David Obey’s Afghanistan war tax proposal shoots for long-awaited accountability, earning Wings of Justice
Originally published on WingsofJustice.com on December 2, 2009
“Regardless of whether one favors the war or not, if it is to be fought, it ought to be paid for.”
Rep. David Obey (D-WI) wants us to pay a war tax on the war in Afghanistan. The tax excludes those earning $30,000 or less, and a surtax of 1 percent on the amount of taxes owed for income levels up to $150,000.
Paying the price for war is something George W. Bush wanted no part of. Bush started two wars, but left out the part where people would directly sacrifice and the government pays for the war from the regular budget.
The beauty of a “war tax” is that people don’t want war and don’t want a tax — which makes a war tax that much more of a brave act.
Rep. Obey is suggesting something that is unpopular to make a point. Congress should have been paying for this war all along, and if we are going to fight these wars, we should sacrifice for that principle.
“In this war, we have not had any sense of shared sacrifice,” Obey said.
The “Share the Sacrifice Act of 2010” act vows to bring that point home.
The cost of health care, green energy, high-speed rail, COBRA subsidies, and many more areas of interest are always weighed in the mindset of “Can we afford this?” But on the subject of war, justified or not, this and other questions aren’t raised, even if the money spent on those wars could go to more noteworthy causes.
“If we have to pay for the health care bill, we should pay for the war as well.” Obey told ABC News. “I want the president and every American to think ahead of time about what it means if you do add to our involvement in Afghanistan.”
George W. Bush was the first president to get us into a war and cut taxes. No rations, no tax hikes — in fact, we were told to go shopping.
But the war tax doesn’t let us escape for the realities of the significance of war, even if the sacrifice we would share doesn’t even begin to compare to the sacrifices of our fighting men and women.
The war tax also has the divine notion of forcing Republican heads to spin: vote to justify a tax increase or vote to not support the troops.
And those Republicans, most of whom were in charge when Bush started these last two wars, can only come up with a lame suggestion of paying for the war with unspent stimulus money.
The wars Bush started continue under President Barack Obama, and we still struggle with how to pay for it all. Rep. Obey’s point is that we should know that there is a cost to war, something we haven’t seen for the last eight years.
The pundits are clear that this war tax idea isn’t going anywhere. But the war tax isn’t any less brave as a small reflection of the cost of war.
Whether the House Appropriations Chair will ultimately get his proposal passed is up to Congress and the President. But David Obey, for sticking his neck out and asking to hold the country accountable for a still ongoing war in Afghanistan, wins this week’s Wings of Justice.