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Pelosi rejects tax proposal to pay for Afghan war

By Paul Kane and Ben Pershing
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) scuttled the proposed "war tax" to finance the increased troop deployment to Afghanistan, telling reporters Thursday that she would oppose the idea from her closest allies in the Capitol.

Pelosi, in her weekly press briefing, announced she would not support the proposal from House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) and others who have suggested a temporary tax on workers earning as little as $30,000 a year to fund the effort.

"I'm not in support of the proposal of Mr. Obey," Pelosi said, adding that "he is speaking for himself" with his war tax.

Democrats such as Obey oppose the new deployment -- which will place more than 100,000 U.S. troops on Afghan soil -- as a mission that is destined to fail and not in the national interest. They have latched onto the financing of the new war effort as the proxy fight for opposition to the war. This is because the only constitutional role for Congress in foreign affairs is its funding power, but also because the soaring federal debt amid a steep recession gives lawmakers political leverage in the debate.

In rejecting Obey's war tax, Pelosi did not offer other ways to finance the stepped-up war effort. President Obama has pegged the cost at $30 billion, but key lawmakers have said it will actually cost $40 billion. "When the president makes a request, we'll make a judgment about what support it has, and some of that will relate to how it affects the deficit," she said.

Pelosi's pronouncement officially ends any chance of a war tax, as she now joins Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in opposing that plan. They have suggested that taxing almost all workers during a recession would have a negative drag on the economy.

Republicans, who have generally supported the troop deployment but criticize the idea of bringing troops home starting in July 2011, have offered a variety of methods for funding the war effort.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested using unspent money from the $787 billion stimulus legislation approved in February. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Jerry Lewis (Calif.), the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, have suggested that almost $35 billion could be pared off the annual spending bills for federal agencies, which must be approved in the next few weeks.

Democrats have, so far, rejected those offerings.

By Paul Kane  |  December 3, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Dem. Leaders , House , Purse Strings  
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Next: House votes to make current estate tax permanent


Here's an idea - why don't all those lawmakers who voted for the U.S. to invade Afghanistan tithe themselves 10% of their assets for payment? Granted, it may not reach 40 Billion, but it would show how seriously they take their responsibilities.

Then perhaps a surtax of those who have profited by our invasion.

Finally, and only then, a tax on the vast majority of citizens who had no say in the decision and whose ranks are supplying the "boots on the ground" in harms way.

Posted by: shadowmagician | December 3, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

We Met the Enemy and they Where U.S.

In a time when the U.S as a nation is worried about keeping a job or even finding one. The forefront of our mind being weather we can put food on our table & keep a roof over the head for our families. We sometimes fail to ask the questions on as how we got into this position in the first place. Quoting saying “can’t see the forest through the trees" And sure there may be a lot of causes and reasons. In this time it seems like every public official offering a way out of the sand trap…

One may want to review the wear powers act.

Posted by: forever2again | December 4, 2009 2:44 AM | Report abuse

I don't think this government quite gets it yet...the american people are sick of the taxes that are used recklessly by our government and we are not giving any more. They gave billions in stimulas for jobs over seas...that really helps us taxpayers out...yeah the jobs you sent overseas...BECAUSE WE AIN'T PAYING ANYMORE!

Posted by: galario | December 4, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

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