You’ve got to hand it to the propagandists at the AFP. When heavy-hitting members of the party they favor announce an idea whose main purpose is, as the New York Times suddenly “discovered” last weekend, to remind people that wars cost money and distract from supposedly more important priorities, the wire service leaps into action.
Even AFP acknowledges that the tax proposal by several top-tier Democrats has no chance of becoming law. But again, that’s not the point. Their proposal’s purpose is to remind people that spending money on wars supposedly takes money out of the mouths of children and other living things, even those in non-existent congressional districts, and to attempt to make the climate for increasing taxes in the near future more favorable.
Here are key paragraphs of the unbylined report (bolds are mine):
US lawmakers: New tax should pay for Afghan war
Influential US lawmakers on Thursday called for levying a new income tax to pay for the war in Afghanistan, warning its costs pose a mortal threat to efforts like a sweeping health care overhaul.
“Regardless of whether one favors the war or not, if it is to be fought, it ought to be paid for,” the lawmakers, all prominent Democratic allies of President Barack Obama, said in a joint statement.
The proposed “Share The Sacrifice Act of 2010″ came with Obama set to announce within weeks his decision on whether to send more US troops to fight the war, now in its ninth year.
The group included House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey; Representative John Murtha, who chair that panel’s defense subcommittee; and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank.
The proposal, a heavily symbolic measure seen as having next to no chance of becoming law, would impose a war surtax on income beginning in 2011 — though it would allow the president to delay implementation by one year upon deciding the US economy is too weak to sustain such a tax shift.
….. If the war is not paid for, its costs “will devour money that could be used to rebuild our economy by fixing our broken health care system, expanding educational opportunities and job training possibilities, attacking our long term energy problems and building stronger communities,” they said.
The measure would create a three-tiered change in income tax with the goal of paying for all of the war’s costs. Couples earning up to 150,000 dollars per year would see a one-percent increase in their regular tax level, from 15 percent currently to 15.15 percent.
For those making between 150,000-250,000 dollars per year or 250,000 dollars or above, the president would have to set the rate increase high enough to pay for the remaining war costs, and in such a way that the middle-tier earners pay half what the top earners do.
Currently, the war costs roughly 68 billion dollars per year, which would mean that the middle tier would see its rate rise from 28 percent to 29.5 percent, while the top would climb from 33 percent to 36.6 percent, according to a person familiar with the plan.
The numbers and spin in the final paragraph would appear to indicate that the administration is putting the idea out there now as a prelude to justifying what it and Democrats in general have been referring to as an end to the Bush tax cuts — something that should really be seen as a tax increase above what everyone has gotten used to during the past six years — as necessary to pay for the Afghanistan War, and to try to rhetorically hogtie gullible conservatives into acquiescing to it (“You do want our soldier to have what they need, do you not? Then you’ll just have to agree to let taxes increase”).
AFP is clearly willing to play along and try to set the stage for that.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.