Three top House Democrats are proposing a “war surtax” to fund the Iraq war.
“If the president really is concerned about stopping red ink, we are prepared to introduce legislation which will provide for a war surtax for that portion of military costs that are related to our military actions in Iraq,” Rep. David Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, says, according to Reuters.
The Politico reports members of the Democratic leadership say they’ll oppose any spending bills that don’t include a plan to end the 4-year-old conflict. Under the surtax proposal, taxpayers would pay extra taxes — ranging from 2% to 15% based on income — designed to raise $140 billion a year for the war effort.
Ways and Means ranking GOP member Jim McCrery shoots it down:
Ways and Means Ranking Member Jim McCrery (R-La.) issued the following statement today in response to a Democratic proposal to impose a new surtax of up to 15 percent to pay for the costs of the War on Terror.
“This proposal would be detrimental to our economy and our national security. It has become clear over the past year that the Majority’s response to any public policy issue is to raise taxes, but this is ridiculous. Trying to coerce the American people into cutting and running from Iraq with the threat of an astronomical tax increase is cynical and transparent.”
Nothing screams impotence louder than a desperate, last-ditch effort to tax the war on terror to death.
The House Dems are stalling. This is how they support the troops:
Frustrated by the stalemate over Iraq, House Democrats spelled out a strategy that would stall action on President Bush’s 2008 war budget and rely on incremental funding to sustain troop operations in until next spring.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates outlined an almost $190 billion request last week for the military in Iraq and Afghanistan over the coming year. But House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D., Wis.) said this morning that he had “absolutely no intention” of reporting out a bill this year to fund “any such request that simply serves to continue the status quo.”
Instead, Democrats appear likely to provide short-term funding in the range of $40 billion to $50 billion to sustain overseas operations as part of final House-Senate negotiations on a pending budget bill covering the Pentagon’s core costs for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. The Senate is to take up that measure today, and the appropriations leadership is hopeful a House-Senate agreement can be sent to the White House before Thanksgiving, when a final decision will have to be made about ensuring troops in the field have adequate funds.
See continuing coverage of developments in Iraq, including an interactive map of day-to-day events in Iraq and a tally of military deaths.
Rep. John Murtha (D., Pa.), who manages the defense bill, said this could be done either in the form of an expanded transfer authority within the core bill, which totals about $459.6 billion, or with added emergency funds.
Absent some action, the Army’s operations funds would run dry in early January, but if Congress were to add $40 billion to $50 billion in emergency funds, it would be enough of a cushion to avoid major disruptions.
Such “bridge funds” have been used in the past to help finance the war, but in those cases, Congress felt it was necessary to add money because the administration had not submitted a full-year request. What’s changed now is that the White House is poised to ask for the full sum it thinks it needs in 2008, but Democrats, trying to force more change in U.S. policy, are proposing to hold back most of the request.
Brian Faughnan crunches the numbers:
Is it really wise to propose a series of mammoth tax increases at a time when the economy is slowing down and the federal fiscal picture is improving so dramatically? And even if Democrats are confident that their tax increases won’t harm economic growth, it’s worth remembering that the taxpayer burden is higher than it has ever been before…while Democrats pitch this as a shared sacrifice to pay for the war, that claim doesn’t hold water. Even they know that money is fungible, and they have proposed huge spending increases. Legislation passed by the Democratic Congress calls for an increase in federal spending of $21 billion in 2008, and $190 billion over the next 5 years. SCHIP will add to federal spending and so will an education reauthorization, farm programs… you name it.
It would be gratifying if Congressional leaders simply admitted that they want to spend far more than Republicans, and that they will need huge tax increases to do so. That type of candor would be refreshing.