Thursday, June 21, 2012

Let's raise taxes to pay for our wars

Walter Pincus makes a sensible suggestion:
"Given today’s situation, why doesn’t President Obama link his request to restore Clinton-level taxes on the wealthy to the $88.5 billion requested for fiscal 2013 to pay for continuing the war in Afghanistan and counterterrorism efforts worldwide? That Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, the supplemental appropriation created to fund Iraq, Afghanistan and other military actions abroad, is expected to continue as long as the United States has troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere overseas confronting terrorists. 
For planning purposes, the Congressional Budget Office sees the OCO account running $44 billion a year through 2022. 
What about Obama, Romney or even hawkish members of Congress introducing a special excise tax on telephone calls or even Internet usage or ending some tax loopholes to pay that $44 billion a year. Taxes have been used to pay for America’s past wars going back to the War of 1812 — except for Iraq and Afghanistan."
There's an old saying: "If you want less of something, tax it." Since we have an all-volunteer military, the vast majority of Americans don't feel the effects of their country being at constant war around the globe--a situation that's persisted long enough now that most of us simply don't pay close attention anymore. Explicitly linking Americans' tax bills to those wars might give them some skin in the game--and force officials to justify their actions instead of relying on inertia to continue military operations. Which is why no such tax will be passed, probably. But it's galling to see some folks try to cut Social Security and Medicare while feeling little obligation to pay now for the wars we conduct.

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