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.