Beto O’Rourke Proposes ‘War Tax’ To Care For Veterans

Joe SkipperGetty Images

Beto O’Rourke proposed a so-called “war tax” on Monday, which he says will provide desperately needed federal funds to care for veterans after the wars in which they fight, Politico reports.

The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate revealed his plan to the media, and he’s expected to pitch it directly to veterans at a roundtable event in Florida on Monday night. He’ll make the “war tax” proposal as part of his larger plan to provide care for military veterans.

Specifically, O’Rourke’s plan works like this: every time the U.S. goes into a new war, a tax is levied on every American household (excluding those households which include a member of the armed forces). The lowest-income Americans (those with adjusted gross incomes of less than $30,000) would pay about $25. For those with the highest incomes (above $200,000), the “war tax” would be about $1,000 per household, according to CNN.

The money from those taxes would be put into a fund that would go towards veterans’ healthcare. “We must be willing to pay any price, and bear any burden, to provide the full care, support, and resources to every single veteran who served every single one of us,” the El Paso businessman said.

That the federal government has failed to properly care for its veterans after they’ve returned from war is beyond dispute. As Rapid City’s KOTA-TV reports, 20 American veterans commit suicide per day, on average. Meanwhile, conditions at Veterans Affairs (V.A.) hospitals are often deplorable, and veterans often have to endure long wait times before they get care.

Meanwhile, O’Rourke is not the first politician to suggest a “war tax.” Lyndon B. Johnson enacted such a tax during the Vietnam War era, for example, although in that particular case the money funded the war proper, and not postwar care for veterans.

Additionally, O’Rourke outlined plans to upgrade the care veterans receive in V.A. hospitals and clinics. For instance, he wants the facilities to publicly display expected wait times, as well as update its electronic record-keeping to be more in line with what private medical clinics and hospitals do. Further, he wants the V.A. to focus more on mental health and suicide prevention.

In addition to his proposals related to veterans’ health care, O’Rourke also called for ending the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, suggesting that the estimated $400 billion cost of continuing those wars could go a great deal towards upgrading V.A. facilities and improving veterans’ healthcare.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.