On this day in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson asks Congress for more money to support the Vietnam War. Lyndon’s War, a war Johnson actually inherited from President John F. Kennedy, had achieved nothing by 1967. The North Vietnamese use of guerrilla warfare tactics resulted in approximately 14,000 American troops killed in action by early 1967. Hundreds of U.S. planes had been shot down, leaving Air Force personnel in enemy POW camps. Although the enemy also suffered heavy casualties, they did not show any signs of giving up.
Desperate for more military funding, Johnson proposed a six-percent surcharge tax on personal and corporate incomes. Johnson’s tax proposal, approved by Congress in March 1967, backfired with an American public tiring of the controversial war. Previously ambivalent Americans protested the government’s demand on their pocketbooks for a war that was beginning to appear impossible to win. As a result, Johnson’s popularity waned toward the end of 1967. By year’s end, a total of 19,560 troops had died in more than a decade of hostilities. The Viet Cong’s surprise Tet Offensive in January 1968 convinced the majority of the public and many U.S. political and military leaders that the war could not be won. Johnson realized support for his administration had disintegrated and decided not to run for re-election in 1968. His successor, Richard Nixon, although staunchly anti-communist, won the election largely based on promises to end the war.