WASHINGTON -- Linking U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf to the politically volatile issue of a tax increase, powerful Democratic voices in Congress are raising the possibility of a surcharge to finance the enormous cost of the military expedition.
Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, endorsed the idea of the levy yesterday, following the lead of the Democratic chairmen of the Senate and House Budget committees.
Senate Budget Committee member Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, suggested instead a greater economic commitment from U.S. allies, changes in the defense procurement process and a re-allocation of troop levels in Europe and Asia.
But Rep. Leon Panetta, D-Calif., chairman of the House Budget Committee, said yesterday that a surcharge may indeed be required if a shooting war breaks out.
The exact costs of the U.S. military presence in the gulf aren't known, but they are adding up fast. Just the first six weeks that the U.S. had troops in Saudi Arabia cost $2.7 billion. At that rate the nation will have spent $8.1 billion by the end of this year.