Senate Says "Party's Over" for Taxpayer Subsidies for Party Conventions and Subsidies for Wealthy Farmers

Press Release

By:  Thomas Coburn
Date: June 21, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senators Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released this statement today after the Senate completed consideration of his amendments to the farm bill. The Senate today agreed to his amendment #2214 that prohibits the use of Presidential Election Campaign Funds (PECF) for Party Conventions in the elections occurring after December 31, 2012. Additionally, it would allow funds disbursed before that time to be returned to the Treasury for the purpose of deficit reduction. The amendment was accepted by a vote of 95-4.

Earlier this week, the Senate passed Coburn amendment #2293 (limiting subsidies to millionaires) in a roll call vote of 63- 36 and Coburn-Durbin amendment #2439 (reducing crop insurance subsidies) in a roll call vote of 66-33. However, Coburn amendment #2298 (to reduce funding for the Market Access Program (MAP)) was rejected 30-69.

"Fortunately, the Senate said the "party is over' when it comes to travel and meetings paid for by taxpayers. In light of today's overwhelming vote, I would again call on both the RNC and DNC to immediately return taxpayer funds for this year's convention parties. In these tough times, there is no justification for spending public funds on booze, balloons and confetti when both parties are awash in campaign donations," Dr. Coburn said.

"I'm disappointed the Senate refused to take a modest step of reducing funding for the market access program by 20 percent, which the Obama administration has supported in the past. The Senate's decision to protect taxpayer-funding for reality TV in India and pet shampoo promotion speaks volumes about why the American people have lost confidence in our ability to set priorities and make rational decisions," Dr. Coburn said.

"However, I am pleased the Senate agreed to modestly limit subsidies for wealthy farmers. I again applaud my colleague Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) for joining me in offering an amendment to reduce crop insurance payments to farmers who earn more than $750,000. The way you eliminate a $16 trillion debt is to work across the aisle to save $1 billion at a time. That's what the Senate did yesterday and I urge members in the House to retain this bipartisan step toward fiscal responsibility," Dr. Coburn said.

Supporting documents for amendment 2214:

View text of the legislation, here.
Dr. Coburn's Statement for the Congressional Record, here.
Congressional Research Service report on 2008 Democratic and Republican national convention spending and data provided by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on PECF expenditures used for party conventions.
Examples of spending by-the-numbers: Republican National Convention Committee.
Examples of spending by-the-numbers: Democratic National Convention Committee.
Dr. Coburn called for the elimination of taxpayer subsidies for party conventions in his 2011 Wastebook report, citing this report from the Congressional Research Service on federal funding for 2012 Presidential nominating conventions.
Additional explanation of how the Presidential Election Campaign Fund (PECF) operates.