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Jim Wellehan

Wealthy Mainer Speaks Against Inequality

The congressional "super committee" has failed to reach an agreement to cut the federal budget deficit, but the battle over taxes is continuing. At least one Maine business owner says it is time wealthier taxpayers like himself step up and pay more.

Jim Wellehan is president of Lamey-Wellehan Shoes, based in Auburn and with six stores across the state. He has signed a letter to Congress, along with 99 others who are business owners, investors and wealthy individuals in the top five percent of the U.S. economy. The letter asks federal lawmakers to pay for most of the deficit reduction with higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, he says.

"Some children are given great advantage and other children are given great disadvantage. It just makes no sense to worry about taxes rather than worry about what kind of society your kids will grow up in."

All of the signers have incomes of more than $200,000 and are willing to pay higher income-tax rates if the Bush-era tax break for the wealthy is allowed to expire.

Wellehan says the lack of political will in Washington is hurting the economy, job growth and efforts to build a green economic sector. He says it wasn't always the case.

"If you look back at anything, from the Tennessee Valley Authority to the Hoover Dam, they all required great cooperation to get things done, and they did get things done."

Those opposed to raising revenue through higher taxes say it will cost jobs and hurt business. However, recent polls indicate a majority of Americans strongly support higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations. Read more »