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Obey Wants a Deficit-Neutral Afghanistan War

Speaking of the unclear cost of escalating the Afghanistan war, I see via David Dayen and Tim Fernholz that Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, wants to treat war spending like domestic spending:

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.

Previously, Obey had expressed his concerns over war financing as more of a pointed question. But Tim talked to his spokesman and it appears to be a rather robust proposal:

Essentially, below the $150,000 level, the 15 percent bracket for a family, there would be an increase of one percent of your current level, so for most people that would be 15.15 percent. Separate changes would happen between the $150-$250,000 income level and above $250,000, which would be set by the president depending on his eventual decision on what to do in Afghanistan; currently, the war costs about $68 billion a year, but that could increase if the White House decides to send more troops or spend more money on development projects.

Tim writes that it will be hard for Obey’s inevitable critics “to argue against this bill in good faith.” Just wait!

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