The New York Times calls it $900 million. The Washington Post “nearly $1 billion.” CNN simply calls it “staggering.” Ben Ray, spokesperson for Democratic-aligned American Bridge put it best, telling USAToday: “What an obscene amount of money.”
The actual amount announced Monday at the Rancho Mirage Ritz Carlton is $889 million, and that is what the Koch brothers’ political network (17 Koch-funded organizations) plans to spend buying the 2016 elections for corporate America and the 1 percent.
It is, as CNN informs us, “[M]ore money than any private network has ever spent on an election cycle.” It is also as much as either the Republicans or Democrats spend: Compare this to the $675 million spent by the Republican Party in 2012. And the Kochs can spend the money however they want, unlike the RNC.
How much money is that? With a budget of $20 per person you could feed nearly 50 million people better meals than most of them have ever had for one day.
If you go by the approximately $3 the USDA reimburses schools for free student lunches, that $889 million would feed 296 million children. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service said 21 million kids received free or reduced-price lunches in 2013. You do the math.
Oxfam has already announced to the world that the “Richest 1 percent will own more than the rest by 2016.” Apparently, that isn’t enough for the Kochs. They’ve got to have their own country, too.
The massive financial goal was revealed to donors during an annual winter meeting here hosted by Freedom Partners, the tax-exempt business lobby that serves as the hub of the Koch-backed political operation, according to an attendee. The amount is more than double the $407 million that 17 allied groups in the network raised during the 2012 campaign.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) were all on hand at the Koch’s retreat for seminars and strategy sessions, greedily rubbing their fingers in anticipation. Not coincidentally, Newsmax tells us that,
Most of the 450 who attended the weekend event weren’t interested in another Mitt Romney run. They leaned more toward Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
What we can take from Charles Koch’s welcome speech Saturday, is that the Big Lie is alive and well in the Koch family: “Americans have taken an important step in slowing down the march toward collectivism,” he said. Of course, collectivism is not a threat and the Kochs are huge corporate welfare queens, more than happy to take our tax dollars from the federal government they excoriate.
Like his bought men, Walker, Rubio, Paul, and Cruz, Charles Koch is simply inventing threats out of whole cloth, and reassured guests and employees both,
But as many of you know, we don’t rest on our laurels. We are already back at work and hard at it! In fact, the work never really ends. Because the struggle for freedom never ends.
He claimed that,
Much of our efforts to date have been largely defensive to slow down a government that continues to swell and become more intrusive – causing our culture to deteriorate. Making this vision a reality will require more than a financial commitment. It requires making it a central part of their lives.
So the Kochs are presenting themselves as defenders of American culture now. This, from a man so far removed from American culture he cannot begin to imagine an average American’s life. Yet he claims to be defending our culture. This is the point of Koch’s speech at which the Greek gods would begin casting lightning bolts, for hubris was always mankind’s greatest sin.
Just keep in mind, that freedom he is talking about is serfdom for you and me.
The impact of this amount of money cannot be ignored. As Ben Ray of American Bridge put it, “If they are spending more than the RNC, I know exactly who the (Republican) presidential candidates will listen to.”
And even Grover Norquist told The Washington Post that, “It’s not like a Chicago political boss where Charles would say, ‘We’re all for this guy.’ But if he said, ‘I really like this guy’ and did an op-ed, it would matter.”
Which means Mother Jones is not engaging in mere hyperbole when they say, “It’s official: The Kochs and their rich friends are the new third party.”
Democrats, who have neither a plethora of corporations nor a bevy of 1 percenters to fund their campaigns, will have to work a lot harder to find that kind of cash. Of course, Democrat money will reflect the views of actual Americans rather than the insatiable appetites of the 1 percent.
According to the Post, “The $889 million goal reflects the budget goals of all the allied groups that the network funds. Those resources will go into field operations, new technology and policy work, among other projects.”
The one thing a billion dollars can’t buy are a viable platform or likeable candidates. It remains to be seen whether it is enough to convince blacks, Latinos, women and others that the Republican Party actually cares about them.
But make no mistake: this represents a full-scale assault on American democracy. Ted Cruz was quoted as saying Sunday night that, “There are a bunch of Democrats who have taken as their talking points that the Koch brothers are the nexus of all evil in the world.” He said that thinking is “grotesque and offensive.”
While you have to respect Cruz’s loyalty to his owners, he is wrong. What is grotesque and offensive is what he and his fellow employees of Koch Industries have been up to at the Rancho Mirage Ritz Carlton: plotting the murder of American democracy.