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The Kochs Call In Their Chips

After they bought themselves a shiny new Congress, the Kochs issue their marching orders.
The Kochs Call In Their Chips

Charles and David Koch paid good money for that fresh-faced Congress, and now they expect to see some results, stat.

At the National Press Club yesterday, AFP president Tim Phillips and several officers with the group laid out their agenda. The group is calling for legalizing crude oil exports, a repeal of the estate tax, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, blocking any hike in the gas tax, a tax holiday on corporate profits earned overseas, blocking the EPA’s new rules on carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants, and a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, along with a specific focus on the medical device tax.

The announcement was touted by NPR as a “conservative agenda for Congress.” But it’s also a near mirror image of Koch Industries’ lobbying agenda. Koch Industries — the petrochemical, manufacturing and commodity speculating conglomerate owned by David and Charles — is not only a financier of political campaigns, but leads one of the most active lobbying teams in Washington, a big part of why the company has been such a financial success.

To their credit, the minions are stepping to. We have a Senate vote on the Keystone XL pipeline coming up, and the first Senate hearing on the ACA took place last week. Unfortunately it didn't go well for conservatives, whose own hand-picked witnesses gave testimony doing harm to their own case.

Puzder and Webb were in a tough spot: They were there to talk about how onerous the 30-hour workweek definition was for their enterprises, but what that really meant was having to explain why they were not providing health coverage to so many of their workers. This task was made more difficult by the contrast with the Democrats’ lone witness—Joe Fugere, the owner of a small pizzeria chain in Seattle who has, even before the passage of Obamacare, offered generous benefits to any of his employees working more than 24 hours a week.

Even conservative pundits aren't helping, particularly with the proposal to redefine 'full-time employee' from 30 hours per week to 40 hours per week:


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Even worse, perhaps, several prominent conservatives have come out against the revision—notably Yuval Levin, one of the right’s most influential policy wonks, who wrote in National Review that changing to 40 hours would inevitably cause more Americans to lose hours than the 30-hour rule does, because there are far more workers just at or above that threshold than at the 30-hour threshold. “By setting the definition lower, Obamacare’s architects were trying to mitigate the damaging effects of the employer mandate some,” Levin wrote in a burst of intellectual honesty, “and by setting it higher Republicans would be worsening those effects.”

But fear not, little Kochheads, because the United States Supreme Court is about to hear the Most Bogus Challenge Ever to the Affordable Care Act, based on a premise that makes absolutely no sense and has even been contradicted by Orrin Hatch and Scott Walker in columns slamming the ACA. That's right. Both Walker and Hatch used the fact that the federal government would establish exchanges in states that opted out as arguments against the ACA, which is exactly opposite of the argument they're trying to make before the Supreme Court.

It hasn't been a terrific week for the Koch Congress, but they're just getting warmed up.

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