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Posts tagged "Koch Bros"

Here are some of the 18 reasons why Walker should get the boot:

1. Repeal of Equal Pay for Women)

In April, Scott Walker signed SB 202, which effectively repealed an equal pay law that has protected women from pay discrimination since 2009. For three years, women had the ability to take legal action against their employer at any time it was discovered that they were being paid less than a male colleague for doing the same work. The repeal of this law is just a piece of the Republican war on women and gives employers the freedom to pay women less money, weakening women’s ability to have purchasing power in the economy.

2. Anti-Abortion Laws)

Speaking of the war on women, three days after repealing the equal pay law, Scott Walker signed three anti-abortion bills into law. One bill bans insurance policies offered through the state health insurance exchange program of the Affordable Care Act from including abortion coverage, which could also ban coverage of some contraceptives.

Another bill signed by Walker basically repeals a law requiring educators to teach about contraception as a birth control method. The new law allows teachers to not discuss contraception at all and forces teachers to promote abstinence as the ONLY way to prevent disease and pregnancy.

The third bill forces women to be alone in the doctor’s office when seeking an abortion so that the doctor can interrogate her about why she wants an abortion. Scott Walker is certainly not an ally of women’s health.

3. Relationship with Koch Brothers)

It was a prank phone call that revealed a lot about Scott Walker and his allegiance to Koch Industries. When a David Koch impersonator called to congratulate Scott Walker on his 2010 Election victory, he was immediately connected directly to the new Governor with little to no investigation. The caller of course was revealed to be a fake, but just the fact that Walker rushed to talk to the billionaire right-winger showed who was important to him. Since that day two years ago, Walker has worked hard to turn Wisconsin into the national testing ground of the Koch agenda. Working closely with Koch funded group Americans for Prosperity, Walker has gutted Wisconsin’s labor unions, killing collective bargaining, and supporting bills that kill environmental legislation. The Kochs have poured millions of dollars into Wisconsin to keep Walker from being recalled. All of this should be worrying to any voter in Wisconsin, because if any politician in America is a puppet of the Koch brothers, it’s Scott Walker.

4. Wisconsin’s Terrible Jobs Record)

Dead last. That defines Walker’s record on jobs. In his second year as Governor, Wisconsin lost over 20,000 jobs. That’s way worse than the second worst jobs record in the nation: Rhode Island with only 4,000 jobs lost. And no one can really say there is any bias in those numbers either because Wisconsin’s neighboring states of Iowa and Michigan, both Republican controlled, have job gains. That’s embarrassing for Walker, considering he touted his policies as being a blueprint for job creation.

5. Union Busting)

Walker’s tenure as Governor will forever be marked by his decision to mercilessly attack labor unions and collective bargaining. Following the commands of his Koch donors, Walker signed a bill in March 2011 that ended most union rights in the state of Wisconsin, including the right to collectively bargain for pay and benefits. Walker said the law would grow popular over time, but what it actually did is get him recalled, which is why an election is taking place in June. Under the law, police, firefighters, teachers, nurses, and many other public employees will no longer get to negotiate their pay. Ending collective bargaining changed nothing in the budget but Walker gleefully threw these workers under the bus to please the Kochs. But he also did it to purposefully divide the people of Wisconsin. In a damning caught on tape moment, Walker described to big campaign donor Diane Hendricks how he was going to turn Wisconsin into a ‘right to work for less’ state. His plan? Divide and conquer.

“Well, we’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.”

This quote alone should infuriate the people of Wisconsin enough to want to end Walker’s career.

6. Killed High Speed Rail Funding)

Upon winning election in 2010, Scott Walker vowed to kill high speed rail funding. And he did exactly that. Walker gave back over $800 million in federal assistance to build a high-speed train between Milwaukee and Madison, which cost the people of Wisconsin thousands of jobs. The high speed rail would not only have created thousands of jobs, it would have created a greener mass transit system that would have helped alleviate America’s dependence on oil, and would have helped America catch up to the rest of the developed world. Europe and Asia have invested heavily in high speed rail, which makes transportation much faster and cheaper across land. The people had a chance to help get America moving again, but Scott Walker took away the money and the jobs that would have made it possible.

10. Over Half Of Campaign Cash Is From Out-Of-State Sources)

Money in politics has become a real problem and nowhere is this more evident than in Wisconsin, where Scott Walker has taken in millions of dollars from the Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity among other outside sources. Because of this out-of-state money and a law that gives a recalled governor the ability to take in unlimited amounts of cash to defeat their opponent and limits the money raising ability of the opponent, Walker has been able to raise and spend $21 million to the Democrat’s $2 million as of May 2012. Two-thirds of Walker’s campaign cash has come from donors outside of Wisconsin.

Because of this outside money, the people of Wisconsin can’t really be certain that their governor is beholden to them or the outside entities who are basically buying the election for Walker. That should any citizen in Wisconsin, since it is clear that outside forces want Wisconsin under their thumb.

13. Gutted Public Education Funding To Pay For Tax Breaks For Corporations)

How are people in Wisconsin supposed to compete for jobs if they can’t get a top notch education? That’s a question Scott Walker failed to ask when he slashed aid to public schools by almost $800 million to fund his tax cuts for the rich and corporations. It was by far the largest reduction in Wisconsin history and the second biggest cut to education in the country. Walker says he wants to bring jobs into the state by enticing businesses with tax relief, but what kind of business would want to hire people who don’t have a decent education? And that’s exactly the point. To compete in today’s global economy, education is the key to getting a job. But that kind of logic is apparently lost on Walker who has been waging war on teachers and students since taking office. Teachers have been laid off, students are being forced to learn in bigger classes sizes, and money is so tight that many programs such as art and music have had to be scrapped to save cash. That significantly harms the overall education of our kids. Education cuts do not create jobs, cuts only take away the tools that help create jobs.

Scott Walker should be thrown out of office by the people of Wisconsin. Based on Walker’s record, it would be foolish for Wisconsinites not to do so, especially when they are already so close to getting their state back. The result of this recall election will be felt for many years to come. Wisconsin can either be the state that fires the first shot against the dangerous Republican agenda that is sweeping the country like a plague, or they can keep Walker in office and encourage Republicans to keep destroying America without consequence.

h/t: Stephen D. Foster, Jr.

If the Koch brothers didn’t exist, the left would have to invent them. They’re the plutocrats from central casting – oil-and-gas billionaires ready to buy any congressman, fund any lie, fight any law, bust any union, despoil any landscape, or shirk any (tax) burden to push their free-market religion and pump up their profits.  
But no need to invent – Charles and David Koch are the real deal. Over the past 30-some years, they’ve poured more than 100 million dollars into a sprawling network of foundations, think tanks, front groups, advocacy organizations, lobbyists and GOP lawmakers, all to the glory of their hard-core libertarian agenda. They don’t oppose big government so much as government – taxes, environmental protections, safety-net programs, public education: the whole bit. (By all accounts, the Kochs are true believers; they really buy that road-to-serfdom stuff about the the holiness of free markets. Still, you can’t help but notice how neatly their philosophy lines up with their business interests.) They like to think of elected politicians as merely “actors playing out a script,” and themselves as supplying "the themes and words for the scripts. Imagine Karl Rove’s strategic cunning, crossed with Ron Paul’s screw-the-poor ideology, and hooked up to Warren Buffett’s checking account, and you’re halfway there.
For years, the brothers shunned the spotlight. David Koch used to joke that the family business, the Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries – with annual profits estimated at $100 billion, it’s the second-biggest private firm in America – was “the largest company you’ve never heard of.” But when Barack Obama became president, the Kochs, like a lot of right-wingers, flipped out. They threw their weight behind a stealth campaign to turn back the president’s “socialist” agenda: They were early backers, some say puppet masters, of the Tea Party movement, and when the tea-infused GOP retook the House in the famous midterm “shellacking” of 2010, it was with a big assist from Koch money. (They later blessed the brief, ill-fated presidential run of Tea Party-favorite Herman Cain. That’s how crazy – or cynical – these guys are.) Progressive activists and the news media started paying attention – most notably ThinkProgress and Jane Mayer of The New Yorker – and pretty soon the Kochs had become the poster boys of “the 1 percent” and a surefire fundraising tool for the Democratic Party; at the mere mention of the Koch name, liberal wallets fall open.
Now the Kochs are the subject of a blistering (but to all appearances factual) documentary by the activist filmmaker Robert Greenwald. Koch Brothers Exposed aims to show how the brothers’ machinations affect the lives of “living, breathing human beings,” as Greenwald put it to me at the film’s New York premiere in late March. “When I learned about the damage the Kochs were doing to our democracy, I wanted to make sure more Americans understood what they’re up to.”

