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Grant Bosse

Grant Bosse: Obsession with the Koch brothers clouds the left

If you want to drive liberal activists nuts, mention the Koch brothers. If you want to really make their heads explode, say something nice about the Kochs.

David and Charles Koch own Koch Industries, the second largest privately-held company in the United States after Cargill, according to Forbes. The sprawling conglomerate grew out of the oil business but now runs companies doing everything from ranching and paper mills to finance and venture capital. Koch Industries employs 70,000 people in 60 countries.

David and Charlie Koch are also the most active and influential libertarians in the country. David Koch was the Libertarian candidate for vice president in 1980, but the brothers have since avoided party politics and concentrated on nurturing libertarian ideas. Charlie Koch helped found the Cato Institute, and the brothers are major donors for free-market think tanks across the country. The Koch Family Foundation also supports cancer research, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York City Ballet. Those monsters!

Somehow the modern left has drawn itself deeper and deeper into a conspiracy theory that the Koch brothers are secretly controlling the entire Republican Party in an effort to bring about some sort of anarchist utopia. This despite thousands of articles about the Koch brothers’ political activities and copious evidence that the Republican Party isn’t that serious about sticking to the principles of limited government. It’s the least effective, most well-publicized secret plan you’ve ever seen.

Liberals don’t seem to have a problem with the billionaires who give them money. They aren’t worried about George Soros corrupting democracy. And they certainly don’t turn down grants from the Tides Foundation, the juggernaut behind every left-wing cause since the 1960s. Washington Examiner Executive Editor Mark Tapscott found that despite handing out nearly six times as much money as the Koch brothers, Tides has gotten just a fraction of the coverage from the New York Times, Washington Post and Common Cause.

Surfing through the dozens of websites obsessed with the Koch brothers is a deep dive down the rabbit hole. You see, the incredibly well-known facts that the Koch brothers support places like the Heritage Foundation and Americans for Prosperity isn’t enough. They don’t believe that the Kochs just want lower taxes, smaller government and broader personal freedoms. They insist it’s all part of a plot to get rid of government, make more money or somehow punish poor people.

In New Hampshire, a group called Granite State Progress is currently obsessed with the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.

ALEC invites members of state legislatures to go to conferences, eat hotel food, sit through PowerPoints, and share legislative ideas. They also publish model legislation based on successful bills. If the 50 states are laboratories of democracy, ALEC is where scientists compare their results. ALEC is the right-leaning counterpart to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which caters to state bureaucrats as well as elected officials. I attended three NCSL conferences during my two years working at the State House, one of which was quite informative.

Representatives should probably pay their own way to go to ALEC or NCSL events, but the information they provide is valuable. We should learn from what other states have tried. I’ve often argued against being early adopters. But the theory that the Koch brothers and evil corporations are using ALEC to take over the New Hampshire General Court is laughable.

Ironically, Granite State Progress is currently using its webpage to attack the “Tin Foil Hat Caucus” for opposing Agenda 21. As I wrote last week, Agenda 21 opponents have lost the track. But GSP’s main objection seems to be that they’re wasting the tin foil on the wrong enemy. Their fixation with the Kochs and ALEC is just another flavor of conspiracy.

The anti-corporate paranoia that fuels Koch conspiracy theories came into bloom in the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Fortunately for Democrats, OWS fizzled well before Election Day because it highlighted radical liberalism at its worst. The insidious notion that corporations are out to get us has crept into our culture, and it’s got to stop.

Of course, I could be so wrapped up the Kochs’ web that I don’t even know it. I asked Charlie Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center – where I worked for the past four years and where I’m currently helping research New Hampshire budget issues – if he was part of the vast, secret Koch Empire.

“They don’t give us money, but I wish they would,” Arlinghaus responded.

(Grant Bosse is editor of New Hampshire Watchdog, an independent news site dedicated to New Hampshire public policy.)

Legacy Comments19

Earthling, in my opinion, the folks who get hurt the most by a sales tax, federal or state, are the low income range. And what do you mean by an individual income tax? Lost me there. Also, we have how many folks in the US that do not work? Which means they pay no taxes.

I've heard plenty of Cs on here complaining that something like 44% of Americans pay no income tax. I would think they might like having everyone pay a sales tax, so that everyone is sharing the tax burden in some way. Everyone who buys any product or service now pays for health care costs to some degree, except that no Chinese health care costs are included in Chinese products on our shelves. If we eliminate the employer burden of health care insurance, Medicare, and Medicare, and if we charged a sales tax to cover socialized health care, the cost of US health care would be spread over all products sold here (including imports), just as China does - when Chinese consumers buy US made products they are paying for our health care in the prices, and then their sales tax adds in the Chinese health care costs on their cash register receipt. In other words Chinese consumers get hit with a single whammy for their health care costs only in the sales tax at the cash register, and a double health care whammy when they buy our products which include our health care costs pre tax, plus the added sales tax. Cain proposed a sales tax ,which the Cs loved for a while (until Cain's campaign crashed), but the tax didn't seem to target anything except for lowering the income tax. The sales tax I suggest pays for half (or some other percentage) of US socialized health care for all citizens. The other half would be paid for through a bump up in the tax rate on form 1040 Individual Income Tax Return. The net combined cost effect for both consumers and taxpayers together under this reform would be zero (except that socialized health care is shown to cost far less that what we are now paying in total for our health care). http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040.pdf

"Koch Industries,...... doing everything from ranching and paper mills to finance and venture capital" to inventing the oil market derivative trading speculation that provides the Koch with big profits by jerking us around on gas prices. The Koch's wealth grew by 40% over the last 2 years to $62 billion. If 10% of $62B results in $6.2B of taxable income each year at the 39.6% top bracket rate, the ongoing Reagan tax cut would equivalent to about $5 million per day from the pre-Reagan top rate of 69.125%. We can't afford that ongoing Reagan tax cut for the rich, so we borrow the $. Borrowing from Social Security to hand $5 million per day in tax cuts to a couple of billionaires would likely cost us another $10 million per day in finance charges (interest expense) over the next 30 years, charged to our kid's US debt. Any top bracket rate below 69.125% is a huge ongoing Reagan tax cut for the rich. Koch/*Cato associate William Niskanen was Reagan's trickle down tax cut economic advisor. Forbes http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2012/12/05/inside-the-koch-empire-how-the-brothers-plan-to-reshape-america/ : "organizations, unknown to 99% of the population": "their revolution has been an evolution, with roots going back half a century to Koch’s first contributions to libertarian causes and Republican candidates. In the mid-1970s their business of changing minds got more formal when Charles cofounded what became the *Cato Institute, the first major libertarian think tank. Based in Washington, it has 120 employees devoted to promoting property rights, educational choice and economic freedom. In 1978 the brothers helped found–and still fund–George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, the go-to academy for deregulation; they have funded the Federalist Society, which shapes conservative judicial thinking; the pro-market Heritage Foundation; a California-based center skeptical of human-driven climate change; and many other institutions." The Koch's own lots of oil sands leases in Canada - I wonder if that's why one of their their foundations has "contributed $24.6 million to climate opposition groups from 2005-2011" http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/polluterwatch/koch-industries/claude-r-lambe-foundation/

So now Bush is responsible for how Europe spends their money also earthling? I suggest you look at Europe, because we are headed down that road.

"The U.S. subprime mortgage crisis......had severe, long-lasting consequences for the U.S. and European economies" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Subprime_Mortgage_Financial_Crisis Our nation's debt per capita is about equivalent to that of Greece, thanks to all the borrowing we have done for 30 years to pay for Republican tax cuts for the rich, along with $trillions more in finance charges on the tax cut borrowing.

Why when you make statements earthling you refuse to look at the whole picture, but instead base all your statements on politics? How we got to where we are today is comprised of many things. How much are we spending and on what? What will be the next bubble that bursts? Will taxing business more inspire them to hire more people or expand? Will bursting entitlement programs grow larger? The big picture is one that the left refuses to look at. Instead they look for temporary quick fixes that always end up being long term failures. And the way they do that is by focusing on class warfare, spending and taxing. That is why they fix nothing. They do not know how to. All they know how to do is grow govt bigger, than complain when folks are not cared for. And make excuses for why their failed programs do not work. Actually just one excuse, put more money into failed programs. It is nor rocket science. Economics is not that hard. You practice it everyday with what you have coming in and what you have going out. The fact that you and the left ignore economics, history, and trial an error speaks volumes.

"Will taxing business more inspire them to hire more people or expand?" Maybe you haven't read my posts where I suggested removing the health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance burdens from the backs of employers. We should be paying for those things, including socialized health care for all citizens, as individuals through the individual income tax and a national sales tax. That's what China does, at lower overall cost, and that's a major reason why US manufacturers can't compete with Chinese imports. And that's a big part of the "big picture" you are apparently not seeing.

Who is obsessed with money Tillie? My guess is the folks who keep spending it on failed programs are the ones who are obsessed with money. And the only way for them to get that revenue stream is from folks who actually earn it. The way to do that is by class warfare. You know fair share, the folks who are sucessful being demonized for their success. Even that poor excuse for a person Bill Maher thinks he is paying too much tax wise. I suggest you do a search about who pays what in taxes, what happens when a bad economy is taxed more, and why when you attack business, our economy stalls.

Rabbit, rabbit, that line about "folks who are successful being demonized for their success" gives you away. I mighjustt have heard it before. Those old lines just don't cut it anymore. The way to hurt a bad economy is to stop government spending like Europe has done. You are no economist just a Republican.

The left does demonize success. As far as Europe goes, you are the one who is not an economist. How do you think Europe got where they are? DAH!

"How do you think Europe got where they are?" Would it have anything to do with the global economic crash that started here under Bush?

Tillie Tillie. Your line about the way to hurt an economy is to stop govt spending like Europe has done. What part of the situation in Europe do you not get? Or for that mater you tell me how they got there? Europe is a lesson for what happens. Obviously you do not get the fact that you are encouraging the US to do what Europe has done. Socialism looks terrific at first. But it always fails. Takes time, but eventually it fails because it is not based on economic basics. The only way to sustain an economy is by growth.

leftist Tides foundation spent 6 Times what Koch spent and leftists Teachers Union spent 60 times the annual budget for ALEC -

The Right is obsessed with money. How to get it and how to keep it. The rest is just collateral damage.

“They don’t give us money"? Let's take a look: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Koch_Family_Foundations Maybe you "could be so wrapped up the Kochs’ web that" you don't even know about their money funnels, like the Claude R. Lambe Foundation - Scroll down to 2011 "Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy: $3,500 for "Educational Support""

Interesting. From the link you used, it appears that the Koch Family controls 25% of the Board of the Lambe Foundation, which gave the JBC a small grant two years ago. Anyone else find it ironic that earthling used SourceWatch, part of the Soros operation, to research the Koch Brothers? Not inappropriate; just ironic.

"the Koch Family controls 25% of the Board of the Lambe Foundation"?: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/polluterwatch/koch-industries/claude-r-lambe-foundation/ "The Board of Directors is comprised entirely of Koch family members, senior Koch executives, and staff who serve Koch foundations" Do the Koch brothers control their senior execs and staff? I think so, and it sounds like 100% control to me. "The Claude R. Lambe Foundation is the dominant financier of organizations taking a more visible, active role in day-to-day efforts to oppose clean energy and climate policy. The Foundation contributed $24.6 million to climate opposition groups from 2005-2011" I'd be happy to do some more cross checking for you - to all the other money funnels on the Koch "web", if you will be so kind as to list all $contributions to the JBC for the past few years with names and $amounts. Soros is worth about $20B and wants higher taxes on the wealthy, so America can pay her bills. Buffett is worth about $54B and wants higher taxes on the wealthy for America too. Adelson is worth about $27B and wants more unpatriotic tax cuts - more borrowing from the kids - more trickle down stupidity. The Koch brothers are worth about $62B. After the 1981 election, Koch former associate William Niskanen was Reagan's trickle down genius economic advisor that helped Reagan put America on a runaway debt train by handing out tax cuts to wealthy folks, like the Kochs, and borrowing trillions to do so. We've borrowed trillions more to pay their finance charges for 30 years and counting. BTW, when you wrote about the Kochs being nice and all - donating to the art museum and ballet company - why didn't you mention their backing of the NRA Trigger The Vote campaign? In my opinion the greedy Kochs have way to many single-issue blinder math challenged people duped into voting for more irresponsible anti-America Republican tax cuts for the top 1%. So don't feel bad, you're not the only one.

Gee, it's hard to believe anyone thought you had gone off the deep end. By the way, never buy your tin foil at Sam's Club. Sam Walton made sure to embed a bypass for the government signals before he faked his own death.

To Grant Bosse below (no reply button): We have all "gone off the deep end" into a $16T pool of Republican tax cut/finance charge debt. Do you realize that the average top bracket rate from 1932 to 1981 was 79%? When Carter left office the debt was 33% of GDP, before the Koch/Cato trickle down genius William Niskanen helped Reagan drive America's runaway debt train out of the station. Now the debt is 106% of GDP. Do you know that we have spent over $10 trillion on interest expense over the last 30 years, much of it as a result of the Reagan and Bush tax cut borrowing? Do you know that we can't afford the interest expense which is now about 1/3 of the deficit ($400B/yr)? Keep starving the government and running up the debt by continuing to hand out tax cuts and interest income to the wealthy, while blaming it all on on safety net programs like Social Security? I drove by some large tanks beside 106 the other day - made me think of you at the JBC think tank.

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