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Democrats Propose War 'Surtax'

by Leroy Baker,, New York

05 October 2007

Three senior House Democrats are backing proposals for a 'surtax' on incomes to help pay for the cost of ongoing military operations in Iraq.

Refusing President Bush's $200 billion war supplemental request for 2008 on Tuesday, Rep. David Obey, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, argued that the administration must formulate a concrete plan for scaling down the costly operations in Iraq, or find an alternative source of funding.

"I have no intention of reporting out a $200 billion supplemental that will give the President a blank check for an entire fiscal year and I have no intention of acquiescing in a policy that will result in draining the Treasury so dry that it will result in the systematic disinvestment of America’s future," he remarked.

Obey went on to express support for a bill proposed by fellow House Democrats John Murtha, Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and Congressman James McGovern, Vice Chairman of the Rules Committee that would create a war surtax to pay for operations in Iraq.

"If the President is really serious about combating deficit spending then we’d be happy to help him avoid shoving the costs of the war in Iraq on to our kids by providing for a war surtax," Obey stated.

It is reported that under this surtax, low and middle income taxpayers would pay an additional 1% to 2% tax, while the wealthy would pay a surcharge of between 12% and 15%.

Supporters of the idea argue that similar taxes were imposed to help pay for the military in previous wars, including World War Two and the Vietnam war, but the idea is likely to be a non-starter given the lack of support among the Democratic leadership, let alone Congressional Republicans.

"Just as I have opposed the war from the outset ... I am opposed to a war surtax," House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi responded in a statement.

Unsurprisingly, the White House has poured scorn on the proposals. "We've always known that Democrats seem to revert to type and they are willing to raise taxes on just about anything," stated White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

"There's no need to increase taxes," she added. "The president has shown how if we prioritize and if we get the spending bills done in a clean way, we can actually have a surplus in our budget by 2012. We don't see any need to raise the taxes."

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