Open letter to US Rep. Paul Ryan [UPDATED]Published 9:36am Monday, August 20, 2012 Updated 11:38am Monday, August 20, 2012
Dear Rep. Ryan,
A sincere congratulations on your selection as the 2012 Republican Vice Presidential candidate. You bring youth and vigor to the campaign, and you are seen as a breath of fresh air from members of both parties.
I live in a community of west central Minnesota. It’s good to see someone from a neighboring state, Wisconsin, be part of a presidential ticket. My community, Fergus Falls, is no doubt similar in many ways to your community of Janesville in southern Wisconsin.
We applaud you, as chairman of the House Budget Committee, for focusing on sound fiscal policy. That’s the case even if many of us don’t agree on all of your proposals. We do, however, agree wholeheartedly that tough decisions need to be made.
I agree with those who say that balancing the nation’s budget and reducing debt can and should involve shared sacrifice.
Erasing $14 trillion in national debt is a daunting task. But I join others in a suggestion on how to eliminate $1 trillion of that debt, justly and fairly.
We can pay for the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for much of the costs related to homeland security, by initiating an income (war) surtax on a sliding scale, based on ability to pay.
I have friends and relatives who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam who support this proposal. It’s a measure that can and should be supported by all candidates, members of both political parties and independent voters.
During World War II members of the Greatest Generation, from 1942 to 1945, graciously paid a war surtax and also purchased war bonds to support the troops overseas.
U.S. military personnel and their families are, thus far, the only ones who have paid any price for military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many have paid with their lives and many others have been wounded. Everyone should share the burden.
You, Rep. Ryan, were born in 1970, at the height of the Vietnam War. At that time a surtax on individual and corporate income was in place to help pay for the cost of fighting the war in Southeast Asia. People, regardless of their views about the war, could see how much they were being asked to contribute.
Discussion about a war tax, as noted by award-winning writer John Aloysius Farrell, would free politicians to participate in a reasoned national debate about how to pay off the soaring national debt. Patriotism, with support of U.S. soldiers, would be at the core of the debate.
When our Founders Fathers wrote the Constitution they recognized the need to “lay and collect taxes” and to “provide for the common Defense and general Welfare.” The Civil War was funded, in part, through the first personal income tax. It was a flat tax, of 3 percent across the board.
I agree with Mr. Farrell who says that, after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, we as a nation missed a great opportunity to enact a war tax as we prepared to fight the enemy in Afghanistan.
These suggestions, Rep. Ryan, come from many of us who represent Republicans, Democrats and Independents, including many military veterans. People are willing to come together if they know that each and every American is willing to do his or her fair share.
Good luck in the fall campaign.
Tom Hintgen, Fergus Falls