WASHINGTON – A proposed tax on financial transactions "has a great deal of merit" and would help Congress raise needed revenue, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday.
"I believe that the transaction tax still has a great deal of merit," Pelosi said at a news conference.
The tax would have a "really minimal impact on the transaction, but a tremendous impact on helping us meet our needs," Pelosi said.
Pelosi has previously said the tax would have to be imposed internationally to keep Wall Street business from going overseas. Backers of the tax say they have crafted their bills to ensure that businesses would not migrate overseas.
Democrats in the House are considering the tax as a way to pay for new construction projects and other measures aimed at bringing down the country's 10.2 percent unemployment rate.
But support is tepid on a key tax-writing committee, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said he opposes it.
The measure also faces high hurdles in the Senate, where only two lawmakers have come out in support so far.
Pelosi also said on Thursday she opposes a possible "war tax" to fund an escalation of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey has suggested such a tax but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at her weekly news conference, "I am not in support of the proposal."
Pelosi did not offer alternative funding possibilities but said she has asked the White House for a briefing for all members of Congress on the troop buildup.
The speaker said she wanted the briefing, in addition to ongoing congressional hearings, "so we can make some judgment about the nature of the threat, the nature of the mission" and the need for resources.
"We have to handle it with care, listen to what they have to say, and then members will have to make their decisions. Some have already made their decisions," Pelosi said.
Initial congressional reaction among Democrats has ranged from outright opposition to qualified support. Republicans have largely backed the troop buildup.
Congress has to pay for the troop increase and despite plenty of concerns, is expected to do so.
In renewing his call for a possible "war tax," Obey this week estimated that the military operation could cost up to $900 billion during the next decade, "which could devour our ability to pay for the actions necessary to rebuild our own economy."
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