Democrat O'Rourke proposes 'war tax' on
affluent U.S. families without military members
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[June 24, 2019]
By Tim Reid
(Reuters) - Democratic presidential
candidate Beto O'Rourke on Monday proposed taxing affluent American
families who do not have members in the U.S. military as a way to fund
healthcare for veterans.
The former congressman from Texas unveiled a plan for military veterans
that includes a "war tax," in which taxpayers who earn over $200,000 a
year would pay $1,000 in a new tax for each war embarked on by the
O'Rourke, who did not serve in the military but sat on the House of
Representatives Armed Services and Veterans' Affairs committees, said
the tax would be levied on households without current members of the
U.S. military or military veterans. He did not specify what types of
war, or the scale and origins of the wars, on which the tax would be
The money raised from the war tax would be deposited into a newly
created Veterans Health Care Trust Fund, which would be created at the
start of each new war and be used to support veterans' healthcare,
disability and other medical needs when they return from conflict,
The proposal was part of a broader plan by O'Rourke, who has
struggled to gain traction in opinion polls among Democratic contenders,
to improve services for military veterans. He also urged an end to "wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan," and reinvestment of the savings in veterans
The military has about 1.36 million active-duty members out of a total
U.S. population of some 327 million people. The country's armed forces
have been all-volunteer since the military draft ended in 1973 as the
United States wound down its involvement in the Vietnam War.
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Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke delivers a speech
during the SC Democratic Convention in Columbia, South Carolina,
U.S., June 22, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo
In language borrowed from former Democratic President John F.
Kennedy, O'Rourke said Americans must be "willing to pay any price,
and bear any burden" to provide care, support and resources to all
veterans. He called for ending the "blank check for endless war"
waged by the United States and to invest spending on the care of
those who had served in armed conflicts.
O'Rourke, 46, launched his presidential bid in March after rising to
national prominence last year when he narrowly lost his bid to
defeat Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz in Texas. His national
support among likely Democratic primary voters is currently around 4
(Reporting by Tim Reid in South Bend, Indiana; Editing by Peter
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