The 138th running of the Kentucky Derby is today, and more than 100,000 fans will pack Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky to see the first leg of the Triple Crown. What they will also see is a select group of horse owners who get to pay less in taxes thanks to a hand-out from Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
In a tight race to keep his Senate seat in 2008, McConnell inserted the “Bluegrass Boondoggle” into the Farm Bill. The Boondoggle gave a special tax break to millionaire horse owners, costing the government $126 million over 10 years.
Though McConnell now decries wasteful spending, he publicly touted the millionaire-only earmark in 2008, and the GOP has done everything it can to preserve the tax break since. The House GOP budget, which gives massive tax breaks to the rich that Republicans say will be paid for by closing tax loopholes, doesn’t touch the Bluegrass Boondoggle.
That budget has wide support throughout the party and has been endorsed by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, another fan of humongous, unpaid-for tax cuts for the richest Americans. (Romney is, of course, also a fan of fancy horses.)
Romney has openly touted his friendships with the owners of NASCAR and National Football League teams. Given his support for a budget that gives away tax breaks to millionaire horsemen, he may be making a few friends in the horse industry too.