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Rubio's Wrong: Tax the Olympians

La-dee-dah, Sen. Marco Rubio doesn't think the money Olympians get paid for winning should be taxed. As our colleagues in Miami point out this morning, Rubio has proposed that the prize money ($25,000 for gold, less for silver and bronze) given to winning athletes should be exempt from taxation. It shouldn't be.

Rubio has said (on multiple occasions under various circumstances) that the government should not be "picking winners and losers." Now, though, he wants to pick the winners -- and he picked the people who were already winners.

The truth is, most American Olympians are not winners. They train their whole lives, dedicate their very being to a sport, and they go and lose to South Korean archers. Where's the tax break for those people? Where's the support for weightlifter Sarah Robles, who is the strongest woman in America and has to beg for discounts at food banks?

There isn't one, because it's not the thing that will score him cheap political points in the weeks leading up to the Republican convention.

Several small publications (The Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, whoever those guys are) have already pointed out the obvious political point: that Rubio is arguing for a simpler tax code by adding yet another (pointless) exemption. From the Miami Herald:

"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," Rubio said in a press release. "Athletes representing our nation overseas in the Olympics shouldn't have to worry about an extra tax bill waiting for them back home."
Well, Rubio certainly has quite a sense of justice about the tax code. Who else deserves to be special? Members of the military serving overseas (outside combat zones) get taxed, as do scientists doing cancer research -- why is the money made by the U.S. women's gymnastics team so different?

This is not, as some Miami radio hosts are yelling about this morning, a question of taxing the income from being given a physical Olympic medal -- this is about taxing cash money. And making patriotic tax exemptions for the jocks is just silly.

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Rich Abdill

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