The rich are different from you and me except when it comes to tax breaks.
They claim as many deductions and credits as they can.
"The government safety net has been cast far and wide, with almost half of all American households now receiving some form of government assistance," says the Oklahoma Republican who's known on Capitol Hill as Dr. No for his fervent opposition to a wide variety of federal programs. "But most taxpayers will be asking why when they learn who is receiving what."
Uncle Sam, says Coburn, has been subsidizing the lifestyles of America's rich and famous to the tune of $9.5 billion in government benefits paid to millionaires since 2003. Coburn specifically cites:
- $316 million in farm subsidies,
- $89 million for preservation of ranches and estates (aka "gentleman farmer" benefits),
- $9 billion of retirement checks,
- $75.6 million in residential energy tax credits,
- $7.5 million for property damages caused by emergencies/disasters,
- $16 million in government-backed education loans, and
- $74 million of unemployment checks
In addition, the report says that almost 1,500 millionaires paid no federal income tax in 2009.
Coburn's finding make for good outrage fodder in this time of Occupy Wall Street protests, but it's not really news.
All taxpayers, regardless of income, take every tax break for which they legally qualify. They should.
So instead of focusing on those at all income levels who are benefiting from the many, and costly, tax breaks, we need to concentrate on the laws that make such tax claims possible.,
"We should never demonize those who are successful," says the Senator in the opening statement of his study. But, he adds, we shouldn't pamper those who don't really need the social safety net services provided via the tax code.
This reverse Robin Hood style of wealth redistribution is an intentional effort to get all Americans to buy into a system where everyone appears to benefit, says Coburn.
"The tragic irony is the wealth in these cases is trickling up rather than down the economic ladder," says the Senator. "These consequences are the results of shortsighted spending and tax policies like those outlined in this report that should be eliminated."
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