On the evidence of Koch Brothers Exposed, the more relevant question is: What aren’t they up to? The film – scrappy and low-budget, but effective all the same – weaves together a string of shorter videos produced over the past year by Greenwald’s nonprofit Brave New Films, each looking at a separate tentacle of the "Kochtopus," as lefty wags have dubbed the Kochs’ network. It recounts how the brothers have:

 • helped fund efforts to undo a model diversity policy in the Wake County school system in North Carolina, effectively resegregating the district – part of a larger campaign, the film alleges, to weaken the public school system and prepare the way for widespread privatization;
• pushed voter ID laws – purportedly aimed at combating ballot fraud but really designed to keep Democrats from voting – through their financial support for the American Legislative Exchange Council, an increasingly radioactive business group specializing in the drafting of corporate-friendly pick-up-and-pass legislation for state lawmakers. (ALEC is also behind the insane “Stand Your Ground” gun laws at issue in the Trayvon Martin shooting case);
• pumped millions of dollars into more than 150 colleges and university in exchange for control over hiring and curriculum decisions, to ensure students will be exposed to the free-market fundamentalism of Ayn Rand, Freidrich von Hayek and like minds;
• bankrolled a coordinated campaign to swing public opinion in favor of privatizing Social Security, deploying Koch-funded think tanks, experts, and pundits to spread the myth that the program is on the brink of bankruptcy.

Julian Brookes at Rolling Stone

The Obama campaign is acting as if it is already in a general-election fight, against a Big Oil-Mitt Romney ticket. In a new ad, President Barack Obama attacks “big oil” and Mitt Romney, pushing back against oil-industry campaign ads that accuse Obama of raising gas prices. The front group American Energy Alliance, secretly funded by Koch Industries and other oil giants, is running a $3.6 million ad campaign that criticizes Obama policies that don’t favor the oil-industry agenda. Oil companies have been profiting from American suffering at the gas pump, but they believe they would do even better under a Romney presidency, the new Obama ad argues:

Under President Obama, domestic oil production’s at an eight-year high. So why is Big Oil attacking him? Because he’s fighting to end their tax breaks. He’s raising mileage standards, and doubling renewable energy. In all these fights,Mitt Romney stood with Big Oil, for their tax breaks, attacking higher mileage standards and renewables. So when you see this ad, remember who paid for it and what they want.

h/t: Brad Johnson at Think Progress Green

Charles and David Koch are each worth about $25bn, which makes them the fourth richest Americans. When you combine their fortunes, they are the third wealthiest people in the world. Radical libertarians who use their money to oppose government and virtually all regulation as interference with the free market, the Kochs are in a class of their own as players on the American political stage. Their web of influence in the US stretches from state capitals to the halls of congress in Washington DC.

The Koch brothers fueled the conservative Tea Party movement that vigorously opposes Barack Obama, the US president. They fund efforts to derail action on global warming, and support politicians who object to raising taxes on corporations or the wealthy to help fix America’s fiscal problems. According to New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, who wrote a groundbreaking exposé of the Kochs in 2010, they have built a top to bottom operation to shape public policy that has been “incredibly effective. They are so rich that their pockets are almost bottomless, and they can keep pouring money into this whole process”.

Koch industries, the second largest privately-held company in the US, is an oil refining, chemical, paper products and financial services company with revenues of a $100bn a year. Virtually every American household has some Koch product - from paper towels and lumber, to Stainmaster carpet and Lycra in sports clothes, to gasoline for cars. The Koch’s political philosophy of rolling back environmental and financial regulations is also beneficial to their business interests.

