Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke proposes 'war tax' on affluent households without US service members

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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)

(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 United States.

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 levied.

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, O'Rourke said.

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 militaryveterans. He also urged an end to "wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," and reinvestment of the savings in veterans programs.

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.

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 percent.

(Task & Purpose photo illustration by Paul Szoldra)

Jordan Way was living a waking nightmare.

The 23-year-old sailor laid in bed trembling. At times, his body would shake violently as he sobbed. He had recently undergone a routine shoulder surgery on Dec. 12, 2017, and was hoping to recover.

Instead, Jordan couldn't do much of anything other than think about the pain. Simple tasks like showering, dressing himself, or going to the bathroom alone were out of the question, and the excruciating sensation in his shoulder made lying down to sleep feel like torture.

"Imagine being asleep," he called to tell his mother Suzi at one point, "but you can still feel the pain."

To help, military doctors gave Jordan oxycodone, a powerful semi-synthetic opiate they prescribed to dull the sensation in his shoulder. Navy medical records show that he went on to take more than 80 doses of the drug in the days following the surgery, dutifully following doctor's orders to the letter.

Instinctively, Jordan, a Navy corpsman who by day worked at the Twentynine Palms naval hospital where he was now a patient, knew something was wrong. The drugs seemed to have little effect. His parents advised him to seek outside medical advice, but base doctors insisted the drugs just needed more time to work.

"They've got my back," Jordan had told his parents before the surgery, which happened on a Tuesday. By Saturday, he was dead.

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T-38 Talon training aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Two airmen from Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, were killed on Thursday when two T-38 Talon training aircraft crashed during training mission, according to a message posted on the base's Facebook age.

The two airmen's names are being withheld pending next of kin notification.

A total of four airmen were onboard the aircraft at the time of the incident, base officials had previously announced.

The medical conditions for the other two people involved in the crash was not immediately known.

An investigation will be launched to determine the cause of the crash.

Emergency responders from Vance Air Force Base are at the crash scene to treat casualties and help with recovery efforts.

Read the entire message below:

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Two Vance Air Force Base Airmen were killed in an aircraft mishap at approximately 9:10 a.m. today.

At the time of the accident, the aircraft were performing a training mission.

Vance emergency response personnel are on scene to treat casualties and assist in recovery efforts.

Names of the deceased will be withheld pending next of kin notification.

A safety investigation team will investigate the incident.

Additional details will be provided as information becomes available. #VanceUpdates.

This is a breaking news story. It will be updated as more information is released.

The commander of the Marine Corps' Wounded Warrior Regiment has been relieved over a loss of "trust and confidence in his ability to lead" amid an investigation into his conduct, a Corps official told Task & Purpose on Thursday.

Col. Lawrence F. Miller was removed from his post on Thursday morning and replaced with his executive officer, Lt. Col. Larry Coleman, who will serve as interim commander of the Quantico, Virginia based unit.

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President Donald Trump has nixed any effort by the Navy to excommunicate Eddie Gallagher from the SEAL community.

"The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher's Trident Pin," the president tweeted on Thursday. "This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!"

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The Medal of Honor (U.S. Navy photo)

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