Democrats wary of pushing for a “surtax” for the war in Afghanistan are tiptoeing into an argument that they may want to avoid. Steny Hoyer was the most recent example:
Hoyer said he is generally in favor of legislation that would institute a surtax to pay for congressionally mandated war efforts. But he pointed to the sagging economy as a primary reason not to levy new taxes on Americans.
Sen. Evan Bayh made the same argument over the weekend.
Well, it’s nice to see that Democrats appreciate the link between tax hikes and the recession. But wait: they’re considering hundreds of billions of new taxes as part of health-care reform. There’s no difference from an economic standpoint whether you’re “paying” for health-care subsidies for your neighbor or salaries for troops in Afghanistan. Taxes are taxes. If it’s a dumb idea to pass a surtax to pay for a war, then it’s equally dumb to pass taxes as part of ObamaCare. And come to think of it, until we’re out of the economic woods, it would be equally dumb to let the Bush tax cuts expire.
I’m not sure why Democrats have wandered into this minefield. But those opposed to hundreds of billions in new taxes — for whatever purpose — might want to collect these quotes. They may come in handy — if not in a debate, then in the 2010 elections.
UPDATE: Another Democrat joins the “Don’t raise taxes in a recession!” chorus: “House Budget Committee chairman John Spratt on Tuesday (D-S.C.) said he could not support a proposed ‘war surtax’ to fund troop increases in Afghanistan. Spratt said that the measure introduced by Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) would raise taxes during a recession, an uptick he believes the country cannot afford.”