Last week, Senator Marco Rubio introduced the Olympic Tax Elimination Act, which would permit Olympic medal recipients to not pay taxes on their winnings. In a rare show of bipartisanship, President Obama jumped aboard this silly train. As well as the value of the metal involved in minting the medals, the US Olympic Committee provides honoraria of $25,000 to each gold medal winner, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze.
When introducing this bill, Rubio issued a statement, “Our tax code is a complicated and burdensome mess that too often punishes success, and the tax imposed on Olympic medal winners is a classic example of this madness. Athletes representing our nation overseas in the Olympics shouldn’t have to worry about an extra tax bill waiting for them back home.”
I get it. The tax code is too complicated, so let’s add a new loophole. President Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, announced yesterday that this was a grand idea, and that he would sign the bill if or when it reached his desk: “The president believes that we should support efforts, like I think the bill you’re referencing, to ensure that we are doing everything we can to honor and support our Olympic athletes who have volunteered to represent our nation at the Olympic Games.
I’m pretty sure that in spite of the inaction that is the hallmark of our federal elected officials, this puerile nonsense will speed through Congress. After all, it plays the patriotism card, always important in an election year. If this is most of what these athletes earned, I wouldn’t care, but I assume that most of them that compete in real sports, at least, make a lot more than that. A few years back, I was talking with someone who told me that he was quitting grad school. He said that he was going on the pro track tour and had a five year contract worth $250,000 per year. I actually pay attention to his event, and have never seen his name since then. Imagine how much the premium athletes earn.
For the last two years, at least, every politician has babbled about the budget deficit. Most of them aren’t serious, and we all know it. They’re all hopeful that the economy will perk up, increasing government revenues, so that nothing has to be done. Obama has entrenched himself firmly into that camp. But I always expected more from Rubio. Et tu, Marco?