War bonds proposed to pay for Afghanistan, Iraq conflicts

McClatchy NewspapersDecember 16, 2009 

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers in both houses of Congress have introduced legislation to pay for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq by using a method that's a throwback to prior U.S. conflicts: war bonds.

Saying that it would "promote national shared sacrifice and responsibility," Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla., introduced a bill Wednesday in the House of Representatives that would authorize the treasury secretary to issue and sell war bonds to Americans to fund the wars.

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., filed companion legislation in the Senate earlier this week.

"At a time of tremendous sacrifice for our military families, we need to promote shared sacrifice and shoulder collective responsibility as a nation as we fight two wars halfway across the globe," Meek said, calling war bonds a "cost-effective way" to reduce dependence on foreign creditors.

He also said the bonds would "create an outlet for Americans to express their patriotism and support for our service members as well as the security mission for which they are deployed."

The legislation comes as Congress debates ways to pay for the wars, including a tax on the wealthy. Critics note that the bonds must be repaid eventually, merely postponing the debt.

The United States last issued war bonds during World War II.

The proposal comes as Meek's support for President Barack Obama's recent decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan has drawn criticism. Maurice Ferre, Meek's rival in the 2010 Democratic primary for a U.S. Senate seat, said last week that the congressman was "putting party before sound judgment."

Meek said Wednesday that the plan put the military "on a course for success in Afghanistan that was missing for many years."

He said his legislation came on the heels of estimates that the cost of supporting an American service member in Afghanistan — including housing, food, equipment, training and transportation — approached $1 million a year.

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