The Norman Transcript

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October 16, 2012

Coburn identifying government waste in annual report

NORMAN — Did you know the National Football League, which received $184 million from its 32-member teams in 2010, is registered as a nonprofit with the Internal Revenue Service? And that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reported $11.6 million in salary and perks in 2010?

This sports league exemption is available to the NFL, the National Hockey League and the Professional Golfers’ Association, among others, because of a provision in the tax code that allows industry and trade groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Natural Resources Defense Council to qualify as nonprofit and as tax-exempt. These industry groups cannot promote a specific brand within an industry but may promote the industry as a whole.

That loophole costs taxpayers an estimated $91 million according to U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R- Okla.

Coburn released his annual “Wastebook” report today, citing incidents of government extravagance and decrying tax loopholes he said contributes to the growing deficit.

“The problem in Washington is politicians are very specific about what we should fund but not specific about what we should cut,” Coburn said. “As a result, we are chasing robotic squirrels and countless other low-priority projects over a fiscal cliff.”

Oklahoma is not exempt from the pork, Coburn said. “Wastebook 2012” reports that the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission voted to keep a “rarely used Lake Murray State Park Airport open,” even though the airport reportedly averages only one flight per month and has no planes based there.

The Federal Aviation Administration funds the airport to the tune of $150,000, according to “Wastebook 2012,” but almost all of that money is used in other places throughout the state.

While it is true that one person’s trash is another’s treasure, it’s hard not to question some of the spending Coburn identifies, given the current state of the economy and the multi-trillion dollar deficient facing this nation.

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