Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

  End the US occupation of Iraq: Raise taxes on the rich

I've been arguing for nearly a year that the surest way for Congress to force George Bush's hand in Iraq is to raises the taxes needed to pay for the prolonged occupation. For altogether too many Americans, this has been a war without any apparent costs. That has got to stop.

In any case, Bush has shown that he'll ignore what the nation as a whole thinks about his policies. But he has always been attentive to what he calls his "base", the extremely wealthy, want from the government. So I've argued that Democrats should introduce legislation to raise taxes on the very rich to pay for Bush's war.

Finally, some members of Congress are doing just that.

Democrats on Tuesday proposed an income tax surcharge to finance the approximately $150 billion annual cost of operations in Iraq, saying it is unfair to pass the cost of the war onto future generations.

The plan, unveiled by Reps. David Obey, D-Wis., John Murtha, D-Pa., and Jim McGovern, D-Mass., would require low- and middle-income taxpayers to add 2 percent to their tax bill. Wealthier people would pay an additional 12 to 15 percent, Obey said.

The plan's sponsors acknowledged it's unlikely to pass, but Democrats have been seeking in recent weeks to compare the approximately $190 billion cost of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars in 2008 with the $23 billion increase that Democrats want in domestic programs. President Bush has threatened to veto most of those domestic spending bills...

Obey also announced that Democrats will not pass a supplemental spending bill for the Iraq war until next year, when Democrats hope public pressure could force Bush to change the course of the war.

Reuters adds:

"As chairman of the appropriations committee, I have no intention of reporting out of committee any time in this session of Congress any such (war funding) request that simply serves to continue the status quo," Obey told reporters.

Only about 25 percent of Americans support the administration's $190 billion war funding request, while about 70 percent want the proposed allocation reduced, a Washington Post-ABC News poll published on Tuesday said...

"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," Obey said...

"If the war is important enough to fight, then it ought to be important enough to pay for," Obey said.

It's the right thing to do, the necessary thing for our nation's fiscal health, as well as a smart move politically. This is what I had to say in March about leveraging a tax increase in order to end the occupation of Iraq:

Will the rich squawk that they shouldn't have to give up their tax breaks? You betcha.

Will they denounce Congress? You betcha.

Will they have some things to say to Bush as well about ending the occupation sooner rather than later? What do you think?

Now, some would argue that Republicans and Bush in particular would fight such a bill tooth and nail. And indeed they might. It's political suicide though. The American public isn't about to buy the argument that the deficit has to continue to balloon; or that actually requiring Bush to think about the cost of the war while sending ever more troops to Iraq would be out of bounds.

No, I think a filibuster of such a bill in the Senate would doom the Republicans in the '08 elections. Most Americans would cheer the Democrats for taking a firm and principled stance.

And a veto from Bush? A real possibility, though you can bet it would sharpen a lot of minds for Republicans in Congress, as they ponder how they'll explain to voters their refusal to pay for a war that they want to allow to continue.

In any case, Democrats should make clear that any veto from Bush would mean that he won't get any further funds. Either he's forced to accept tax increases on the wealthy, or he loses the funding for his war without end.

At the moment, the Democratic "leadership" in the House is pooh-poohing the Obey/Murtha/McGovern proposal. It's as if they're determined to demonstrate to the American public finally and conclusively that Democrats in Congress have neither sense nor political courage. Presented with a responsible and indeed brilliant (ahem) plan for wrong-footing the President on Iraq, far from embracing it, Pelosi and Hoyer are running in the opposite direction.

It's time to bring some pressure on your Representatives and Senators, folks. Please join me in contacting them and demanding a tax increase on the wealthy to pay for the Iraq War. Many of these members of Congress are so out of touch with reality that they'd be shocked to discover how much support there is for such an idea.

Maybe its time will finally come.

crossposted from

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