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Obey Seeks War Tax; Pelosi Signals Dwindling Support for Buildup

With new polls showing increased opposition to the war in Afghanistan and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) casting doubts on her Caucus being up for another round of troop deployments, leading House Democrats are now calling for a war tax to make all Americans share the cost burden.Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.), Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.) and House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) filed legislation Thursday that would impose a war surtax to cover the estimated $1 trillion cost of maintaining a counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan over the next decade. “The only people who’ve paid any price for our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan are our military families. We believe that if this war is to be fought, it’s only fair that everyone share the burden. That’s why we are offering legislation to impose a graduated surtax so that the cost of the war is not borrowed,— they said in a statement.The bill allows for a one-year delay in imposing the tax if the economy is determined to be too weak to sustain the tax change, and it exempts military families and soldiers. Other co-sponsors include Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.).The move, a largely symbolic effort not likely to gain traction, delivers a strong message to President Barack Obama, who for months has been evaluating how to proceed in Afghanistan — and whether to boost troops in the region.The president is also contending with sinking public support for the war: A Tuesday Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 52 percent of Americans see the war in Afghanistan as not worth its costs. Forty-eight percent disapprove of how Obama is dealing with the war and, among independents, approval slipped to a new low of 39 percent.Pelosi said Thursday that she has asked her Caucus to hold fire on the matter to “give the president room to make his decision— on how he wants to proceed. But she signaled that any plan to send tens of thousands more troops overseas won’t be well-received.“There’s not strong support on the Democratic side in the Congress for a big ramp-up of troops going into Afghanistan. And I think that’s a reflection of their constituents,— Pelosi said in an interview on National Public Radio.Pelosi said that while she supported sending more troops to Afghanistan in 2007, the situation has changed for the worse since then.“Military action is more pervasive,— she said. “We see also, over the course of that time, the president of Afghanistan has proven to be an unworthy partner. We cannot fund a mission where we don’t have a reliable partner and where whatever civilian investments we want to make … will be diverted for a corrupt purpose.—The Speaker said Obama “has done a good job— communicating to key Members of Congress about the factors he is weighing in making his final decision on the matter. But, she added, Members “will not be shy about sharing their views on what he recommends.—

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