Billionaire conservative megadonor Charles Koch slammed President Donald Trump’s announced plans to impose fresh tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in a Washington Post op-ed, arguing that such policies would do far more harm than good for the U.S., both economically and culturally.
“Just as the United States benefits from the ideas and skills that opportunity-seeking immigrants bring with them, free trade has been essential to our society’s prosperity and to people improving their lives,” Koch wrote in his op-ed, published online Wednesday night. “Countries with the freest trade have tended to not only be the wealthiest but also the most tolerant. Conversely, the restriction of trade — whether through tariffs, quotas or other means — has hurt the economy and pitted people against each other.
“Without a doubt, those who can least afford it will be harmed the most. Having just helped consumers keep more of their money by passing tax reform, it makes little sense to take it away via higher costs,” Koch wrote.
During a closed-door gathering of major donors in Southern California on Monday, the political operation spearheaded by the Koch brothers unveiled a significant new weapon in its rapidly expanding arsenal — a super PAC called Freedom Partners Action Fund. The new group aims to spend more than $15 million in the 2014 midterm campaigns — part of a much larger spending effort expected to total $290 million, sources told POLITICO. It’s an evolution for billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. The vast network of political nonprofit groups they helped build has mostly funneled its unprecedented political spending into issue-based campaigns that usually slam Democrats for supporting big government but seldom explicitly ask voters to support GOP candidates.
The libertarian industrialist brothers David and Charles Koch spent more on 2012 elections than previously believed—$400-plus million, new investigations have found. Buried in that reporting is an even more intriguing detail: where and how their political cartel will campaign in 2014.
If you look at the websites of the Koch-backed non-profits identified by the Center for Responsive Politics and mapped even more elaborately by the Washington Post, telling tidbits sketch out the frontline strategy of the Koch-backed wing of the GOP. Thirteen states are priorities, and social media will be used for its propagandizing.
The Center for Shared Services is a job placement agency for the dozen politicized non-profits funded by the Kochs. Besides the Washington beltway, they are looking for nuts-and-bolts campaign staff in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Virginia. They even have a Twitter page for hiring, at FreeMarketRecruiting.
The Koch groups, which railed against Obama and congressional Democrats in 2012, especially want to hire grassroots organizers and social media experts. One group, the Public Notice, describes itself as “an independent non-profit dedicated to providing facts and insight on the economy and how government policy affects Americans’ financial well-being.” It seeks a “social media engagement specialist,” who will “plan, implement, and optimize numerous paid advertising campaigns on diverse channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, YouTube, Google, OutBrain.”
This social media campaign position reflects a shift away from using traditional broadcast media for electioneering, which political consultants say will be the big trend in 2014.
“Campaigns will need… the ability to predict when a conversation on social media has the potential to become rapidly viral or, potentially, nuclear,” wrote Bryan Merica, in Campaign and Elections magazine. “Imagine a communications war room staffed by a college intern… A young team member will know when to raise the red flag and alert senior campaign staffers to a quick moving story or sentiment.”
The Kochs’ cartel seems to be embracing this strategy. Voters and social media users in its 13 targeted states may soon start seeing messages from any number of little-known Koch-funded groups with anti-government messaging. These include:
• The 60 Plus Association. Founded in 1992, it tries to be the right-wing version of the American Association of Retired persons, or AARP. The Post found that it spent $4.6 million on ads against Obama, Obamacare and House Democrats in 2012.
An analysis by The Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics published Sunday revealed that Koch Industries-backed entities operating in the opaque world of political dark money raised more than $400 million during the 2012 election cycle largely from anonymous donors.
The Post and CRP examined 17 conservative groups that made up the Koch network of loosely-affiliated organizations and found that they had raised at least $407 million during the 2012 campaign. The amount is comparable to the combined spending of all unions in state, federal and local races, and dwarfs all other sources of political spending in 2012 other than, perhaps, the Karl Rove-associated Crossroads super PAC and nonprofit group which brought in $325 million in the last cycle.