The Kochs rarely talk to the press, and conduct their affairs behind closed doors. But at a secret meeting of conservative activists and funders the Kochs held in Vail, Colorado this past summer, someone made undercover recordings. One caught Charles Koch urging participants to dig deep into their pockets to defeat Obama. “This is the mother of all wars we’ve got in the next 18 months,” he says, “for the life or death of this country.” He called out the names of 31 people at the Vail meeting who each contributed more than $1m over the past 12 months.

Americans for Prosperity has already spent $6m on campaign ads attacking Obama for his support of renewable energy projects. Davies of Greenpeace says the Kochs influence on the campaign debate is clear. Republicans like Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich who favored climate change legislation in the past now oppose it. President Obama, he says, is “even bragging about drilling more oil than Bush at this point.”

Americans for Prosperity is also laying the groundwork for reigniting the Tea Party to defeat Obama. In March, Americans for Prosperity and Tea Party groups are staging protests at the US Supreme Court while it considers the constitutionality of the health care law the Obama administration pushed through in 2010. The health care debate fueled the rise of the Tea Party in the first year of the Obama presidency.

Meanwhile, the Kochs are rounding up hundreds of millions of dollars for the 2012 elections. In January, they held another of their secret meetings with wealthy conservatives at a lush resort in Palm Springs, California. New attendees included the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who with his family has given $16.5m to the Super PAC backing Newt Gingrich, and Foster Friess, a wealthy financier supporting Rick Santorum in the Republican primaries.

Obama is doing his best to raise a billion dollars for the presidential race, and break all fundraising records. But Lee Fang, an investigator with the Republic Report, told reporter Bob Abeshouse that the “Kochs will have a tremendous impact. On a larger scale this election will come down to a few billionaires: a couple on the left supporting the Democrats, and a lot on the right supporting the Republicans. I think in 2013 people will look back on this election as the greatest one bought and sold.”

Since People & Power’s report on the Kochs aired last fall, supporters of the Tea Party movement have complicated the Republican presidential primaries. Tea Party supporters have shifted from candidate to candidate and failed to coalesce around Mitt Romney. Given the divisions, the Kochs have not come out publically for any candidate. They are setting their sights instead on defeating Barack Obama and expanding their influence in the US House and Senate.

h/t:  Bob Abeshouse at Al Jazeera English

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin — Attacking Planned Parenthood was so 2011. This year, conservatives may have a new target: the American Cancer Society.

Fliers calling on “patriots” to “boycott the American Cancer Society” were in abundance at the Americans For Prosperity’s Defending the American Dream Summit in Milwaukee last weekend. It also urged churches and Christian schools to stop participating in the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life fundraiser for cancer research.

According to the flier, people should boycott the American Cancer Society because the group supports “the Marxist Obamacare plan” and is insufficiently “pro-life.” The American Cancer Society spends approximately $130 million each year to fund cancer research, helping save countless lives in the process.

More deranged conservative boycotts of companies that do good things.

h/t: Scott Keyes at Think Progress Health

Why are gas prices surging to levels unseen since the 2008 oil spike while the oil companies reporting record profits? Much of the problem is actually created by Wall Street traders here in the USA who gamble on oil prices and powerful multinational companies that manipulate the supply and demand by stockpiling oil when the price is low and expected to rise in the near future. And yes, so far this practice is perfectly legal.

Bart Chilton, a commissioner at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC),  the federal agency that regulates commodity futures and option trading in the United States, says a very few number of players control too much of the market, allowing them to push the price of gas higher and higher. The American public knows very little about the oil speculation industry because a conservative majority on the CFTC has refused to implement the mandates from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to curb abuses and provide transparency.

When future oil prices are expected to rise–which means when demand is expected to exceed supply–big banks and companies like Koch start buying up oil and storing it in massive containers both on land and offshore to lock in the oil for sale later at a set price.

och was one of the companies that lobbied aggressively against President’s financial reform bill-–mentioned above–particularly on provisions related to transparency in the energy trading market. Representatives from the company’s lobbying firm even argued that moderate levels of the toxic chemical dioxin should not be designated as a cancer risk for humans at an EPA hearing last summer.

