This week, Representative Alan Grayson led a bipartisan group within the U.S. House to introduce, H.R. 5353, the War Is Making You Poor Act. The legislation carries one of the more evocative titles seen in the current session of Congress, a title that describes the bill’s premise, though not what the proposed law would actually do.
The War Is Making You Poor Act would not end either the war in Afghanistan or the war in Iraq. Neither would the legislation necessarily change the amount of funding for those wars. However, the bill would require a change in the way that those wars are funded and provide a dramatic savings to the average American citizen.
If the War Is Making You Poor Act were to be passed, individual Americans would not be required to pay any federal tax on the first $35,000 of their income. Married couples would not be required to pay any federal tax on the first $70,000 of their income.
How would H.R. 5353 accomplish such an amazing tax reduction? Simple. The bill would require the President of the United States to find a way to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from within the current standard military budget, rather than billing extra amounts for the wars.
The current standard annual military budget is at $549 billion. That’s a record breaking amount, even though the United States currently lacks any enemies with large conventional armies. In fact, that $549 billion is more than is spent by all the other militaries of the world – combined. What’s more, the next-largest military budget is from the European Union, an ally of the United States.
Could the United States fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with that $549 billion? You bet it could, but it doesn’t. The reason for that is pork barrel – wasteful spending on unnecessary programs such as ships and airplanes that the Pentagon says it doesn’t want, and operation of an immense number of military facilities around the world that aren’t really needed. Domestic military spending is also huge, filled with projects that direct money to influential constituents in Congress members’ home districts.
As a result of this rampant waste, Barack Obama has request an additional $159 billion to pay for just one year of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The War Is Making You Poor Act would forbid that additional spending, and require the U.S. government to direct 90 percent of that money to pay for the federal tax on the first $35,000 of every American’s income. Even after this astounding reduction in federal income tax, 16 billion dollars in savings would be left over, and the War Is Making You Poor Act would require that 16 billion dollars to go to reduce the federal budget deficit.
If H.R. 5353 were passed, Americans would have a lot more money to spend, and our nation would pay a lot less interest on its national debt. Every year, the benefits of this bill for our nation’s economy would compound. It’s a bill that true fiscal conservatives should be enthusiastic to support. The following is the list of current co-sponsors of the legislation: