I've spoken of Senator Tom Coburn before in approving tones. He seems to be one of the few Senators or Representatives who truly 'gets it' about our deficit spending crisis, budgetary woes, and overall fiscal condition. (If you haven't already watched his video presentation at the link above, you really should make time to do so. It's that important.)
He's make another excellent point today, identifying what he terms 'welfare for millionaires'. The Hill reports:
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) released a report detailing special tax breaks for wealthy income earners that could give members of the supercommittee common ground for raising tax revenues.
The report found millionaires enjoy about $30 billion worth of “tax giveaways” and federal grants every year — almost twice NASA’s budget, the report notes.
“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. Multimillionaires are even receiving government checks for not working,” Coburn said in a statement Monday.
The report is significant because Coburn is one of the Senate’s outspoken conservatives and has spent more than a year working intensely on a bipartisan grand bargain to reduce the deficit.
. . .
His staff found that millionaires received $74 million worth of unemployment checks from 2005 to 2009; $316 million in farm subsidies from 2003 to 2009; $89 million for the preservation of lands on ranches and estates in 2009 and 2010; and $7.5 million to compensate for property damages caused by disaster.
And it found that nearly 1,500 millionaires did not pay federal income tax in 2009.
In 2009, 18 people earning more than $10 million a year received an average of $12,000 in unemployment benefits. That same year, 74 people earning between $5 million and $10 million received $18,000 in benefits, on average, according to the report. In 2008, 2,840 millionaires received unemployment benefits — an average of $6,500 per beneficiary.
. . .
The average annual amount of tax breaks claimed by millionaires is $28.5 billion, Corburn’s report found.
There's more at the link, and also in this report at the Daily Caller.
I totally agree that many of these benefits need to be means-tested; in other words, paid only to those who actually need them, as opposed to everyone who might otherwise qualify for them. It's a waste of taxpayer dollars to play the Socialist fairy godmother like this. What's more, if we stopped handing out tax breaks, concessions and rebates as if they were Halloween candy, we wouldn't need to increase tax rates. Existing tax rates would bring in enough revenues if they applied equally to everyone, with no exceptions or loopholes.
Frankly, I'm sorry Senator Coburn (and, for that matter, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky) aren't running as candidates for the Republican Party's Presidential nomination. On economic grounds alone, I'd support either of them in a heartbeat. Fiscally speaking, they've got their heads screwed on the right way.