Koch network plans to spend $400 million in 2018 to protect their riches

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BROTHER IN SMARMS Charles Koch (left) and David Koch (right) are two of the richest men in America and two of the biggest players in U.S. politics. Their network of affiliated dark money conservative groups plans to spend $400 million in this year’s midterm elections. – Flickr/DonkeyHotey image

Indian Wells, CA – The network of groups affiliated with billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch will spend more than $400 million on conservative causes and candidates in the 2018 midterm election cycle, Johnathan Easley, campaigns reporter for The Hill, reports.

Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said the investment would be the network’s largest election cycle investment ever — 60 percent greater than the 2016 presidential cycle — as Republicans seek to protect majorities in the House and Senate against stiff political headwinds.

The network notably stayed out of the 2016 presidential contest between President Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton but spent heavily on other Republican candidates and conservative causes.

Some of the $400 million for 2018 will be spent on electing GOP candidates. The network also plans to spend heavily promoting the Trump/GOP tax scam and other so-called achievements of the GOP-controlled government, such as the push to privatize Veterans Affairs and Trump’s conservative judicial picks.

The Kochs are planning a multimillion dollar campaign of television, radio and digital advertisements, door knocking, workshops, phone banking and events to promote the tax bill. Which begs the question, if the tax bill is actually such a great deal for average Americans, why do they need Super Bowl level advertising to promote it?

One reason could be they’re worried voters will see past the false promises of the tax bill. Another might be that the party in power historically suffers losses in a midterm election.

ENERGIZED LIBERAL BASE VS. ENORMOUS GOP FUNDRAISING

Generic ballot polling for the House shows Democrats with a double-digit lead and Trump’s historically low approval rating for a first-term president could be a drag on the party.

The GOP’s effort to hold on to the House has been complicated by a raft of retirements, and there are worries that an energized liberal base could send the GOP to substantial losses.

Still, fundraising has been a bright spot for the GOP, with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and outside groups aimed at electing Republicans raising enormous sums in 2017 to protect their majorities.

Hundreds of top conservative donors affiliated with the Koch network gathered last month at the exclusive Renaissance Indian Wells resort in the California desert to strategize ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

“Brian Hooks, co-chairman of the seminar, said the Koch network spent $20 million in support of the GOP’s tax-reform bill and plans to spend another $20 million advertise its benefits – the vast majority of which benefit families like the Kochs, Trump and other 1%ers.

“We’re hopeful,” Phillips said. “When you look at recent coverage of the public’s view of tax reform, it’s going up as they see pay raises.”

FAKE NEWS ON TAX BILL BENEFITS

After the passage of the GOP Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in December, multiple companies announced decisions to give out bonuses or raise wages for workers and claimed that these decisions were driven by the corporate tax cuts, but the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) says the raises and bonuses – most of which were already in the pipeline – have little to do with the tax cuts and everything to do with public relations.

“What these companies are doing amounts to nothing more than PR,” EPI budget analyst Hunter Blaire said. “Immediately handing out bonuses and raises is simply not how the economic theory that links corporate tax cuts to wage growth works.”

And EPI isn’t the only economic group calling “bull hockey” on the so-called benefits of the tax plan.

In the weeks since the new tax law was enacted, well over 100 companies have granted one-time bonuses to their employees while citing the new law’s reduction in the corporate income tax rate as part of the reason, Alan D. Viard of the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute (AEI) says.  “The president, key members of the House and Senate, and many other supporters of the new tax law have hailed the bonuses as proof that the corporate rate cut is boosting wages,” Viard said. “Unfortunately, their argument is misdirected and undermines the real economic case for corporate tax rate reduction.

“Even if the bonuses were prompted by the corporate rate cut, they are merely one-time steps taken by a limited number of companies for public relations purposes. Such steps look nothing like the long-lasting, economy-wide wage gains arising from the self-interested responses of companies to the investment incentives created by the tax rate reduction.”

MORE TO COME

Don’t expect the facts to get in the way of the Koch/GOP narrative.

The Koch seminar event attracted its biggest crowd ever, with 550 conservative activists from around the country, including 160 first-timers, attending.

“Charles Koch has challenged us and the other leaders in the network to step things up by an order of magnitude, that means tenfold,” Brian Hooks, co-chairman of the seminar, said. “That’s what we’re going to do.”

(Information from The Hill, the Economic Policy Institute and the American Enterprise Institute.)

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