Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, said Monday that as president, he would impose a "modest" tax on citizens for each new war as part of his plan to get the United States out of "endless" overseas conflicts.
His "war tax" would be "progressive" meaning that it would charge the wealthy more -- specifically, taxpayers making over $200,000 a year would have to pay $1,000 for each war, he said on his website. It would funnel money into a series of Veterans Health Care Trust Funds (VHCTF) -- also created each time a war is started -- covering medical services, disability compensation, and other programs for veterans.
Families with members or veterans of the Armed Forces would not have to pay the tax. It was unclear how much the tax would cost Americans in lower income brackets.
"Every new VHCTF would be paired with enactment of new war tax," O'Rourke said. "This new tax would serve as a reminder of the incredible sacrifice made by those who serve and their families."
His plan included a long list of measures designed to beef up care for veterans and end the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Twitter, O'Rourke argued the new "war tax" would make it harder for politicians to enter into new conflicts. "I will not only end our wars, but I'll make it harder politically for Washington to start new ones. We'll implement a progressive tax to be triggered if a new war is started, exclusively to fund the care of future veterans -- never war itself," he said.
"If politicians want to send our kids, our parents, our neighbors into combat, they should have to explain why every single one of us should bear the costs of war’s consequences," he said in another tweet.
As part of his plan, he called for an end to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) which Congress passed after 9/11 to grant the executive more leeway in fighting terrorism.
"As president, I will ensure that before this country enters another war, we have exhausted every single peaceful alternative," O'Rourke said.
His plan came as fellow 2020 candidate and Sen. Bernie Sanders', I-Vt., emphasized the need to stay out of "endless war." In an op-ed from Monday, Sanders worried over whether Trump would get the United States into war with Iran.
"I am very concerned that, whether intentionally or unintentionally, the Trump administration’s moves against Iran, and Iran’s moves in response, could put us in direct conflict," he said.
House Democrats have already taken up O'Rourke's proposal to remove the AUMF, voting on Wendesday to repeal that law. Democrats in the Senate have also pushed legislation that would seek to restrict Trump's ability to engage in a conflict with Iran.