You are browsing the archive for Cato Institute.

Top Ten Koch Facts

3:29 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

Co-authored by Jesse Lava

Everyone seems to be investigating Charles and David Koch lately, with exposés of their corrupt political behavior popping up in places like the New Yorker, AlterNet, ThinkProgress, and Brave New Foundation’s film Koch Brothers Exposed. Naturally, the billionaire brothers don’t like the attention, so they’re responding to it by smearing the activists and journalists. In their panic, they have now taken out Google ads attacking me and plastered an ominous image of my eyes on their website, like so:

They made me look like Emperor Palpatine. But who’s really representing the Dark Side here? The truth is that the billionaire brothers bankrolling the conservative movement are using their wealth in a way that should be terrifying to anyone who thinks democracy is about more than pulling a lever every two years and letting rich folks take care of the rest.

Accordingly, here are 10 facts that every American should know about who the Kochs are and what they’re doing to our country.

1. Koch Industries, which the brothers own, is one of the top ten polluters in the United States — which perhaps explains why the Kochs have given $60 million to climate denial groups between 1997 and 2010.

2. The Kochs are the oil and gas industry’s biggest donors to the congressional committee with oversight of the hazardous Keystone XL oil pipeline. They and their employees gave more than $300,000 to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2010 alone.

3. From 1998-2008, Koch-controlled foundations gave more than $196 million to organizations that favor polices that would financially enrich the two brothers. In addition, Koch Industries spent $50 million on lobbying and some $8 million in PAC contributions.

4. The Koch fortune has its origins in engineering contracts with Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union.

5. The Kochs are suing to take over the Cato Institute, which has accused the Kochs of attempting to destroy the group’s identity as an independent, libertarian think and align it more closely with a partisan agenda.

6. A Huffington Post source who was at a three-day retreat of conservative billionaires said the Koch brothers pledged to donate $60 million to defeat President Obama in 2012 and produce pledges of $40 million more from others at the retreat.

7. Since 2000, the Kochs have collected almost $100 million in government contracts, mostly from the Department of Defense.

8. Koch Industries has an annual production capacity of 2.2 billion pounds of the carcinogen formaldehyde. The company has worked to keep it from being classified as a carcinogen even though David Koch is a prostate cancer survivor.

9. The Koch brothers’ combined fortune of roughly $50 billion is exceeded only by that of Bill Gates in the United States.

10. The Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs accused Koch Oil of scheming to steal $31 million of crude oil from Native Americans. Although the company claimed it was accidental, a former executive in this operation said Charles Koch had known about it and had responded to the overages by saying, “I want my fair share, and that’s all of it.”

That last quote — “I want my fair share, and that’s all of it” — encapsulates the unbridled greed driving the Kochs’ political activism and business dealings. Democracy cannot thrive with so much power being in the hands of men like this. If we care about democracy, we have to work to take it back.

Koch Brothers v. Health Reform

3:18 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

By Robert Greenwald and Jesse Lava

Do all roads lead to Koch?

Conservative activists will rally at the Supreme Court tomorrow to encourage the overturn of the Affordable Care Act. The “Hands Off My Health Care” protest—which will feature the likes of Rep. Michelle Bachmann and Sens. Jim DeMint and Rand Paul—is being organized by Americans for Prosperity, a right-wing group financed by industrialists Charles and David Koch. The billionaire brothers provided the seed money to get this organization off the ground and have donated at least $5 million overall (possibly a lot more) to its operations. David Koch still serves as the group’s chairman.

These facts belie the image that Americans for Prosperity would like to present as a humble grassroots organization. The stories we see today about regular Americans coming to D.C. to protest evil health reform are directly attributable to the corporate interests that the Koch brothers represent.

Yet the Kochs’ impact on the current court battle doesn’t end there. Group after group participating in the lawsuit to destroy the Affordable Care Act is a beneficiary of the Koch brothers’ largess—reflecting the outsized influence that these guys wield in our political debate. Indeed, one wonders whether this effort would be happening at all if not for these two billionaires with a direct interest in avoiding government regulation.

One of the most important groups in this case is the National Federation of Independent Business, which is bringing one of the lawsuits now before the Supreme Court. This group has received $88,000 from the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which is controlled by none other than Charles Koch.

Several organizations that have filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court have received substantial donations from the Koch family as well. These groups include:

In addition, a Court-appointed attorney used a study by the Rand Corporation to show the impact of the individual mandate in the health care bill—even though Rand has received $100,000 from none other than the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. Read the rest of this entry →

Would a Koch Takeover of Cato Make War with Iran More Likely?

5:49 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

Co-Authored by Jesse Lava

The drumbeat for war in Iran is getting louder, but opposition is coming from a seemingly unlikely source: the Cato Institute. This libertarian think tank generally sides with the Right, but it has long shown an independent streak, sometimes bucking conservative orthodoxy on civil liberties, the war on drugs, and U.S. militarism.

Will that change if Charles and David Koch succeed in their efforts to take over Cato?

The group is locked in a legal battle with the billionaire brothers, who have filed a lawsuit to appoint two-thirds of Cato’s board of directors. Today, Cato chairman Bob Levy has released a letter accusing the Kochs of trying to steer the group in a more partisan direction and compromise its independence. As detailed in Brave New Foundation’s upcoming film Koch Brothers Exposed, the Kochs are indeed notoriously partisan, funding Republican politicians in each election cycle and now allegedly promising to devote more than $200 million to defeating President Obama in 2012. Although they have long been financial backers of Cato–the group was originally named the Charles Koch Foundation–this move would put the organization entirely under their control.

That’s scary. For now, several thinkers at Cato are opposing the rush to war with Iran and refusing to shy away from criticizing Republicans. Senior fellow Doug Bandow writes, “The consequences of any war with Iran would be extraordinary. Probably far worse than resulted from the invasion of Iraq.” He assails Republican presidential candidates for their “reflexive war-mongering against Iran” because “every additional threat to attack Iran only more clearly demonstrates to Tehran the necessity of developing nuclear weapons.”

Malou Innocent, another foreign policy expert at Cato, says America should “ignore the hawks on Iran,” including those at the more reliably right-wing American Enterprise Institute. She is also calling for a quick end to the “waste of money, effort, and, most importantly, lives” resulting from the war in Afghanistan. Read the rest of this entry →

Are the Koch Brothers Funding Rush Limbaugh?

2:07 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

By Robert Greenwald and Jesse Lava

Just in time for the release of Brave New Foundation’s new film, Koch Brothers Exposed, Rush Limbaugh has thrown in with Charles and David Koch in their letter war with Obama campaign manager Jim Messina. No surprise there; Rush has made his fortune defending the rich and powerful against the 99%. But does Rush actually have a vested interest in the Koch brothers’ success?

The letter war started when Messina sent a fundraising letter saying the billionaire brothers bankroll “Tea Party extremism” and manipulate oil prices to buttress their energy business. The Kochs responded that Obama was treading on their “right to free speech.” (To them, I guess, being criticized by the president is tantamount to being arrested for sedition.) Team Obama shot back again, and here we are.

Rush has taken to the airwaves and lauded the Kochs. “This is how you do it,” he says. And on the surface, the reason for Rush’s apologetics is straightforward enough: he’s a man of the Right, and so are the Koch brothers. But below the surface of this defense lies a much more complex and insidious truth. The fact is that Rush needs the Kochs,and the Kochs need Rush.

Limbaugh is, fundamentally, a mouthpiece for conservative propaganda. He’s not a researcher. He’s not a grassroots organizer. He’s a mouthpiece. And where would he be without propaganda to spout? He has to get his ideas from somewhere. He can’t feed the right-wing echo chamber that’s hijacking our democracy if someone isn’t feeding him first. That’s where the Kochs come in.

The video we made with Sen. Bernie Sanders reveals the Kochs’ general method, whether Limbaugh is involved or not: fund an army of right-wing organizations so that politicians and pundits know exactly what to say:

Read the rest of this entry →

See Charles Koch Flip Flop on Social Security [VIDEO]

7:55 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

Charles and David Koch built an distortion machine to do their dirty work for them. Through think tanks, academic research, political donations and conservative media, the Koch brothers have steamrolled Americans into believing things that are false and into supporting policies that benefit the Koch brothers’ profits.

Social Security has long been among the brothers’ favorite punching bags, but new reporting by the Nation shows Charles Koch praising, advocating–practically begging an ultra-free market economist and mentor to participate and enjoy Social Security benefits.

That Charles Koch would promote and grow Social Security is at odds with his efforts and donations to politicians and think tanks to destroy Social Security, as our Koch Brothers Exposed campaign has proven.

Among the Koch ‘experts’ featured in the video is Jose Pinera. Read the rest of this entry →

Inside the Koch Brothers’ Expensive Echo Chamber

11:17 am in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

March 12, 2011

March 12, 2011 by Sue Peacock

Documents and interviews unearthed in recent months by Brave New Foundation researchers illustrate a $28.4 million Koch business that has manufactured 297 commentaries, 200 reports, 56 studies and six books distorting Social Security’s effectiveness and purpose.

Together, the publications reveal a vast cottage industry comprised of Koch brothers’ spokespeople, front groups, think tanks, academics and elected officials, which have built a self-sustaining echo chamber to transform fringe ideas into popular mainstream public policy arguments.

The Koch brothers’ echo chamber has successfully written the messaging for the AARP, a traditional defender of Social Security for all generations, which recently opened the door to cutting benefits.

The Koch echo chamber begins with think tanks like the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation and Mercatus Center at George Mason University and the Reason Foundation, which owe their founding and achievements to Koch backing. These think tanks take their $28.4 million in Koch funding and produce hundreds of position papers distorting the long-term health of Social Security.

The authors of these hundreds of self-described policy studies, newsletters, commentaries and books are then paraded through television, print and online news media. Their distorted message is amplified through shows like Hannity, with its 3.3 million viewers per episode, or CNBC’s Kudlow Report and its roughly 300,000 viewers per episode night after night after night.

Eventually, elected officials react to the Koch echo chamber and typically shift their position for reelection or the next campaign.

The investigation revealed Koch-supported policy fixes, and specific language repeated across each document, such as raising the retirement age or eliminating cost of living adjustments for Social Security dependents and beneficiaries.

These Koch ideas percolate through the echo chamber and into the mainstream. The frequency and repetition of the arguments supplant more popular policy recommendations like scrapping the Social Security tax cap, which would free individuals earning more than $106,800 annually to pay taxes on all of their wages, like everyone else.

“The Koch brothers job is to do everything they can to dismember government in general,” Sen. Bernie Sanders says in this video. “If you can destroy Social Security, you will have gone a long way forward in that effort.”

The Koch echo chamber has been so effective that AARP, a traditional advocate and defender of Social Security, has repositioned its policy to open the door to cut Social Security benefits for dependents and beneficiaries.

Counter the Koch billions and protect social security. Create an echo chamber of truth and share this video with your friends and family.

The echo chamber, coupled with AARP’s shift toward cutting Social Security, pushes the argument further toward the Koch brothers’ goals. Influential opinion-shapers in venerable news outlets will react and have already begun to referee disputes on new ‘middle ground’ that has, over time and through the actions of AARP and the Koch echo chamber, grown tolerant of the Koch brothers’ talking points.

“The Koch brothers fund organizations, and you have economists and political scientists working there and they are very, very good at getting on television,” Sanders said. “They are very effective in getting their positions out into the media.”

That’s further personified by the Koch brothers’ lobbying. Koch Industries spent $857,000 on lobbyists in 2004, one year before George W. Bush tried and failed to privatize Social Security. They also donated $104,660 to his campaign. The attacks on Social Security needed more time to stew in the echo chamber before they could be mainstream, and given the increase in lobbyists, they have risen dramatically. AARP’s shift is more proof of the Kochs’ achievements.

In the first two years of the Obama administration, the brothers have spent $20 million on lobbying, according to the Center for Public Integrity. And they’ve diversified their donations to a slew of Republican opinion leaders and strategic Democrats who oppose revenue increases like Sen. Ben Nelson and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And, with AARP’s action, the Koch echo chamber has broken ground on a new political terrain favorable to their ideological and financial goals.

Almost overnight, a historic and popular service, like Social Security, faces extinction. But behind this outcome, the Koch echo chamber has been churning for years.

With $42 Billion And 7 Homes, Why Are The Kochs Buying Our Democracy?

11:09 am in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

The Koch brothers had plenty of places to party after their triumphs last November. They might’ve celebrated at any one of their multiple homes in five states worth a total of $105.9 million.

And that’s not including the Koch’s two-story single family home that David Koch bought for his children as a play house.

The billionaire brothers who brought you Tea Party groups like Americans for Prosperity and anti-worker governors like Scott Walker and John Kasich are now attacking some of the most vulnerable Americans like Susan Montalbano and Wendy and Jerry McDowell.

Each one has a different story, but each is united against the Kochs and their drive to buy our democracy.

“They don’t want to see government money spent on people they feel are beneath being taken care of,” Jerry McDowell says in the video.

The New York Times heard Jerry’s comments and published an exclusive about Koch Brothers Exposed and what we’re trying to achieve.

We went on offense to make this video. We went right up to the Kochs’ doorsteps to ask, why are you spending millions to buy our democracy?

Watch what happens, then add your voice to our movement by posting a picture, caption or both to the Koch brothers house party.