Coburn: End ‘Welfare For The Well-Off’

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) thinks it’s time America’s millionaires pay their fair share.

And in a new report — titled “Subsidizing the Rich and Famous” — Coburn makes an argument for closing loopholes for millionaires. “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,” Coburn writes in the report. “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.”In total, Coburn’s report claims that millionaires receive $30 billion in benefits from tax giveaways and federal grant programs every year. Almost 1,500 millionaires didn’t pay income tax in 2009, according to the report. The report further breaks down the numbers: $74 million of unemployment checks, $316 million in farm subsidies and $16 million in government-backed loans for college.

So in essence, Coburn is calling for millionaires to receive a little less from the government. If you’re wealthy, and you can afford to pay more for health care as you get older, Coburn argues you should. If you’re a millionaire farmer, you don’t need government farm subsidies. Those farm program payouts, Coburn argues, were intended to encourage low-income farmers, and millionaires don’t need that encouragement.

Coburn’s report is significant in that there aren’t a lot of Republicans making the claim that America’s wealthiest are paying too little. Tune into a recent Sunday morning news show, and it’s not long before a Republican accuses President Obama of declaring class warfare on the high-income earners. But this isn’t Coburn giving the Occupy Wall Street movement a bear hug. It’s also opening the door to a standard Republican argument that seems to be crossing further into the mainstream: that benefits like Medicare and Social Security should be means-tested rather than immediately available for all once a certain age threshold is crossed.

Coburn’s not arguing for successful Americans to be demonized, but he argues that “not everyone is in need of government handouts.”

“Fleecing the taxpayer while contributing nothing is not the American way,” Coburn writes.

Read the full report below:

Subsidies of the Rich and Famous