O'Rourke unveils plan for veterans

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke on Monday unveiled an expansive program aimed at helping veterans.

The plan focuses on ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, creating a “state-of-the-art” Veterans Affairs health care system, ensuring that veterans receive equal treatment regardless of gender or sexual orientation and helping veterans once they return from service.

O’Rourke also seeks to establish a veterans health care trust fund that would support veteran medical care and disability compensation. Other parts of his plan would restore military service as a pathway to citizenship and devoting government resources to preventing veteran homelessness.

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“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 former Texas congressman said in a campaign statement.

“Eighteen years into the war in Afghanistan, and nearly three decades after our first engagement in Iraq, the best way to honor our veterans’ service is to cancel the blank check for endless war—and reinvest the savings to ensure every American can thrive upon their return home,” he added.

One of the funding mechanisms in O’Rourke’s plan is a “war tax” that households without military members would have to pay.

The money would go into a trust fund for veterans created at the beginning of each future war.

Households making less than $30,000 per year would pay $25; those making less than $40,000 would pay $57; those making less than $50,000 would pay $98; those making less than $75,000 would pay $164; those making less than $100,000 would pay $270; those making less than $200,000 would pay $485; and those making more than $200,000 would pay $1,000. 

"This new tax would serve as a reminder of the incredible sacrifice made by those who serve and their families," O'Rourke's plan reads.

O’Rourke introduced legislation establishing war taxes while serving in the House in 2016 and 2017.

O’Rourke was expected to discuss his plan Monday during a roundtable with veterans in Tampa, Fla.

During his time in Congress, O’Rourke served on the House Veterans’ Affairs and Armed Services committees.

He is now part of a crowded field of Democrats vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Chris Mills Rodrigo contributed to this post which was updated at 11:08 a.m.