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Obey Wants 'War Surtax' to Fund Afghan Effort

by Michael O'Brien

WASHINGTON, DC - Any troop increase for Afghanistan should come with a "war surtax" on high income Americans, a top House chairman said Monday.

Rep. David Obey (D-Wisc.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, warned that if President Barack Obama decides to send additional troops to Afghanistan, it should be funded with the new tax. Obey said his proposed tax would be a "graduated" tax on income that would help offset the roughly $40 billion in new costs needed to send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, a cost estimated by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Peter Orszag. (Photo: Getty Images) Rep. David Obey (D-Wisc.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, warned that if President Barack Obama decides to send additional troops to Afghanistan, it should be funded with the new tax.

"If we have to pay for the healthcare bill, we should pay for the war as well," Obey told ABC News in an interview, "by having a war surtax."

Obey said his proposed tax would be a "graduated" tax on income that would help offset the roughly $40 billion in new costs needed to send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, a cost estimated by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Peter Orszag.

"I want the president and every American to think ahead of time about what it means if you do add to our involvement in Afghanistan," Obey told ABC, pointing to the war costs that affected the presidencies and domestic agendas of Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson. 

The call for a new tax mirrors a similar demand over the weekend from Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on funding the war effort in Afghanistan. Levin told Bloomberg News that he favored an "additional income tax" on incomes over $200,000 or $250,000 to finance any troop surge.

"If we don't pay for it, then the cost of the Afghan war will wipe out every other initiative that we have to try to rebuild our own economy," he said. "I'm going to be fighting to get whatever they do paid for."
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