Billionaires David and Charles Koch have been financial leaders in opposing anything that resembles a progressive agenda for years. They have been looming in the background of every major domestic policy dispute this year, and may be the most effective opponents of President Obama's policies. For example, as health care reform protesters descended upon Washington last month, few were aware, as they were greeted with dough nuts and coffee, and handed protest signs and talking points about socialized medicine, that a right-wing billionaire had paid for the meals, buses, or salaries of the helpful guides...
Koch’s hidden presence in the health care debate illustrates the extent to which the right-wing is creating, and then hiding behind, a grassroots fervor of middle-class opponents of health reform.
The AFP, founded in 1984 by David and managed day to day by the astroturf lobbyist Tim Phillips, has spent much of the year mobilizing "tea party" opposition to health reform, clean energy legislation, and financial regulations. According to an article written by a compilation of authors for Think Progress, over the years, millions of dollars in Koch money has flowed to various right-wing think tanks, front groups, and publications. At the dawn of the Obama presidency, Koch groups quickly maneuvered to try to stop his first piece of signature legislation: the stimulus. The Koch-funded group "No Stimulus" launched television and radio ads deriding the recovery package as simply "pork" spending...
Much of the fierce opposition to health reform can be credited to Koch organizations. As the health care debate began, AFP created a front group, known as Patients United, that dedicated itself to attacking Democratic health care reform proposals. The Koch brothers clearly have a financial stake in blocking reform. Koch Industry oil refineries are major carbon dioxide polluters, and George-Pacific, a Koch Industries timber subsidiary, is one of the largest contributors to the loss of carbon-sink capacity.
According to the EPA, Koch Industries is responsible for over 300 oil spills in the U.S. and has leaked three million gallons of crude oil into fisheries and drinking waters. So there are clear economic interests in why the Koch brothers would want to block regulatory enforcement, clean energy, labor, and other reforms. But part of their opposition stems from a long family tradition of funding conservative movements to shift the country to the far right.
Yes, the conservative slogan is still the same, year after year:
"I've got mine, screw you."