Three Questions for the Kochs as they “Defend the American Dream”

This weekend, capping off an interesting week for the Koch brothers, their chief political arm, Americans For Prosperity is hosting their so-called “Defending the American Dream Summit.” This is their public-facing summit, not to be confused with the highly secretive meeting of billionaires that dominated this week’s political conversation, after new audio surfaced from the event.

Those newly released recordings further exposed the degree to which the billionaire brothers have taken the reins of the Republican Party. One key Senate candidate after the next extolled the Kochs and their increasingly powerful network, expressing gratitude for their support and reaffirming their devotion to the extreme agenda they champion. On top of that, the executive director of the Republican Governors’ Association lauded AFP as their strongest partner.

The more we learn about the Koch brothers’ shadowy operation, the more we see how central they’ve become to the GOP. In fact, Washington Post recently rated AFP America’s third largest party. So it’s no surprise that at their American Dream-defending summit this weekend, 2016 hopefuls Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Mike Pence and Ben Carson will be in attendance, courting the kingmakers’ favor.

Here are a few questions the Kochs should answer at their event:

  1. How does opposition to the minimum wage, a position now espoused by many of the Republican candidates you support, help workers trying to realize the American Dream?
  2. Will you urge the Republican Party to support another government shutdown, as Mitch McConnell implied he would do at your summit?
  3. It’s now abundantly clear that candidates around the country are attending your private retreats to pander for your money. You guys have clearly proven to be wise investors, so what do you expect in return for propping up these politicians’ carers?

Indiana’s Mike Pence could be the Kochs’ 2016 candidate of choice

On the heels of new revelations about the Koch brothers’ favorite 2014 GOP Senate candidates, POLITICO looks at a candidate the Kochs may be grooming for a 2016 run — Indiana Governor Mike Pence. The report points to numerous instances of alignment between Pence’s activities as a Member of Congress and Governor and the Kochs’ extreme agenda, in addition to the collection of former Pence staffers that are now among the upper echelons of Koch World. Given the hundreds of millions of dollars the Koch network is likely to pour into the next Presidential election — it raised over $400 million in 2012 — the headline’s claim that Pence could have a “Koch advantage” is quite the understatement.

In what reads like a 2,000 word love story about the romance between Pence and the Koch brothers, POLITICO notes that Pence initially piqued the Kochs’ interest as a Member of Congress for his opposition to “Big Government” programs, leading the billionaire brothers to feature Pence at least once at one of their secretive donor “seminars” during that time. Pence has since become a mainstay at Koch events; he’s appearing this weekend at a summit hosted in Dallas by Americans for Prosperity, the Kochs’ political arm. For his part, Pence went out of his way to exalt the Kochs ahead of his appearance at their event, saying that he’s “grateful” for David Koch and AFP, “honored” to be participating in the event and has “immense respect” for one of the Kochs’ top advisors.

Also during his Congressional tenure, Pence advocated for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, among other extreme positions that led one Republican operative to tell POLITICO that Pence is “credible to the conservatives.” As Governor of Indiana, Pence enacted what POLITICO terms “aggressive tax cuts,” which significantly benefited the state’s top earners – a move straight out of the Koch playbook. He did so with full-throated support from AFP Indiana. Indeed, AFP operatives are so enamored of Pence’s oeuvre of extreme, Koch-backed policies that they held up Indiana as a example of a “model state” in a memo to donors obtained by POLITICO. The article also makes note of at least three different former Pence staffers who are now embedded in the Kochs’ political network, none more so than former Pence chief of staff Marc Short, who leads Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a shadowy group known as the Kochs’ “secret bank.”

From Pence’s attendance at Koch events, to AFP’s lauding his work in Indiana as exemplary of the Koch agenda, to the Pence alumni scattered throughout the Koch ranks, POLITICO brings to light many different signs that the Koch winds could be blowing toward a Pence presidential candidacy. But in Koch World, money and political spending are how the brothers really show their love for their favorite candidates, so perhaps no signal is more clear than the $200,000 the brothers gave to Pence’s 2012 gubernatorial campaign.

Never ones to limit themselves to being courted by just one extreme candidate at a time, the Kochs are also auditioning several other potential 2016 Republican candidates this weekend at the AFP summit. In addition to Governor Pence, Koch-inspired activists in attendance will hear from recently indicted Texas Governor Rick Perry, Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and author Dr. Ben Carson.

Even non-attending Koch cronies get shout out at secret donor conference

As revealed by new reporting from The Nation and Huffington Post, GOP Senate candidates Mitch McConnell, Joni Ernst, Tom Cotton and Cory Gardner all had their chance to kiss the ring at the Koch brothers’ secretive donor conference earlier this year. Luckily for some of their compatriots, in-person attendance to pander to the high-rolling “seminar” attendees wasn’t a prerequisite for receiving shout-outs from the presidents of Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners, two key organizations in the Kochs’ political network.

From East to West, AFP president Tim Phillips and Freedom Partners president Marc Short highlighted the Senate campaigns of Virginia’s Ed Gillespie, North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy, Minnesota’s Mike McFadden and Oregon’s Monica Wehby, illustrating that two of the Kochs’ top operatives consider all of these candidates to be exemplary of the anti-working class agenda the billionaires are pushing in this fall’s midterm elections. Put simply, all of these candidates are carrying water for the Kochs, AFP and Freedom Partners, or else Phillips and Short wouldn’t have sung their praises to the Kochs’ network of mysterious donors. Phillips told donors at the event that North Carolina’s Tillis offers “the best opportunity” and that McFadden is “a good candidate,” while Wehby is “running a strong campaign” despite being in “a tough blue state.” In extolling the virtues of Gillespie and Cassidy, Phillips and Short noted that Virginia is a “key state for us” and that energy issues (near and dear to Koch Industries’ heart, of course) represent a “key battleground” in Louisiana.

With the Freedom Partners network committing to spend $500 million in this midterm cycle, including AFP’s pledge to pour over $125 million into the election, these new revelations shed light on which candidates the billionaire Koch brothers view as a sound investment. More on Phillips’ and Short’s’ comments lauding key Senate candidates after the jump:

BREAKING: Newly Released Evidence Shows Kochs Back Candidates Who Share Their Extreme, Self-Serving Agenda

What do Joni Ernst, Tom Cotton, Cory Gardner, and Mitch McConnell all have in common? They all share key aspects of the Kochs’ extreme, self-serving, anti-working families agenda. New reporting tonight by The Nation and Huffington Post on audio from a secretive Koch donor conference - where Ernst, Gardner, Cotton, and McConnell all spoke – demonstrates these candidates’ gratitude for the Kochs’ support, and the extent to which they share the extreme Koch agenda. Whether opposing an increase in the minimum wage (or opposing a federal minimum wage entirely), supporting efforts that would voucherize Medicare, opposing legislative attempts to remedy pay discrimination, or opposing (even “philosophically”) policies that would directly assist those they seek to serve (e.g., the Farm Bill in Arkansas and Renewable Fuel Standards in Iowa), Koch-backed candidates are putting their Koch-backed agenda first above all else.

BACKGROUND:

MITCH MCCONNELL & THE KOCH AGENDA

McConnell And The Koch Brothers Opposed A Federal Minimum Wage Increase

Mitch McConnell Continually Voted Against Raising The Minimum Wage

As A Senator, Mitch McConnell Voted At Least 17 Times Against Increasing The Federal Minimum Wage. According to Senate roll calls obtained from the Secretary of the Senate, Mitch McConnell voted against an increase in the federal minimum wage on at least seventeen different votes. [Secretary of the Senate, Vote 117, 4/30/14; Vote 23, 1/24/07; Vote 179, 6/21/06; Vote 26, 3/7/05; Vote 257,10/19/05; Vote 76, 4/7/00; Vote 356, 11/9/99; Vote 239, 7/30/99; Vote 94, 4/28/99; Vote 77, 3/25/99; Vote 278, 9/22/98; Vote 184, 7/9/96; Vote 183, 7/9/96; Vote 519, 10/27/95; Vote 344, 7/31/95; Vote 68, 5/17/89; Vote 39, 4/12/89]

Koch Brothers Founded And Funded Americans For Prosperity Opposed Raising The Minimum Wage

Americans For Prosperity Identified Opposition To Raising The Minimum Wage As A Key Vote. Americans for Prosperity’s online scorecards of key votes in the 110th, 111th, 112th and 113th Congresses included one vote on raising the minimum wage: 2007 House vote 18, on the Fair Minimum Wage Act. AFP opposed passage of the bill. [AFP Scorecards for the 110th, 111th, 112th and 113th Congresses, Viewed 4/16/14]

Charles Koch Opposed The Minimum Wage

2013: Charles Koch Identified The Federal Minimum Wage As An “Obstacle” To Economic Prosperity, And Said That He Wanted To “Clear Those Out.” According to the Wichita Eagle, “The point of it, Koch said, is that he believes prosperity grows where economic freedom is greatest, where government intervention in business affairs is kept to a minimum. He hopes his ideas will help the country grow, he said. In his interview he emphasized several times that he believes his ideas on economics will help disadvantaged people. […] ‘Anything that people with limited capital can do to raise themselves up, they keep throwing obstacles in their way. And so we’ve got to clear those out. Or the minimum wage. Or anything that reduces the mobility of labor.’” [Wichita Eagle, 7/9/13]

David Koch Ran For Vice-President In 1980 On Ticket That Advocated Abolishing The Minimum Wage

Koch Running Mate Ed Clark: “We Should Abolish The Minimum Wage Laws.” In his book, “A New Beginning,” Clark wrote: “We should abolish the minimum wage laws and licensing laws so that people can once again be free to compete and to work, so that no bureaucrat or politician backed by special interested can ever again stand between a human being and a chance to work for a living, bringing with it the dignity of self-reliance, not the dehumanizing dependency of helpless poverty and unemployment.” [A New Beginning, p. 97, August 1980]

McConnell And The Koch Brothers Opposed Extending Federal Unemployment Benefits

Mitch McConnell Consistently Voted Against Extending Unemployment Benefits

In 2014, Mitch McConnell Voted At Least 12 Times Against Extending Unemployment Benefits. According to Senate roll calls obtained from the Secretary of the Senate, Mitch McConnell voted against extending federal unemployment benefits on at least twelve different votes in 2014. [Secretary of the Senate, Vote 101, 4/7/14; Vote 100, 4/3/14; Vote 97, 4/2/14; Vote 96, 4/2/14; Vote 90, 3/27/14; Vote 24, 2/6/14; Vote 23, 2/6/14; Vote 10, 1/14/14; Vote 9, 1/14/14; Vote 8, 1/14/14; Vote 3, 1/9/14; Vote 2, 1/7/14]

Koch Brothers Founded And Funded Americans For Prosperity Opposed Unemployment Benefits

Americans For Prosperity Identified 11 Votes Against Legislation Starting Or Extending Federal Unemployment Benefits As Key Votes. Americans for Prosperity’s online scorecards of key votes in the 110th, 111th, 112th and 113th Congresses included 16 votes on legislation that contained provisions initiating or extending federal unemployment benefit programs. Those votes were 2012 House vote 659, 2012 Senate vote 251, 2011 House vote 275, 2010 Senate vote 259, 2010 Senate vote 258, 2009 House vote 70, 2009 House vote 46, 2009 Senate vote 64, 2009 Senate vote 61, 2008 House vote 412 and 2008 House vote 330. [AFP Scorecards for the 110th, 111th, 112th and 113th Congresses, Viewed 4/16/14]

Americans For Prosperity Foundation: “Unemployment Insurance Causes Both Job-Seekers And Employers To Make Decisions That Depress Employment In The Economy.” According to the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, “Unemployment insurance causes both job-seekers and employers to make decisions that depress employment in the economy. Job-seekers receive benefits that encourage them to remain unemployed while employers pay taxes so burdensome that they have fewer resources to pay current employees. While UI is undoubtedly well-intentioned, policymakers should keep these severe unintended consequences in mind.” [AmericansForProsperityFoundation.com,June 2012]

McConnell And The Koch Brothers Supported FY 2012 Ryan Budget That Turned Medicare Into A Voucher Program

Mitch McConnell Supported The Ryan Plan

2011: McConnell Voted To Consider FY 2012 Ryan Budget, Which Replaced Medicare With A Premium Support Plan. In May 2011, McConnell voted to consider replacing Medicare with a premium support plan, as part of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2012 to 2021. According to the Congressional Research Service, “Under the new system, Medicare would pay a portion of the beneficiaries’ premiums, i.e., provide ‘premium support.’ The payments would be adjusted for age, health status, and income and would be paid directly by the government to the insurance plan selected by the Medicare beneficiary. In addition, plans with healthier enrollees, would be required to help subsidize plans with less healthy enrollees.” The vote was on a motion to proceed to consider the resolution; the motion failed by a vote of 40 to 57. [Senate Vote 77, 5/25/11; CRS, 4/13/11]

Koch Brothers Founded And Funded Americans For Prosperity Supported The Ryan Plan

2011: AFP Backed FY 2012 Ryan Budget, Which Replaced Medicare With A Premium Support Plan. According to AFP’s congressional scorecard for the 112th Congress, AFP took a “yes” position the House vote on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2012 to 2021 which included a proposal to replace Medicare with a premium support plan. [AFP Scorecard for the 112th Congress, 2/1/13; CRS Report #R41767, 4/13/11]

TOM COTTON & THE KOCH AGENDA

Cotton And The Koch Brothers Opposed The Farm Bill

Tom Cotton Was Only Member Of The Arkansas Delegation To Vote Against The Farm Bill

Cotton Was The Only Member Of The Arkansas Delegation To Vote Against The Farm Bill. According to an Arkansas Farm Bureau press release, “The U.S. House of Representatives voted down the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. With a vote of 195 for and 234 against, the House rejected the proposal, leaving a huge question about U.S. farm programs going forward. Out of the Arkansas delegation Reps. Rick Crawford, Tim Griffin, and Steve Womack voted for the proposal. Rep. Tom Cotton voted against it.” [Arkansas Farm Bureau Press Release, 6/20/13]

Koch Brothers Founded And Funded Americans For Prosperity Opposed Farm Bill

In January 2014, Americans For Prosperity Opposed The Farm Bill Conference Report And Urged Members Of Congress To Vote “No.” According to the AFP’s scorecard website, AFP took the position “No” on both the House and Senate votes on the 2014 Farm Bill conference report, which reauthorized federal farm and nutrition assistance programs through fiscal year 2018. [Senate Vote 21 (2014), AFP Scorecard website, Viewed 8/25/14; House Vote 31 (2014), AFP Scorecard website, Viewed 8/25/14; Congressional Quarterly, 1/28/14]

Cotton And The Koch Brothers Opposed The Paycheck Fairness Act

Tom Cotton Opposed Paycheck Fairness

Cotton Spokesperson Said That He Opposed The Paycheck Fairness Act. According to the Arkansas News, “‘On the issues that really matter to women and families in Arkansas, issues like paycheck fairness for women in the workplace, Congressman Cotton just isn’t listening to us,’ Amy Schlesing, a spokeswoman for Pryor’s campaign, said in a statement announcing the ad. Last year, House Democrats attempted to bring the bill up for debate but were denied on a procedural vote, 226-192. Cotton voted against considering the measure.[…] Caroline Rabbitt, a spokeswoman for Cotton, said he opposes the bill but supports equal pay for equal work — as is already required by law.” [Arkansas News, 4/8/14]

Koch Industries Lobbied Against Paycheck Fairness

In 2010, Koch Industries Lobbied On The Paycheck Fairness Act. According to Politifact, “Similarly, in 2010, Koch Industries hired the firm of Siff and Lake for $50,000 to lobby Congress on a handful of bills. According to a lobbying report, one of the bills was ‘S. 182, the Paycheck Fairness Act,’ a bill very similar to the current Senate bill. Specifically, Koch Industries wanted to discuss how the bill would change the way employers justify wage disparities. The reports don’t specify whether someone is for or against the legislation. A spokeswoman for Koch Industries did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But their past positions opposing government regulation makes us confident they were against the legislation. If they want to get back to us to dispute this, we’re all ears.” [Politifact, 4/14/14]

Flint Hill Resources, A Koch Subsidiary, Lobbied On The Paycheck Fairness Act. According to Politifact, “In 2009, Flint Hills Resources, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, spent $960,000 lobbying Congress on a wide range of issues, from energy to taxes. Listed among the bills Flint Hills Resources lobbied are a previous incarnation of the Paycheck Fairness Act and what would become known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which passed both chambers of Congress and was eventually signed by President Barack Obama into law.” [Politifact, 4/14/14]

David Koch Ran For Vice President On Platform Opposing Equal Pay Legislation

During The 1980 Presidential Campaign, David Koch’s Presidential Ticket Opposed Equal Pay Legislation.According to the Ed Clark For President Committee, On The Issue, Women’s Rights White Paper, “I support the concept of equal pay for equal work, for example, and I believe that women should have as much upward mobility in corporations as men do. But I do not believe legislation – government coercion – is either the moral or the most effective way to reach these goals.” [Ed Clark For President Committee, On The Issue, Women’s Rights White Paper, 1980]

Cotton And The Koch Brothers Supported FY 2012 Ryan Budget That Turned Medicare Into a Voucher Program

Tom Cotton

Cotton Supported Paul Ryan FY 2012 Budget. According to National Review, “Nonetheless, [Cotton] supports Rep. Paul Ryan’s ‘Path to Prosperity’ plan and a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.” [National Review, 10/7/11, via CottonforCongress.com, accessed 11/14/13]

Koch Brothers

AFP Backed FY 2012 Ryan Budget, Which Replaced Medicare With A Premium Support Plan. According to AFP’s congressional scorecard for the 112th Congress, AFP took a “yes” position the House vote on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2012 to 2021 which included a proposal to replace Medicare with a premium support plan. [AFP Scorecard for the 112th Congress, 2/1/13; CRS Report #R41767,4/13/11]

JONI ERNST & THE KOCH AGENDA

Ernst And The Koch Brothers Opposed A Federal Minimum Wage Increase

Joni Ernst

Ernst Opposed Raising The Minimum Wage. According to a transcript of the U.S. Senate Republican Primary debate hosted by Iowa Public Television, “Borg: But you avoided, to the best of my knowledge you avoided saying whether or not to raise the current – Ernst: I would not raise the current one. I do believe that we have a number of people that will start in those introductory level jobs and hopefully then progress out of those jobs into better paying jobs as their skills increase.” [IPTV, 4/24/14]

Koch Brothers Founded And Funded Americans For Prosperity Opposed Raising The Minimum Wage

Americans For Prosperity Identified Opposition To Raising The Minimum Wage As A Key Vote. Americans for Prosperity’s online scorecards of key votes in the 110th, 111th, 112th and 113th Congresses included one vote on raising the minimum wage: 2007 House vote 18, on the Fair Minimum Wage Act. AFP opposed passage of the bill. [AFP Scorecards for the 110th, 111th, 112th and 113th Congresses, Viewed 4/16/14]

Charles Koch Opposed The Minimum Wage

2013: Charles Koch Identified The Federal Minimum Wage As An “Obstacle” To Economic Prosperity, And Said That He Wanted To “Clear Those Out.” According to the Wichita Eagle, “The point of it, Koch said, is that he believes prosperity grows where economic freedom is greatest, where government intervention in business affairs is kept to a minimum. He hopes his ideas will help the country grow, he said. In his interview he emphasized several times that he believes his ideas on economics will help disadvantaged people. […] ‘Anything that people with limited capital can do to raise themselves up, they keep throwing obstacles in their way. And so we’ve got to clear those out. Or the minimum wage. Or anything that reduces the mobility of labor.’” [Wichita Eagle, 7/9/13]

David Koch Ran For Vice-President In 1980 On Ticket That Advocated Abolishing The Minimum Wage

Koch Running Mate Ed Clark: “We Should Abolish The Minimum Wage Laws.” In his book, “A New Beginning,” Clark wrote: “We should abolish the minimum wage laws and licensing laws so that people can once again be free to compete and to work, so that no bureaucrat or politician backed by special interested can ever again stand between a human being and a chance to work for a living, bringing with it the dignity of self-reliance, not the dehumanizing dependency of helpless poverty and unemployment.” [A New Beginning, p. 97, August 1980]

Ernst And The Koch Brothers On EliminatingThe Renewable Fuel Standard

Joni Ernst

Ernst Spokesman Said That “In A Perfect World, In A Free Market, She Would Support Doing Away With [The RFS].” According to the Sioux City Journal, “‘I understand that we are an ag economy here in Iowa and until we eliminate those subsidies across the board — every sector and at the same time — I’m going to continue to support the RFS,’ Ernst says. It’s the difference between a perfect world and the real world, according to campaign spokeswoman Gretchen Hamel. ‘In a perfect world, in a free market, she would support doing away with (the RFS), but that’s not the case,’ Hamel explained.” [Sioux City Journal, 7/29/14]

Ernst Was “Philosophically Opposed” To The Renewable Fuel Standard. According to the Sioux City Journal, “That’s no surprise to Sarah Benzing, campaign manager for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and Iowa 1st District Rep. Bruce Braley, because ‘Ernst said she’s ‘philosophically opposed’ to the RFS.’ She is, Ernst says, but until all federal mandates and subsidies are eliminated is ‘philosophically opposed,’ the state senator from Red Oak will continue to support the Renewable Fuel Standard – the RFS. It requires fuel refiners to replace some of their traditional fuels with liquids like corn-based ethanol.

Koch Brothers Founded And Funded Americans For Prosperity Opposed Renewable Fuels Standards

Americans For Prosperity Official Said That “AFP Supports Efforts To Repeal The RFS Entirely. We Have Endorsed Legislation In Congress That Does So.” According to testimony from Christine Harbin Hanson, Federal Affairs Manager for Americans for Prosperity, during a public hearing by the Environmental Protection Agency, “On behalf of over 2 million AFP activists in all 50 states, I am pleased to have the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule for the 2014 Standards for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program. Let me state from the start that AFP supports efforts to repeal the RFS entirely.” [Christine Harbin Hanson – Environmental Protection Agency, Public Hearing Testimony, 12/5/13]

Americans For Prosperity Official Said That “AFP Strongly Supports Efforts To Permanently Eliminate The RFS.”According to testimony from Christine Harbin Hanson, Federal Affairs Manager for Americans for Prosperity, during a public hearing by the Environmental Protection Agency, “Given it’s numerous downsides, AFP strongly supports efforts to permanently eliminate the RFS.” [Christine Harbin Hanson – Environmental Protection Agency, Public Hearing Testimony,12/5/13]

Charles Koch Opposed Ethanol Subsidies

Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch Opposed Ethanol Subsidies. According to the Des Moines Register, “Charles Koch – the new owner of ethanol plants at Fairbank, Iowa Falls, Menlo, and Shell Rock – has come out against tax credits or other subsidies for biofuels. Koch’s position isn’t necessarily a surprise; the Koch family has long espoused conservative political positions. In an article in the Wall Street Journal last week, Koch, who is CEO of Koch Industries, wrote ‘because of government mandates, our refining business is essentially obligated to be in the ethanol business. We believe that ethanol – and every other product in the marketplace – should be required to compete on its own merits, without mandates, subsidies or protective tariffs. Such policies only increase the prices of those products, taxes and the cost of many other goods and services.” [Des Moines Register, 3/6/11]

Ernst And The Koch Brothers Supported Privatizing Social Security

Joni Ernst Supported Private Social Security Accounts

Ernst Supported “Transitioning” Younger Workers From Social Security To Personal Savings Accounts, Which Could Include Investments In The Stock Market. According to a debate prompt about Social Security answered by state Sen. Joni Ernst, “However, we do need to look at younger workers as they are working their way towards that Social Security age. Those younger workers that are entering the workforce now–James, this would be you–but, entering the workforce, transitioning them into perhaps a personal savings account. And again, something that cannot be raided by federal bureaucrats. It is their own savings account. Whether it’s tied to the market, whether it is an interest-bearing savings account, those are some things that we need to have discussions on.” [KWQC, 5/19/14]

Koch Brothers Founded And Funded Americans For Prosperity Advocated For Private Social Security Accounts

Americans For Prosperity Foundation Supported Private Social Security Accounts. According to Americans for Prosperity Foundation, “Thankfully, there is a better way. We could empower workers with a choice: stay with the tax-and-benefit system of Social Security as it is now, or save and invest your same payroll tax contributions through a personal savings account. Instead of seeing their hard-earned dollars funneled through Washington to pay for current retirees’ benefits, workers would truly own and control the accumulated funds and could invest them with a wide variety of investment funds offering different mixes of stocks and bonds and different levels of risk and reward.” [AmericansForProsperityFoundation.com, February 2012]

David Koch Ran For Vice-President In 1980 On A Platform That Advocated Eliminating Social Security

Clark-Koch Called Social Security “The Most Serious Threat To The Future Stability Of Our Society Next To The Threat Of Nuclear War.” According to a press release from the Clark for President Committee, “Clark said Social Security ‘the most serious threat to the future stability of our society next to the threat of nuclear war.’” [Clark for President Committee, 9/24/80]

CORY GARDNER & THE KOCH AGENDA

Gardner And The Koch Brothers Opposed A Federal Minimum Wage Increase

Cory Gardner

Gardner Opposed Increasing The Federal Minimum Wage. According to an interview with The Ross Kaminsky Show on 850 KOA News Radio, Gardner said, “So we saw this past week that, as the Congressional Budget Office report issued, economists who validate the fact that jobs will be lost—hundreds of thousands of people will lose their jobs—jobs will be lost as a result of a minimum wage increase.” [850 KOA, 2/23/14]

Koch Brothers Founded And Funded Americans For Prosperity Opposed Raising The Minimum Wage

Americans For Prosperity Identified Opposition To Raising The Minimum Wage As A Key Vote. Americans for Prosperity’s online scorecards of key votes in the 110th, 111th, 112th and 113th Congresses included one vote on raising the minimum wage: 2007 House vote 18, on the Fair Minimum Wage Act. AFP opposed passage of the bill. [AFP Scorecards for the 110th, 111th, 112th and 113th Congresses, Viewed 4/16/14]

Charles Koch Opposed The Minimum Wage

2013: Charles Koch Identified The Federal Minimum Wage As An “Obstacle” To Economic Prosperity, And Said That He Wanted To “Clear Those Out.” According to the Wichita Eagle, “The point of it, Koch said, is that he believes prosperity grows where economic freedom is greatest, where government intervention in business affairs is kept to a minimum. He hopes his ideas will help the country grow, he said. In his interview he emphasized several times that he believes his ideas on economics will help disadvantaged people. […] ‘Anything that people with limited capital can do to raise themselves up, they keep throwing obstacles in their way. And so we’ve got to clear those out. Or the minimum wage. Or anything that reduces the mobility of labor.’” [Wichita Eagle, 7/9/13]

David Koch Ran For Vice-President In 1980 On Ticket That Advocated Abolishing The Minimum Wage

Koch Running Mate Ed Clark: “We Should Abolish The Minimum Wage Laws.” In his book, “A New Beginning,” Clark wrote: “We should abolish the minimum wage laws and licensing laws so that people can once again be free to compete and to work, so that no bureaucrat or politician backed by special interested can ever again stand between a human being and a chance to work for a living, bringing with it the dignity of self-reliance, not the dehumanizing dependency of helpless poverty and unemployment.” [A New Beginning, p. 97, August 1980]

Gardner And The Koch Brothers Opposed The Paycheck Fairness Act

Cory Gardner

2013: Gardner Voted Against Considering The Paycheck Fairness Act, Which Would Make It Easier For Women To Successfully Sue Over Pay Discrimination, And Increase Employer Penalties In Such Cases. In April 2013, Gardner effectively voted to block House consideration of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which, according to the Congressional Research Service, would “increase penalties for employers who pay different wages to men and women for ‘equal work,’ and would add programs for training, research, technical assistance, and pay equity employer recognition awards.” [House Vote 97, 4/11/13; Congressional Quarterly, 4/11/13; CRS Report #RL31867, 11/22/13; “The Vote on the Previous Question: What It Really Means,” House Rules Committee Minority Staff Memo,  3/18/10]

Koch Industries Lobbied Against Paycheck Fairness

In 2010, Koch Industries Lobbied On The Paycheck Fairness Act. According to Politifact, “Similarly, in 2010, Koch Industries hired the firm of Siff and Lake for $50,000 to lobby Congress on a handful of bills. According to a lobbying report, one of the bills was ‘S. 182, the Paycheck Fairness Act,’ a bill very similar to the current Senate bill. Specifically, Koch Industries wanted to discuss how the bill would change the way employers justify wage disparities. The reports don’t specify whether someone is for or against the legislation. A spokeswoman for Koch Industries did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But their past positions opposing government regulation makes us confident they were against the legislation. If they want to get back to us to dispute this, we’re all ears.” [Politifact, 4/14/14]

Flint Hill Resources, A Koch Subsidiary, Lobbied On The Paycheck Fairness Act. According to Politifact, “In 2009, Flint Hills Resources, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, spent $960,000 lobbying Congress on a wide range of issues, from energy to taxes. Listed among the bills Flint Hills Resources lobbied are a previous incarnation of the Paycheck Fairness Act and what would become known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which passed both chambers of Congress and was eventually signed by President Barack Obama into law.” [Politifact, 4/14/14]

David Koch Ran For Vice President On Platform Opposing Equal Pay Legislation

During The 1980 Presidential Campaign, David Koch’s Presidential Ticket Opposed Equal Pay Legislation.According to the Ed Clark For President Committee, On The Issue, Women’s Rights White Paper, “I support the concept of equal pay for equal work, for example, and I believe that women should have as much upward mobility in corporations as men do. But I do not believe legislation – government coercion – is either the moral or the most effective way to reach these goals.” [Ed Clark For President Committee, On The Issue, Women’s Rights White Paper, 1980]

Gardner And The Koch Brothers Supported FY 2012 Ryan Budget That Turned Medicare Into A Voucher Program

Cory Gardner Supported The Ryan Plan

2011: Gardner Voted For FY 2012 Ryan Budget, Which Replaced Medicare With A Premium Support Plan. In April 2011, Gardner voted for replacing Medicare with a premium support plan, as part of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2012 to 2021. According to the Congressional Research Service, “Under the new system, Medicare would pay a portion of the beneficiaries’ premiums, i.e., provide ‘premium support.’ The payments would be adjusted for age, health status, and income and would be paid directly by the government to the insurance plan selected by the Medicare beneficiary. In addition, plans with healthier enrollees, would be required to help subsidize plans with less healthy enrollees.” The vote was on passage; the resolution passed by a vote of 235 to 193. [House Vote 277, 4/15/11; CRS Report #R41767, 4/13/11]

Koch Brothers Founded And Funded Americans For Prosperity Supported The Ryan Plan

2011: AFP Backed FY 2012 Ryan Budget, Which Replaced Medicare With A Premium Support Plan. According to AFP’s congressional scorecard for the 112th Congress, AFP took a “yes” position the House vote on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2012 to 2021 which included a proposal to replace Medicare with a premium support plan. [AFP Scorecard for the 112th Congress, 2/1/13; CRS Report #R41767, 4/13/11]

Back to school at Koch University

With summer coming to a close, the Koch brothers have created a handy shopping list for all of your Back to School needs: 

  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • 3-ring binders
  • Anti-government propaganda

One of these items may not seem like the others, but according to Slate, the Koch-funded Institute for Humane Studies thinks that teaching materials that “vilify the government” deserve a place in the classroom right alongside the dry-erase markers. This marks the first full school year that The Edvantage, a project of IHS, will make its radical libertarian curriculum materials available online to teachers for free.

According to the report, The Edvantage’s online hub is replete with “educational videos, articles and podcasts on topics including economics, history and philosophy,” that go out of their way to decry the Environmental Protection Agency and the minimum wage while touting sweatshops as being beneficial to workers in the developing world. All of these positions are tenets of the Kochs self-serving agenda, suggesting that The Edvantage is yet another effort by the Kochs to indoctrinate students. Lest you think that The Edvantage’s similarities to the Koch platform are mere coincidence, consider that the materials are short on opposing viewpoints and lack “ideological balance,” according to Slate.

All of the aforementioned, Libertarian-tinged Edvantage resources are free for teachers, which is as calculated as it is charitable. As the Huffington Post noted about the Kochs’ “Young Entrepreneurs” program, many of our country’s struggling, underfunded school districts are not in a position to turn down free curriculum resources. Conveniently, the Kochs support the abolishment of the federal Department of Education and with it, all federal education funding, in addition to backing Republican candidates like Scott Walker and Thom Tillis who have slashed their respective state education budgets.

It would appear that The Edvantage lacks a math curriculum, so we’ve started one for them:

(Schools – School Funding) + Free Koch-inspired teaching materials = Koch indoctrination machines
Here at Real Koch Facts, we refer frequently to the “Koch brothers” as shorthand for Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who are committed to deploying their wealth in service of their self-serving, Conservative political agenda. But Charles and David actually have two more brothers, Bill and Fred, and this past weekend, Bill gave an interview to the Associated Press. The AP released a few nuggets of the interview, providing a glimpse into the thinking of one of the more reclusive members of the Koch family.

Whether it be their desire to abolish the federal minimum wage, repeal all campaign finance laws or roll back basic environmental protections, there are no shortage of examples of radical policies espoused by Charles and David, their political arm, Americans for Prosperity, and the Republican candidates they support. Earlier this year, Charles Koch penned an op-ed that falsely claimed that Koch Industries was a “model” for a cleaner environment and that misrepresented his past political involvement. The foundation bearing Charles’ name is currently pursuing a “well-being initiative” that aims to convince people that programs which support working families are actually undermining their happiness.

Turns out even Bill Koch thinks his brother Charles’ views are “extreme.” According to the AP, Bill said of Charles: “He’s a born-again libertarian or a born-again conservative and sometimes born-agains take positions that are a bit extreme.”

Other highlights from the AP’s interview summary include Bill saying that his brother Charles “collects money” – no surprise there – and that his brothers are “putting their money where their mouths are,” a very polite way of saying that they intend to spend over $125 million in this year’s midterm elections.

Americans for Prosperity wants to keep the GOP on Cruz control

After he shut down the government last year, and derailed House Republicans’ attempt to pass a bill in response to the Mexico border crisis this summer, it’s evident that Senator Ted Cruz is responsible for pushing the GOP even further to the far right. His extreme-Conservative-or-nothing approach to governing is now driving the Republican agenda on critical issues like health care and immigration reform.

Just ask the Koch brothers’ political arm, Americans for Prosperity, who are so convinced of Cruz’s leadership that they’re hosting him twice this month. Tonight, Senator Cruz will be joining a phone “chat” with AFP’s president Tim Phillips, where “grassroots activists” can learn how they, too, can help grind the work of government to a halt. Later this month, Cruz is the headliner for an AFP summit that promises attendees the opportunity to hear from lawmakers “leading the charge against big government.”

In addition to giving Senator Cruz a platform for his obstructionist agenda, AFP is poised to spend the most of any outside group supporting Republicans in this fall’s midterm elections. It’s clear that the Kochs and AFP want to keep the entire GOP on Cruz control.

Rick Perry was due to appear in court in Texas today for the formal reading of his two felony charges after being indicted for an abuse of power. But Perry thought to himself, why waste time at my arraignment in Travis County when I could be flying to New Hampshire to appear at an event with the Koch brothers’ Americans For Prosperity? 
 
That anyone could think Rick Perry might be able rehabilitate his image to the point of being a viable presidential candidate in 2016 is stupefying. Perry’s 2012 campaign went down in flames, and since then, he’s compared homosexuality to alcoholism and been indicted on multiple felony charges. But clearly Perry is still eying that impossible comeback, because YOLO.
 
Why else would Perry, the governor of Texas, be flying to New Hampshire to stump with Koch cronies about the state’s business tax rate? The trip highlights Rick Perry’s Tea Party priorities, for sure. But worse, it’s yet another indicator of the new power structure of the Republican Party. And Perry will be back with the Kochs and friends next weekend, joining the likes of Ted Cruz and Ben Carson at an AFP summit in Dallas. Yup, if you want to run for president, better start revving up your Koch-pandering engines now.

Joni Ernst and Terri Lynn Land: Fighting for Small Businesses Like Koch Industries

Yesterday, Iowa Republican Joni Ernst announced that she was “proud” to receive the endorsement of the National Federal of Independent Business (NFIB) for her candidacy for U.S. Senate. Michigan Republican Terri Lynn Land was similarly flattered when she received NFIB’s endorsement last month (oh, except for that time she walked away from a question about it). Either way, one thing should be clear: NFIB is not about small business, it’s about the Kochs.

NFIB received more money in 2012 from the billionaire Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners than it did any other source, and has now been shown to have close ties with ALEC, the advocacy group of choice for dozens of multinational corporations like ExxonMobil, AT&T and Altria. NFIB’s advocacy for tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest Americans, like the Koch brothers, is but one example of the group not having the interests of small business owners at heart. 

The suggestion that an NFIB endorsement is proof of small business support is at best misleading, but when taken with Joni’s predilection for Koch cronyism, it’s more evidence of her commitment to the Kochs’ self-serving, anti-working families agenda.

Terri Lynn Land and Joni Ernst are not only both brimming with pride to receive the support of the Koch-funded NFIB, they’ve both gone out of their way to praise the spending being done on their behalf by the Kochs’ political arm, Americans for Prosperity. Where Land considers dark money political spending “the American way,” Ernst has publicly thanked AFP  for running ads against her Democratic opponent.

Indeed, for this Senate candidate duo, support from a Koch group by any other name — NFIB, AFP or otherwise — is just as sweet.

What do Joni Ernst, the Kochs and Glenn Beck have in common?

Ever the Koch brothers’ crony, Iowa candidate for Senate Joni Ernst is in lockstep with their radical agenda, advocating the Kochs’ stance on numerous issues, including opposition to an increased minimum wage and support for cutting Medicare’s guaranteed benefits. Turns out the Kochs and Ernst don’t just share the same extreme, out-of-touch policy positions, they also subscribe to the same obscure conspiracy theories.

Yahoo News has the scoop this week on Ernst’s repeated rants against Agenda 21, an anti-U.N. conspiracy theory favored by the likes of Glenn Beck. Agenda 21 is a voluntary community planning provision that has been on the books for decades, yet as MSNBC notes, it seems like Ernst has “given the fringe topic quite a bit of thought.” Indeed, according to the Yahoo report, Ernst has warned “that Agenda 21 could force Iowa farmers off their land, dictate what cities Iowans must live in, and control how Iowa citizens travel from place to place.”

Not ones to miss out on crying foul about any affront (imagined or otherwise) to property rights, the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity Foundation has voiced similarly misguided claims about Agenda 21. In 2012 — two whole decades after the provision was adopted — AFP Foundation released an anti-sustainable development “Need to Know” brief, saying that Agenda 21 “will literally change the way we live.” Hardly the first example of AFP’s fear-mongering rhetoric having a tenuous relationship with reality.

Agenda 21 is just the latest example of the Koch brothers and Joni Ernst propagating the same radical conservative ideology.  To recast an age-old expression, Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst is an extreme, Koch-approved conservative in moderate’s clothing.

Paid for by American Bridge 21st Century Foundation