"Obamacare" has been replaced as the current political catch phrase, at least momentarily, by "Pay as you fight."
That's the headline grabbing name (yeah, I went there, too) given to a proposal to impose a surtax on taxpayers to help fund the ever-growing Afghan war costs.
Officially dubbed the Share the Sacrifice Act by its sponsors, the would impose a surtax on most taxpayers. The levy would increase with the amount of income earned, reaching 5 percent on those in the highest tax bracket.
The legislation exempts anyone who has served in Iraq or Afghanistan since the 2001 terrorist attacks, as well as families who have lost an immediate relative in the fighting.
The bill, H.R. 4130, is sponsored by House Appropriations Committee Chair David R. Obey, (D-Wisc.) and has 10 cosponsors, including several members of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
Obey and his colleagues would like the tax to kick in for 2011. However, the bill notes that "if the President determines that the United States economy is too weak to absorb the tax imposed under this section, the President may delay the implementation of such tax for up to 1 year."
Guns and butter 2009-style: This is not the first time Obey has proposed a war surtax. He introduced similar legislation in 2007, but it went nowhere.
Now, however, the deficit keeps growing and U.S. military spending in Afghanistan reached $3.6 billion a month this summer. That comes to more than $43 billion a year, according to Congressional Research Service estimates. And if Obama sends more troops to Afghanistan, the price will go up, by some calculations, a $1 billion a year for every 1,000 troops deployed there.
"For the last year, as we've struggled to pass health care reform, we've been told that we have to pay for the bill," said Obey in a statement announcing introduction of the bill. "Now the President is being asked to consider an enlarged counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan, which proponents tell us will take at least a decade and would also cost about a trillion dollars. But unlike the health care bill, that would not be paid for. We believe that's wrong."
"Regardless of whether one favors the war or not, if it is to be fought, it ought to be paid for," said Obey. "We believe that if this war is to be fought, it's only fair that everyone share the burden. That's why we are offering legislation to impose a graduated surtax so that the cost of the war is not borrowed."
No official word from Obama: When asked about the war surtax at Monday's daily White House press briefing, Administration spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters, "That is not a specific proposal that has been talked about in a meeting that I've been at."
However, reports Tax Analysts, Gibbs did not rule out the administration's being open to such an idea.
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