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OpEdge: The Koch Administration

Marc Jampole
January 30, 2017

by Marc Jampole

FUNNY HOW everything seems to always work out well for some people.

Take the Koch brothers, David and Charles, who kept a billion dollars in their and their associates’ pockets that they had planned to spend to sway the 2016 presidential election for just about any Republican candidate other than Donald Trump. Jane Mayer is reporting in her post-election update of Dark Money, her masterful expose of how the Kochs’ money has perverted American politics, that even though the Kochs sat on their hands in the 2016 election, they are now deeply embedded in the Trump Administration.

Mayer reports that the Trump administration is crawling with Koch operatives and lobbyists. Mike Pence was the Koch’s first choice for president in 2012 and has received significant financial support from the Kochs in the past. The Kochs set new CIA Director Mike Pompeo up in business and have provided him with financial support throughout his political career. Then there’s the cabinet, which skewers towards the kind of anti-regulation, pro-oil, climate deniers that the Koch Bro’s love to love. Did Trump say he would “drain the swamp” or “join the swamp?”

It’s no wonder that Koch’s political director says there is no “daylight” between his positions and those of Trumpty-Dumpty.

As Mayer points out in an interview with NYC-FM’s Brian Lehrer, Trump is poised to deliver what the Kochs want:

  • A weak global warming policy or none at all: The primary Koch business is selling oil and other fossil fuels.
  • A weakening of regulations that reduce industrial pollution: Koch Industries in the largest producer of toxic waste in the United States and among the leaders in air and water pollution.
  • Cutting taxes on the wealthy: The Kochs are multi-billionaires and own the second largest private company in the country.

AS THE GERMAN industrialists who backed Hitler discovered, when you lie in bed with a crazy person, you have to take the good with the bad. It’s hard to imagine that the Kochs -- who see that there is a coming labor shortage and therefore are in favor of lowering sentences and emptying prisons of non-violent offenders -- would favor a wall, even if they believed it would keep out illegal immigrants (which it won’t, of course). The trade war and much higher consumer prices that are sure to be the outcome of Trump’s proposal to raise tariffs will likely hurt Koch businesses more than it will help them. The banning of immigrants from seven predominately Muslim countries seems gerrymandered to help Trump, not the Kochs, since Trump conveniently forgot to include countries with which he has business dealings. Finally, you would think that as extreme libertarians, the Kochs would uphold the right of a woman to have control over her own body and are would therefore not be happy that Trump is reinstituting and strengthening the ban against U.S. funds supporting international organizations that even mention the word “abortion” (a move, by the way, that will lead to more abortions worldwide as fewer means of birth control exist for poor women in Africa and elsewhere).

But the Kochs reserve freedom and self-determination to themselves and their billionaire brethren. They really don’t care what happens to anyone else, as long as they can continue to pollute the earth and avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Like the Republican Party, the Kochs hold their nose and let a crazy person with ideas that will hurt most people hold power. The Kochs could be applying a lot of pressure on Congress to impeach and convict Trump. Perhaps they will, as soon as Trump has completed gutting environmental regulations and lowering taxes on the wealthy.

Marc Jampole is author of Music from Words (Bellday Books, for sale at our Pushcart). A former television reporter, he is a member of the Jewish Currents editorial board, blogs regularly (“OpEdge”) at our website, and writes frequently for our magazine.