Rep. McCollum co-sponsors war tax

President Obama will announce plans for increased troops in Afghanistan on Tuesday.

by Mackenzie Martin

After months of deliberation, President Barack Obama will announce his new course of action for the war in Afghanistan on Tuesday night, and some House Democrats, including a Minnesotan, are proposing a plan to pay for it. A new bill proposed last week aims to put an end to paying for the war with borrowed money by instating a temporary war surtax. Beginning in 2011, the tax would offset the cost of increased military presence without adding to the national deficit, supporters say. The âÄúShare the Sacrifice Act of 2010âÄù would impose a 1 percent surtax on taxpayers earning less than $150,000. Tax rates for people earning more than that amount would be higher, but were left unspecified in the bill. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., one of 10 co-sponsors of the bill, said achieving stability in Afghanistan is a national security priority that should be paid for up front. âÄúIn a time of economic crisis, borrowing billions of dollars from China to pay for war in Afghanistan actually undermines our national security,âÄù McCollum said in a statement. âÄúShared sacrifice means not only committing to fight a war but also committing to pay for it.âÄù In a time of economic uncertainty, supporters of the bill worry that paying for more troops out of the national budget would only increase the deficit and take away funding intended to deal with other issues such as unemployment and health care. Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., proposed the bill as a way to offset costs from being a single big cut out of the federal budget. âÄúThere ainâÄôt going to be no money for nothing if we pour it all into Afghanistan,âÄù Obey told ABC News. âÄúIf they ask for an increased troop commitment in Afghanistan, IâÄôm going to ask them to pay for it.âÄù Rep. Jerry Lewis of California, the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, said while he supports an increase in troops and resources in Afghanistan, he strongly opposes a war tax. Lewis said a reprioritization is what is needed âÄî not a tax increase. âÄúWhile it is important that we find a way to pay for these efforts without putting our country into debilitating debt, a so-called âÄòwar taxâÄô proposed by Democrat leaders is simply not the answer,âÄù Lewis said in a statement. Lewis said that limiting increases in funding for some of the bills that remain to be passed by Congress would free up âÄúenough to pay for the lionâÄôs share of a troop increase.âÄù Obama will announce an increase in troops for the war effort in a televised address to the nation tonight at 8 p.m. ET. Obama ordered more than 20,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in March and could call for up to 40,000 more to be deployed, as U.S. commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal has advised. Currently, about 68,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan.