Lewis: American Troops Need Our Support in Afghanistan, but War Tax is Not the Answer
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Jerry Lewis, Ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, today announced his support for increased troops and resources in Afghanistan following his official visit to the region last week. The trip was part of an effort to gain information regarding current and future military needs to accomplish the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and surrounding areas.
In addition, Lewis stated that while he supports an increase in troops and resources, he strongly opposes a so-called “war tax” proposed by Democrat leaders to offset the cost of any increased military effort in Afghanistan. Lewis said that a re-prioritization of spending – not a tax increase – is what is needed to provide essential resources for our national defense. Appropriations Republicans proposed a reasonable budget plan last spring that held non-defense spending to a 2% increase over last year, compared the Democrat’s 12% increase. This means the Republican plan spends approximately $35 billion less compared to the Democrat budget – freeing up most if not all of the funding needed for a large troop increase in Afghanistan.
Lewis gave the following statement on the military needs in Afghanistan and the “war-tax” proposal:
“Last week, I spoke with American troops and commanders in the field in Afghanistan. During these discussions, one thing became crystal clear – our troops must have increased support to accomplish their mission and eliminate the remaining Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists hiding throughout that region. While questions still remain on the best course to accomplish this goal, I look forward to the President’s announcement tomorrow and hope that both parties can work together to provide resources for our troops and commanders without unnecessary strings that would undercut our mission or impair our country’s ability to contain terrorist threats in the long term.
“It was also clear on our visit that the costs of increased troops and resources in Afghanistan and the surrounding region will be extensive. While it is important that we find a way to pay for these efforts without putting our country into debilitating debt, a so-called ‘war tax’ proposed by Democrat leaders is simply not the answer. This Congress must re-prioritize spending to provide for our most vital public service – national defense - while limiting non-essential domestic spending.
“Five non-defense appropriations bills for fiscal year 2010 remain to be passed by Congress – the Commerce, Justice, Science bill, the Financial Services bill, the Labor, Health, and Human Services bill, the State and Foreign Operations bill, and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill. Limiting just these five bills to a 2% increase would free up about $35 billion – enough to pay for the lion’s share of a troop increase. In addition, there are unspent and unnecessary funds sitting in “stimulus” accounts that could also be used. Instead of yet another job-killing tax, this Congress should do the right thing and make common-sense budget decisions that reflect our ultimate national priority – providing for our national security and giving our men and women in uniform with the resources they need to get the job done.”