Monday, August 29, 2011

Is Raising Taxes on Our Troops Really A Good Idea?

There's a New Front in the War on Vets:

Should we raise taxes on their survivors?
For decades, Marines at Camp Lajeune and their families were given drinking water tainted by carcinogens. This caused many sicknesses and some deaths. After endless studies, Congress is thinking about paying for the health care of the survivors, but there's a problem: money.
How should they raise the money? Who should pay?
Who do YOU think should pay?
If you thought that maybe this was a problem that ALL Americans should contribute to solving by paying taxes, think again! Everybody "supports the troops" but who wants to pay taxes! Which members of Congress wants to sponsor a bill that has the word "tax" in it?
The Caring for Camp Lejeune’s Veterans Act, S.277, will provide medical care for almost a million service members and their dependents who were exposed between 1957 and 1987. But it doesn't pay for the care by any means you might expect. Instead, the idea tacked onto the bill at the last moment (and without any puiblic hearings) by Sen Richard Burr (R-NC) is to raise the money from the troops themselves! 
Raise the money from the troops themselves! Genius!!
This is not technically a tax hike because it doesn't have the word "TAX" in it, but it is a way to make servicemembers pay the government more money ... so, after all, it is a kind of tax. Here's how it works:
Source: Military Times
Servicemembers, veterans and their families get lousy pay, but they have Commissary privilege: the right to buy groceries and stuff at "Commissary" stores that sell at cost, plus a small markup to cover expenses. This can be a significant benefit to poverty-stricken troops, many of whom are on foodstamps anyway. The bill seeks to streamline the Commissary system by merging it with the post exchange system, which has higher prices (because it is intended to raise money for programs like the USO.) This will result in Commissary customers paying the federal government hundreds or thousands of dollars more per year - and without any offsetting pay hike. What a brilliant way to increase taxes without voting on a bill with the word tax in it!
You may say that, even after the proposed tax hike, Commisaries would be a good deal ... but the Commissary has always been part of the pay package for servicemembers. If you increase the cost of their groceries but don't increase their pay, you are effectively taxing servicemember pay to cover health costs - are you going to increase their pay to compensate? And the veterans will be paying more too: do they get a pay increase as well?Is this really a good idea?
War Surtax:
Paying for our wars, and their effects like the poisoning of Camp Lejeune, should not be that complicated. If we're going to fight two-and-a-half wars, we need to pay more in taxes to cover them. The money is coming from somewhere, and it's just dishonest to pull it out of the pockets of our troops ... and/or our children. We could solve the problem with a simple War Surtax: whatever you pay in federal taxes, add a little more to help with our wars. If we don't want to pay a War Surtax, maybe we should re-think fighting these wars.
What we shouldn't do is raise taxes on our troops to pay for the results of our wars. 
Let Your CongressCritter Know What You Think On This. If you don't act, it's going to happen!

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