Tuesday, March 11, 2014
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Maine Republican U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe
"Small business owner-operators are on the front lines of our economy," Collins said. It did not appear that Collins' support for extending tax cuts for lower- and middle-income families was contingent on a small-business exemption, however.
Snowe said she had not read the specifics of Collins' proposal but endorsed the concept. But Snowe was critical of the on-again, off-again negotiations as well as all of the "posturing and press statements" from both sides.
"It is imperative that they meet every day -- whether the principles or their staff -- to move this process forward," Snowe said.
Like other rank-and-file lawmakers on both sides, Maine Democratic Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree have largely avoided showing their hands to the opposing side on areas of possible compromise.
Pingree, the delegation's most liberal member, has signed on to a petition that aims to force the majority House Republicans to hold a vote on the Senate Democrats' plan to extend tax cuts only for those earning $250,000 or less.
Pingree also indicated Wednesday that she would oppose cuts to such entitlement programs as Social Security and Medicare. Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, majority shareholder of MaineToday Media, publisher of the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel.
"Most Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries are already struggling to make ends meet," Pingree said in a statement. "I have significant concerns about any deal that includes cuts to these programs that would affect the most vulnerable or does anything to privatize either of these programs."
Michaud didn't endorse any specific plan as the negotiations continue.
"I'm willing to look at everything," Michaud said. "I know Speaker Boehner has been talking about some of the tax loopholes, which I think definitely have to be looked at."
Extending any tax cuts will open up a budget hole that will have to be filled, Michaud said. So the current fiscal crisis could present an opportunity for both tax and spending reform, he said.
Washington Bureau Chief Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at: