In a week when this guy is almost universally panned as the country’s biggest asshole, a perennial contender managed to slip under the radar. The election is over, but David Koch is already threatening sitting Republicans with a hurricane of attack ads if they dare divert money from his pockets and into the pockets of the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
From Lee Fong of The Nation (emphasis added):
Earlier this week, AFP, which is chaired by Koch and believed to be financed by several other plutocrats from the New York City region, released a letter warning members of Congress not to vote for the proposed federal aid package for victims of the storm that swept New Jersey, New York City and much of the surrounding area in October. An announcement on the group’s website says that the vote next week for the Sandy aid package will be a “key vote”—meaning senators who support sending money for reconstruction could face an avalanche of attack ads in their next election. Already, opposition to the bill is growing, although it passed one procedural hurdle last night.
There is some legitimate criticism with aspects of the legislation, including the fact that some of the money will go to non-Sandy related reconstruction efforts in disaster areas. For AFP, however, the whole bill must die and victims of the storm deserve no help from the government.
Koch’s top deputy in New Jersey, a surly gentleman named Steve Lonegan, who heads the local AFP state chapter, called the aid package a “disgrace.” “This is not a federal government responsibility,” Lonegan told reporters. “We need to suck it up and be responsible for taking care of ourselves.”
Are you laughing yet? Of course not, you have a heart, but dismay would be appropriate. While David Koch is telling people who have lost their homes – arguably partly caused by climate change, which is made worse by companies like his – to “suck it up,” he is sucking off the government teat. Yasha Levine does a great job of outlining the many ways in which the Koch Industries are welfare queens that are the envy of all welfare queens. Oil holdings and paper sales aside, the Koch brothers owe much of their wealth to tax loopholes and tax subsidies.
The bill in question is $60 million in aid to victims of the devastating North Eastern hurricane, many of whom are still homeless. One criticism levied by the GOP is that 64% of the spending would not reach the intended victims until 2015 at the latest. Their alternative is to propose a bill which totally eliminates that 64%, and then some. They are also taking out any funding to help prevent future hurricane damage or to repair public transportation systems that were damaged by the storm.
Will Koch’s threat work?
Koch Industries spent less than one might think in the 2012 elections, only about $2.2 million. 95% of it was on Republican candidates. At least that’s what we know about. Super Pacs don’t have to reveal their donors, but the Kochs had pledged to spend about $60 million (1/10th of 1% of their $60 billion wealth) to defeat just Obama. Presumably, that doesn’t include congressional and state races. Altogether, Koch backed groups spent about $95 million.
Clearly, the Kochs’ spending did little to influence the Presidential race, other than possibly forcing the President to spend time on fundraising that he would have rather spent working for the people. If anything, their spending, especially in the primary races, might have backfired. Koch backed Republican candidates ran so far to the right that they simply weren’t palatable to the American people. Most voters chose Democrats. If it weren’t for gerrymandering, we would have a Democratic House and Senate.
That’s not to say that Republican lawmakers have learned their lessons. Even John Boehner’s own budget proposal was to the left of the majority of the GOP Congress. They are quivering in their loafers at the thought of Grover Norquist going on the attack. You can be sure that David Koch is no less of a threat.