War tax a wake-up call?

A proposed bill would ask Americans to help pay for the Afghanistan war.

Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., is one of 10 co-sponsors of a bill aiming to put an end to paying for the war in Afghanistan with borrowed funds. The bill, called the âÄúShare the Sacrifice Act of 2010,âÄù would impose a 1 percent surtax on taxpayers earning up to $150,000. Those earning more than $150,000 would be taxed at a higher, currently unspecified rate. Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the purse string-controlling House Committee on Appropriations, is behind the war tax. In a Nov. 30 interview with ABC News, Obey said âÄúThe problem âĦ is that the only people that have to sacrifice are military families âĦ and everybody else is blithely unaffected by the war.âÄù Certainly, the additional tax revenue would help to pay for a war that has already plunged the nation deeper into debt. But if this measure is also aimed at driving home to the public their personal stake in the war, a 1 percent tax is hardly likely to do the job. Daniel Bergan of Michigan State University, who has studied self-interest in relation to the draft and the Vietnam War, is among those who believe that a new tax is unlikely to generate self-interest to the degree of something like the draft, which puts peopleâÄôs lives in jeopardy. Yet even with an active draft, Bergan found that imminent draftees were only 18 percent more likely to favor immediate withdrawal than those whose names were farther up the list. The question then remains: What, if anything, will make this war a reality for the general public? Afghanistan is already the longest war in American history, but until the American people understand its immediate significance, they have little reason to support or oppose it.