It isn’t clear, despite the Post analysis, how much the Koch brothers themselves contributed to the affiliated groups, in part because they used complicated and sophisticated financial processes to shield the identities of donors.
Shortly after President Obama started his second term, a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. Their push to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care law was going nowhere, and they desperately needed a new plan.
Out of that session, held one morning in a location the members insist on keeping secret, came a little-noticed “blueprint to defunding Obamacare,” signed by Mr. Meese and leaders of more than three dozen conservative groups.
It articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans — including their cautious leaders — into cutting off financing for the entire federal government.
“We felt very strongly at the start of this year that the House needed to use the power of the purse,” said one coalition member, Michael A. Needham, who runs Heritage Action for America, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation. “At least at Heritage Action, we felt very strongly from the start that this was a fight that we were going to pick.”
A tiny wealthy male elite is behind most of the biggest contributions to the 2012 election cycle in the US, a new study shows. The report comes as US Supreme Court considers whether it should strip a ceiling on political donations.
In a case the Supreme Court will begin hearing next Thursday, Shaun McCutcheon, a wealthy donor backed by the Republican National Committee, is challenging this aggregate limit on how much an individual may donate overall to candidates, parties and political action committees (PACs) over an election cycle.
If the court strikes down the limit, it could prompt bigger contributions from those who already reached or were about to reach it, argues Public Campaign, a Washington-based advocacy group. Such a move would “put power even further into the hands of Wall Street bankers, billionaires, and K Street lobbyists,” it says.
Former Vice-President Al Gore recently spoke of the need for a new grassroots movement; an American Spring much like the Arab Spring that brought down Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak as well as other leaders across the Middle East. He mentioned the wonderful digital tools that are newly available for the reinvigoration of democracy,” as well as “non-violent change where people on the grassroots get involved again. Not the, you know, not in the Tea Party-style.”
This characterization(or rather mischaracterization in their minds )didn’t go over well with pundits and some factions of the Tea Party; be it the “Express,” “Nation” or “Patriots.” A guest on Sean Hannity’s Great American Panel said Hello…. Al Gore there IS a grassroots movement and it’s called the Tea Party. Ya think? A grassroots movement is defined as not adapted from or added to an existing facility or operation: totally new. How can you be a grassroots when you’re being bankrolled by billionaires? Not just any billionaires either; ever heard of the Koch brothers(David and Charles)? Yes, the uberrich David Koch founded Americans for Prosperity, which has worked closely with the Tea Party since its inception. You’ll hear more about the money the brothers donate to entities such as the Metropolitan Opera House but much less about the shadow organizations such as Americans for Prosperity.
I wrote last summer that those Dixie paper plates and cups at your summer barbecue is partly financing the Tea Party Movement because the Koch brothers own Georgia Pacific, heck they own a lot of stuff and are among the richest men in America. I hope you like your billionaires with two faces because that’s what you’re getting with the Koch Bros. On the one hand they pledge ten million dollars to the MET(Metropolitian Musuem of Art) to fix its crumbling outside fountains and on the other they make the list as one of the top ten air polluters by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts. It’s no secret that the brothers are longtime libertarians but does the Tea Party/so-called grassroots movement really understand what that means. Lower taxes, the bare amount of social services for the needy and to hell with environmental regulation. All fine until a corporation dumps its dirty water right in your back yard. The Koch brothers are rich and could fight it but not you Tea Party Patriot now at the least you could file a complaint with a government agency.
Let’s revisit a more realistic grassroots movment:The Civil Rights Movement. Real change came about for people of color, especially blacks, in the form of voting rights and, yes, improved economic conditions. There were, of course, those who donated time and money to the movement but certainly not millions and certainly not by two rich white men who distrust government at its core. The Tea Party may think they are making radical change to this country but really they are destroying the America that has progressed so much since the 60s.