Charles Koch, Visiting Dana Point, Badly (and Delightfully) Misjudges His Audience

Charles Koch disdains your corporate subsidies

Charles Koch comes to Dana Point and spits on your corporate subsidies.  Everyone freaks out, OJB included.

I’m taking these quotes from this TIME Magazine story on the Koch Bros. trip to OC this weekend, which I encourage you to read in full.  Charles Koch spoke (pronunciation note: those last two words rhyme) to a crowd of about 450 on, a bit incredibly, the question of whether businesses should lobby for tax breaks and government subsidies.  His stance: “cease and desist!”  You could hear Republicans gasping all over the country — but perhaps nowhere more than right here.

Here are the direct quotes that TIME serves up from the smaller-jawed Koch Brother:

“Business leaders (must) recognize that their behavior is suicide, that it is suicide long term. To survive, long-term, they have to start opposing, rather than promoting, corporate welfare.”

“Obviously, this prescription will not be an easy pill for many business people to swallow. Because short term, taking the principled path is going to cost some companies some profits, as it will for Koch Industries.  But long term, it will allow business people to continue to own and run their businesses, which none of us will be able to do, in my view, in the future otherwise.”

“[Big banks took] “virtually free money from the Fed” [in exchange for regulations.]  Now, the chickens are coming home to roost.  The Fed is taking control of these banks. The Fed now decides what businesses they can be in and how they run those businesses.

“[Avoiding government regulatory takeover] means stopping the subsidies, mandates and special privileges for business that enriches the haves at the expense of the have-nots.”

“In my view, we’re heading toward a two-tiered society, a society that is destroying opportunities for the disadvantaged and creating welfare for the rich.  Misguided policies are a creating a permanent underclass, crippling our economy and corrupting the business community—present company excepted, of course. But what this is doing, then, is turning more and more Americans against what they mistakenly believe is free enterprise.”

TIME ends the story with this warning:

The Koch-backed network plans to spend $889 million ahead of the 2016 elections, although officials are quick to point out that not all of that is explicitly political.  Some of it, advisers say, will be spent pushing against what Koch sees as unjustifiable corporate welfare.

In my mind’s ear, I can already hear Ryan and Cynthia and Zenger and probably Travis pumping their fists and cackling at this development.  OK, my friends (or in Zenger’s case, sometime allies of convenience), you win this round.  I did not see this one coming — and I’ll bet that neither did the gaggle of CEOs in attendance who one can imagine choking on their fresh Cecil-the-Lion liver-and-kidney paté.

To you, I’ll say only that I’ll be more impressed if I see the Kochs bringing the same level of energy, enthusiasm, and expenditure that they have brought to the drive to extirpate unionization and worker protection laws from the galaxy.  (Well, I’ll add that I think that the better reason to reject Creeping Pringleism is that it exacerbates those “permanent underclass” and “corrupting business” issues that they mention, not that it invites greater federal government control, which — depending on the wisdom and fairness of the policies — can be either a good or a bad thing.)

UPDATE INTERLUDE:  Anaheim Republican activists Victoria Michaels and Brian Chuchua drove to the St Regis on Saturday hoping to get into the Freedom Partners event. Michaels reports that they were stopped at the kiosk into the resort, not allowed in, and brusquely told to leave immediately after the gentlemen at the kiosk checked to see if Brian’s name was on the guest list. (Brian thought that he had been invited and did not RSVP.)  [Victoria] told them we had come to try and meet someone in order to tell them about the August 20 event on climate change and handed them a one page sheet of information.  They folded it in half and may have tossed it. [Paraphrasing: We thought that the Koch brothers might be interested, because the theme of this talk fit well with what CATER has been fighting about in Anaheim.]

Update over; now it’s time for me to talk to my fellow Democrats:

Charles Koch just drank our milkshake.  SLUUUURRRRRP!  (And yes, dammit, it should be OUR milkshake!)

I think that it’s safe to say that it most of the country, the Democratic Party is not thought of as the one favoring big tax breaks for and subsidies to corporations.  Here, though, a case can be made that the main opponents of the above are Republicans.  (Yes, there are some exceptions — but me, Dr. Moreno, Jeff LeTourneau and others have all been pushed away by the local party’s current leadership.)  I’d like to think that we could stand up as a party and say “HELL YES!” to most of Charles Koch’s critique above — even if we don’t agree with his rationale for it and even if we have grave doubts as to it being a sincere priority for him.  So — why don’t we do that?

Plenty of local active Democrats — the liberal and environmental wing of the local party — are currently sizzling with enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders’s Presidential campaign.  At the same time, they’ve continued to be supportive of local party leadership that props up advocates of subsidies, sweet deals, and tax breaks for corporations and rip-offs and sucker deals for the population.  What do you suppose that Sanders would support if he were politically active in Orange County: corporate subsidies, or protecting the people?

I’m putting together a resolution for the next DPOC meeting responding to Charles Koch’s challenge on our our territory.  I don’t expect that our Resolutions Committee will meet to consider it, let alone passing it, so it will probably be a 10/75 proposal coming up at the August 25 meeting itself.  This is a great chance to highlight the ideological fissures in the Republican Party — IF we can get past our own.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)