Undaunted by wingnut heads exploding everywhere over his remarks last week, Harry Reid escalated his argument against the Kochs with a speech on the Senate floor aimed at the Koch empire of nonprofit political organizations and the Republicans who kowtow to them.
Charles and David Koch are shrewd businessmen. Their wealth is nearly unparalleled – not only in America, but in the world. The brothers inherited a small oil company from their father, and built it into a multi-national corporation that refines oil, manufactures fertilizers and chemicals, makes paper products, extracts minerals, produces glass and even owns a cattle ranch. And like most shrewd businessmen, the oil baron Koch brothers are very good at protecting and growing their prodigious fortune. There’s nothing un-American about that.
But what is un-American is when shadowy billionaires pour unlimited money into our democracy to rig the system to benefit themselves and the wealthiest one percent. I believe in an America where economic opportunity is open to all. But based on their actions and the policies they promote, the Koch brothers seem to believe in an America where the system is rigged to benefit the very wealthy. Based on Senate Republicans’ ardent defense of the Koch brothers, and the fact that they advocate for many of the same policies the Koch brothers do, it seems my Republican colleagues also believe in a system that benefits billionaires at the expense of the middle class. The Koch brothers are willing to invest billions to buy that America.
About Obamacare, ladies and gentlemen?
So the Koch brothers are already seeing a return on their 2010 investment in a Republican House of Representatives. But they haven’t stopped there. The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity alone spent $400 million on misleading attack ads last election cycle. If you’ve seen an ad maligning the Affordable Care Act, chances are the Koch brothers – or one of their shadow groups – paid for it.
No Republican goes unspared:
Republicans Senators have come to the floor to defend the Koch brothers’ attempt to buy our democracy. Once again, Republicans are all-in to protect their billionaire friends.
Not only have Senate Republicans come to the floor to defend the Koch brothers personally, they have, again and again, defended the Kochs’ radical agenda. Senate Republicans have opposed closing a single tax loophole for profitable oil companies or corporations that ship jobs overseas. Senate Republicans have opposed asking billionaires to pay the same higher tax rate as middle-class families pay. Senate Republicans have opposed environmental and workplace safety standards that might cost Koch Industries or their other corporate donors a few extra dollars.
And the Koch brothers are returning the favor with huge donations to Republican Senate candidates. Senate Republicans are addicted to Koch.
In the interest of presenting both sides, here is a quote from a softball interview Charles Koch gave his local business newspaper this week. Koch is responding to a question about Americans for Prosperity and the Koch influence over that organization:
Q: Some have portrayed you as essentially pulling the strings behind the scenes for Americans for Prosperity. What is an accurate portrayal of your involvement with the group?
A: I write a check. David is on the board and is chairman of the 501C3 (AFP Foundation). But believe me, I know what David does and he is not in there day to day. He helps, like the other board members, to set the policy. Now we are major contributors, but they’ve got close to 100,000 contributors and 2 million members. So it’s a big organization and a lot of people are involved. We contribute and we helped start it, so we have some influence. We try to push them on things that will help people make their own lives better and policies that move in the direction of well-being for everybody and fighting cronyism. But they do a lot of different things. Listen, if I could do everything that’s attributed to me, I would be a very busy boy.
Get in line behind me to call BS on that answer. Shall we remember how they took over the Cato Institute in the name of becoming more 'activist'? Or the funding that goes to Heritage and Heritage Action so they can also become more activist?
Today there will be yet another hearing over on the House side about the IRS 'scandal.' Republicans will wave their arms around and whine about how conservative organizations were targeted. They will renew their demands for complete opacity with regard to campaign finance and outside donors to dark organizations. Darrell Issa will narrow his eyes and posture about a search for the truth while his minions browbeat witnesses in order to shape public opinion toward the purchase of our democracy. There will be no truth exposed in that hearing.
Here's the truth. There are at least 400 million reasons why these organizations should be forced to cease political activity, and Harry Reid just made the strongest argument yet for that.