Sen. Tom Coburn Finds US Taxpayers Subsidizing the Rich and Famous

Yesterday Senator Tom Coburn, MD (R-OK) released a report exposing millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to millionaires. It’s just another example of how utterly dysfunctional and corrupt the federal government has become. It’s disgusting.

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today released a new report “Subsidies of the Rich and Famous” illustrating how, under the current tax code, the federal government is giving billions of dollars to individuals with an Annual Gross Income (AGI) of at least $1 million, subsidizing their lavish lifestyles with the taxes of the less fortunate.

“All Americans are facing tough times, with many working two jobs just to make ends meet and more families turning to the government for financial assistance. From tax write-offs for gambling losses, vacation homes, and luxury yachts to subsidies for their ranches and estates, the government is subsidizing the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Multi-millionaires are even receiving government checks for not working.

“This welfare for the well-off – costing billions of dollars a year – is being paid for with the taxes of the less fortunate, many who are working two jobs just to make ends meet, and IOUs to be paid off by future generations. We should never demonize those who are successful. Nor should we pamper them with unnecessary welfare to create an appearance everyone is benefiting from federal programs,” Dr. Coburn said.

The full report can be found here.

Fox News summed it up. Some of the recipients of these subsidies are pretty well known:

The eye-popping findings in the 36-page report include some eye-catching names, like former NBA star Scottie Pippen and billionaire media mogul Ted Turner, both of whom received farm subsidies courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer. Singer Jon Bon Jovi paid property taxes of only $100 last year on a plot of land he used to raise bees. Iconic crooner Bruce Springsteen also got in on the farm subsidy action, for property he leases to an organic farmer. And Millionaire composer-producer Quincy Jones is even singled out for receiving a $25,000 award from the federally-funded National Endowment for the Arts.

Coburn’s investigation found that from 2003 to 2009, millionaires received over $316 million in farm program payments. In one four-year period alone, the senator’s staff, reviewing tax returns found that fully 78 percent of recipients listed a city as their primary address, not exactly a location for a farm.

Parents are likely to be outraged when they read about millionaires taking advantage of a Department of Education low-interest loan program. Over the past four years, the average loan paid out through one program to wealthy families was $19,405. A total of more than $16 million went to rich students. Not only that, but those making more than $1 million in their adjusted gross income, from 2007 to 2009, according to the Coburn report, saved $18 million through childcare tax credits.

And perhaps one of the most egregious findings in the report, millionaires collecting home heating assistance from a program that is supposed to help the very poor. A nonpartisan General Accounting Office investigation found wealthy individuals collecting payments through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) while living in million-dollar mansions in tony Potomac, Maryland and in the Chicago suburbs. (Read More)

I’m so glad we keep our thermostat set on 68 degrees in the winter to save money so we can subsidize heat for people living in McMansions. Lovely.