourages job creation and economic growth.

Your editorial insinuates that I believe in addressing our fiscal issues solely through spending cuts. That is blatantly wrong. I have repeatedly said that more revenue must be part of the solution, that we must look at both sides of the ledger. I was the only Republican to vote to proceed to consideration of a bill, the so-called "Buffett Rule," which would have imposed a new minimum tax on the very wealthy.

The editorial writer apparently does not read stories about this widely covered issue, not only in national newspapers but also in this very newspaper, which ran a McClatchy Newspapers article subtitled "The only Republican to back the measure for a higher tax rate on the wealthy was Maine's Susan Collins" ("GOP blocks Buffett rule in Senate," April 17).

This paper blindly continues to depict Republicans as stubborn obstructionists, willfully ignoring the fact that I have spent several months working with members of both parties to reach consensus on a deal to resolve our fiscal challenges. In fact, according to the most recent vote studies by CQ, a respected Capitol Hill newspaper, I was rated the most bipartisan Republican member of the Senate.

Last December, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and I offered a bipartisan job creation plan that included a 2 percent surtax on millionaires. But our proposal also included a "carve-out" provision to protect small-business owners who pay taxes through the individual income tax system. That's because we recognize that while multimillionaires and billionaires can afford to pay more to help us deal with our unsustainable deficit, small businesses -- our nation's job creators -- cannot.

Your editorial calls for higher taxes on the wealthy as part of a "balanced approach" to addressing the fiscal cliff. But you make no mention of the need to protect our nation's small businesses from the impact of those higher taxes. Instead, you propose treating wealthy investors and small businesses as if they are the same. They are not, and such an approach is not balanced.

Despite the glaring errors and mischaracterizations of my position, your editorial was correct on one point: Maine voters do want Congress to compromise. We must address our nation's fiscal challenges in a responsible, thoughtful manner, and my record reflects that. It's ironic that, in calling for both parties to work together to end the dysfunction in Washington, this newspaper only further contributes to the poisonous atmosphere by launching a partisan, inaccurate and unfair attack on my record.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has served in the U.S. Senate since 1997.





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