- The Washington Times - Friday, December 4, 2009

You aren’t taxed enough. A measly 20 percent of the gross domestic product is a starvation diet for the poor, poor federal government, and Congress only gets to bestow a trillion bucks in discretionary every year.

So say House Appropriations Chairman David R. Obey, Wisconsin Democrat, and his liberal allies now that the government will have to pay for an expanded U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. Their cynical plea - that the only way to support our troops in combat is to allow Uncle Sam to dig deeper into our pockets - reveals just how twisted priorities have become in the nation’s capital.

When the United States was founded, national defense was among the first jobs given to the central government.

In justifying his proposal to increase taxes at a graduated rate starting at 1 percent on incomes over $150,000, Mr. Obey applies the same faulty logic used by President Johnson for his Vietnam-era tax increase. The chairman wants to save the Democrats’ pet social programs despite an expanding deficit. “If we’re being told we have to pay for health care, we certainly [have to] pay for this effort, as well,” Mr. Obey told CNN Sunday.

At least Johnson’s tax increase followed an earlier tax cut, was temporary and was coupled with a 10 percent cut in discretionary spending forced on him by powerful House Ways and Means Chairman Wilbur Mills. Mr. Obey argues that domestic programs will face cuts if his efforts to increase taxes go unheeded.

It is telling that the Wisconsinite ignores the deficit-expanding role of the $787 billion stimulus package and the real costs of his party’s planned health care changes. The nearly $900 billion estimated price tag for Democratic health care plans is a fantasy likely to cost at least double that in reality, and it already contains numerous new taxes.

Proponents also ignore the fact that the American people already pay taxes to support the military and a wealth of other federal programs, many of them riddled with waste. As the federal debt exploded to more than $12 trillion, senators buried language deep in the 2010 legislative branch appropriations bill to provide a half-million dollars extra for them to mail postcards to constituents announcing town-hall meetings this fall. The message: We’ve got money to send junk mail, but we can’t scrape up enough cash to cover the basic functions of government, such as support for our troops in the line of fire.

If proponents of tax increases were serious about supporting our troops, much less lowering the deficit, they would not talk about ensuring that the troops are properly funded one minute and then deride their efforts the next. Mr. Obey called any increase in the number of troops in Afghanistan a “fool’s errand” even as he played on the lack of “shared sacrifice” by the American people to promote his tax increase.

The House of Representatives voted yesterday to cancel the repeal of the death tax, which means many family farms and businesses could be hit hard by unexpected taxes. With unemployment at 10.2 percent and growing and real unemployment even higher, it is horrifying to imagine how much sacrifice Mr. Obey expects the American taxpayer to make. The taxpayer shakedown is only necessary so Washington Democrats won’t have to make any sacrifices at all.