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Tax Day News: War Is Costly

As scores of taxpayers rush to file their income tax returns today, House Democrats will look to use tax day to amplify their message tying spending on the Iraq War to the nation’s economic woes.

According to Democratic talking points distributed to Members on Monday, lawmakers are being urged to highlight the $44 billion spent on Iraq reconstruction to date and to tie it to the tax burden.

“In fact, the typical American taxpayer’s entire federal tax bill pays for less than one half of one second of what we’re spending on the war in Iraq,” the memo reads.

Democratic Reps. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Jim McGovern (Mass.), Keith Ellison (Minn.) and Peter Welch (Vt.), as well as liberal organizations USAction and Americans United for Change, will emphasize the relationship between war spending and the economic climate by unveiling today a “bill” for the war, estimating about $3 billion per Congressional district.

“At a time when individuals are thinking about how much they’re sending to the federal government, we wanted to point out that each family, the average family of four owes $16,500 for the Iraq War,” Schakowsky said Monday. “I think that we want to make the point that even as American families are struggling to make a living and pay their taxes to the government, a great deal of money is going to this war.”

Schakowsky said the message could build support for Democrats to again attempt to include a timeline to end the war in the next supplemental spending bill, an effort that Republicans have steadfastly opposed in the 110th Congress.

“The American people are looking at this war in the rearview mirror. They’re done with it. ... Except for the cost,” Schakowsky said. “I think that anything we can do to get the American people to have our back to set a timeline to end this war will be helpful. I think this is one of those things.”

In recent weeks, Democrats have intensified their efforts to connect war spending and economic issues, part of an effort to build support for a second economic stimulus package at the same time Congress prepares to take up another supplemental war spending bill.

“The American people know that their tax dollars are being used to rebuild Iraq, not America. Democrats will aggressively highlight the cost of this war and its impact on our economy,” Democratic Caucus spokesman Nick Papas said.

Republicans have dismissed the Democratic message.

“While both parties agree that middle-class families and small businesses are struggling with skyrocketing costs of living, this latest argument from Democratic leaders smacks of political opportunism at its very worst,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement. “Congress has worked — and continues to work — with the Administration to craft policies that encourage economic growth, including passing the bipartisan stimulus legislation. To characterize our ongoing effort to defeat radical Islamic terrorists as the trigger for our nation’s economic downturn is cynical and irresponsible.”

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