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Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn's amendment blocks federal child care money for millionaires

U.S. Senate unanimously approves language by the Muskogee Republican to ensure people with more than $1 million in assets can’t receive child care money intended for low-income Americans.
by Chris Casteel Published: March 14, 2014

The Senate on Thursday unanimously approved an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn to bar people with more than $1 million in assets from receiving federal block grant money for child care.

Coburn, R-Muskogee, said he wanted to ensure that Child Care and Development Block Grant money is spent for the people who need it. The program currently has an income test but not an asset test.

Helping those in need

In remarks on the Senate floor, Coburn said 16 percent of the grant money had gone to people “who are very wealthy.”

Coburn’s amendment would require recipients to certify they didn’t have more than $1 million in assets.

After the vote, Coburn said, “The American people are compassionate. But they expect their tax dollars to help those who need help rather than those who don’t. This vote is an important victory for common sense and fairness. The unanimous support this amendment received signaled the Senate’s support of income-testing as a way to save our safety net for poor families.”

Coburn’s amendment was made to a bill updating the federal child care program; that bill was approved. It now goes to the U.S. House.

Coburn released a report in 2011 called “Subsidies of the Rich and Famous” that attacked millionaires’ use of a tax credit for child care.

He authored but did not offer an amendment that would have killed the tax credit for those making $1 million or more in a year. According to Coburn’s office, about 12,000 millionaires claimed the tax credit in 2011 and received $7.5 million in benefits. At the same time, 250,000 children were on state waiting lists for subsidized child care.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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