Horse-trading in Washington: Big Money Mitch Shows Us the Way

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How do you turn a $15,000 wager into a $126 million tax break? Bet on Big Money Mitch!

As heated negotiations continue in the U.S. Senate over deficit reduction, last week Roll Call reported on an effort to eliminate a huge tax break, authored by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), that many view as a "boondoggle" to a well-connected interest.

In 2008, McConnell added a nice little cookie of a tax break for the horseracing industry, tucked discretely in a farm bill. The $126 million tax break is now the target of some Senators working to reduce the deficit.

From the Roll Call story, Sen. Jeff Merkely (D-Ore.): “There should be no sacred cows, and there should be no sacred horses,” Merkley said in an interview. “This is just one example of the special favors for the well-connected that need to be reviewed as we deal with our deficit.”

Sen. Merkely just may be on to something. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Sen. McConnell has recieved $15,000 from the Thoroughbred Racing Association in his career. Sounds like money well spent.

And lo and behold, the Junior Senator from Kentucky is getting in on the act too. Sen. Rand Paul attended a fundraiser last week hosted by, guess who, the Thoroughbred Racing Association PAC.

It seems that Paul, who galloped into office to "Change Washington, D.C.," is now jockeying for position among the elite big money special interest crowd. There's no telling how much the Tea Party favorite--who has called for drastic spending cuts--reaped in campaign contributions from the fundraiser. But it will be interesting to see if he sticks to his guns, or gets whipped into shape by a special interest purebred like McConnell, and the horseracing industry campaign cash he just hauled in.

Rand Paul changing Washington? Not if he follows in Big Money Mitch's footsteps.