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Republican U.S. Senate candidate Michael Baumgartner promotes penny gas tax for health care for veterans

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on Oct. 5, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
October 5, 2012 4:01 pm

After touring facilities at Madigan Army Medical Center and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, U.S. Senate candidate Michael Baumgartner this week proposed a new federal gasoline tax of one penny with proceeds going toward health care for veterans.

Baumgartner is a Spokane Republican and first term state senator. He calls the proposal the “Veterans Care Gas Tax.” He said the tax would have two purposes: raise $2 billion a year to help make sure veterans get the care they need and remind Americans who pay the tax of the wars being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Michael Baumgartner

“…this small tax will remind each and every American every time they fill up at the pump that there is still a war going on with nearly 70,000 troops in harm’s way. Our troops and their families cannot continue to bear the entire burden of these conflicts. If they are at war, the country needs to be at war with them in spirit.”

He suggested it be discontinued when the number of troops in conflict zones falls below 1,000 and kick in again when the number rises above 1,000.

This continues one of Baumgartner’s campaign themes, that the wars must end and that the burden of fighting them has fallen only on military personnel and their families and not regular Americans.

“We’ve been fighting wars for over a decade and have asked our troops to give so much; from the losses and casualties they have taken in battle, to the long term injuries many will bear for the rest of their lives,” he said in a statement. “The (post-traumatic stress disorder) rates are real; the suicide rates are real; the divorce rates are real. Our military has been put under a tremendous strain. It’s the least that we can do to ensure that our veterans get the care that they need and deserve.”

“Right now we’re paying for these wars by borrowing from China and asking our kids to pay for it later. War isn’t free.”

Baumgartner is facing incumbent U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell in the November runoff.

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