Posts Tagged ‘Americans for Prosperity’

The power of the Koch brothers

October 28, 2011

Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have a more powerful influence on American politics and policy than many governors and senators.  By my standards, President Barack Obama is a conservative, who has protected and bailed out Wall Street bankers while seeking to undermine Social Security and Medicare.  By theirs, he is a socialist, and they intend to drive the country into an even more extreme pro-corporate direction.  The above video and the following text provide a good report on them.

Charles and David Koch are each worth about $25 billion, which makes them the fourth richest Americans. When you combine their fortunes, they are the third wealthiest people in the world.  Radical libertarians who use their money to oppose government and virtually all regulation as interference with the free market, the Kochs are in a class of their own as players on the American political stage.  Their web of influence in the U.S. stretches from state capitals to the halls of congress in Washington, D.C.

The Koch brothers fueled the conservative Tea Party movement that vigorously opposes Barack Obama, the U.S. president.  They fund efforts to derail action on global warming, and support politicians who object to raising taxes on corporations or the wealthy to help fix America’s fiscal problems.  According to New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, who wrote a groundbreaking exposé of the Kochs in 2010, they have built a top to bottom operation to shape public policy that has been “incredibly effective. They are so rich that their pockets are almost bottomless, and they can keep pouring money into this whole process.”

Koch industries, the second largest privately-held company in the US, is an oil refining, chemical, paper products and financial services company with revenues of a $100 billion a year.  Virtually every American household has some Koch product—from paper towels and lumber, to Stainmaster carpet and Lycra in sports clothes, to gasoline for cars.  The Kochs’ political philosophy of rolling back environmental and financial regulations is also beneficial to their business interests.

The Kochs rarely talk to the press, and conduct their affairs behind closed doors.  But at a secret meeting of conservative activists and funders the Kochs held in Vail, Colorado this past summer, someone made undercover recordings.  One caught Charles Koch urging participants to dig deep into their pockets to defeat Obama. “This is the mother of all wars we’ve got in the next 18 months,” he says, “for the life or death of this country.” He called out the names of 31 people at the Vail meeting who each contributed more than $1 million over the past 12 months.

In the 2010 congressional elections, the Kochs and their partners spent at least $40 million, helping to swing the balance of power in the U.S. House of Representatives towards right-wing Tea Party Republicans.  It has been reported that the Kochs are planning to raise and spend more than $200 million to defeat Obama in 2012.  But the brothers could easily kick in more without anyone knowing due to loopholes in U.S. law.

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