When we look at the money Koch has spent on lobbying to influence laws and regulations in Washington in recent years–from $857,000 in 2004 to $20 million in 2008–it is not surprising that Koch’s lobbyists and officials have successfully fought to preserve the industry’s tax breaks and credits, and defeated all attempts by Congress to regulate environmental hazards and transparency requirements.

h/t: Emine Dilek at

If you thought Republicans only resort to extortion and hostage taking on the national level, you would be quite mistaken. They’re perfectly content to threaten and bully on the state level to get their way as well. Case in point: Maine Governor Paul LePage has threatened to close down schools statewide unless he is allowed to throw 65,000 people off of MaineCare, Maine’s version of MedicAid.

“Right now, in order to continue the way we are, I will close schools May 1 and use that money, because that’s where we are,” LePage said in an appearance in Lewiston on Thursday evening. “It’s a matter of not having money. It’s not a matter of policy. It’s a matter of when you have one hundred dollars in your checkbook and you’re spending two hundred, you’ve got a problem.”

Give me what I want or the kids get it! Some choice. Leave the poor with no health care or deprive Maine’s children of a proper education. Funny how that choice only seems to affect the non-rich.

I wonder if it occurred to LePage, even for a moment, to raise taxes or curtail corporate tax breaks? I’ll just bet it didn’t.

The state’s Democratic Party seems somewhat confused by this ultimatum as the Governor does not actually possess the legal authority to carry out his threat.

The Maine Constitution is very clear that the authority to fund public education lies with the Legislature, said Rep. Margaret Rotundo of Lewiston, the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee.

“My understanding is that the Legislature would have to pass legislation not to fund the schools, and that’s not going to happen. It’s just not going to happen. So people don’t have to worry about the schools closing,” Rotundo said Friday.

But that won’t stop LePage from trying or finding something else to hold hostage. Maybe he’ll decide unemployment insurance should be cut instead. Or perhaps public employee pensions. Republicans are all about shred sacrifice as long as it’s the Middle Class and working poor that do it.

H/T: Justin Rosario at

Levi Russell, Americans for Prosperity Director of Public Affairs, contributed to a blog post calling me a “liar.” Russell, however, erroneously quoted the conversation and has refused to issue a correction.

Yesterday, Americans for Prosperity, the corporate front group founded and financed by the Koch Brothers, posted a blog post titled: “Lee Fang Lies.” The post, which was Tweeted and promoted by other conservative groups, accuses me of misrepresenting myself at the Americans for Prosperity Defending the Dream Summit last Friday. The allegations are all demonstrably false. I called AFP on the phone today to explain that their post was false and gave them an opportunity to retract it. The Americans for Prosperity’s Levi Russell, the press person involved in the smear, responded: “No, I’m not going to correct it.”

The Americans for Prosperity blog post claims that, in order to receive a press credential, I said that I was a student from California (view a copy of the post here):

Lee Fang, a blogger with “Think Progress,” lied to event organizers about his residency and status in an attempt to gain media access to the Defending the American Dream Summit, held this past weekend at the Washington Convention Center. Fang told Americans for Prosperity Foundation that he is a student “visiting from California,” who “had to fly home tomorrow” and had really hoped to cover the event.

However, Fang is listed as a “resident of Prince George’s County, Maryland” on his ThinkProgress author page. His wikipedia page says that he “attended college at the University of Maryland, College Park.” […] Fang regularly impugns conservative authors as dishonest, yet characteristic of his reporting, his preferred tactic is dishonesty and lies.

I did say that I live in California, and that I was hoping to attend the conference before going home the next day. That is because I live in California and was traveling home that Saturday. Despite Americans for Prosperity’s best research efforts, I moved away from my native Prince George’s County several years ago, and relocated finally to northern California about seven months ago. The biography page cited by Americans for Prosperity is obviously out of date. Moreover, Americans for Prosperity never reached out for a clarification and, if they had looked past Wikipedia, I broadcast the fact that I now live in California on a regular basis when I appear on television and radio.

Herman Cain may be the billionaire Koch brothers’ favorite presidential candidate, with strong ties between his campaign and the wealthy conservative patrons, and Cain hasn’t been shy about about showing his love for the pair. Today, at a conference sponsored by the Koch-backed group Americans for Prosperity, Cain declared to thunderous applause, “I am the Koch brothers’ brother from another mother.” He added, “And proud of it.”

Dear Herman Cain, you are just a stupid hack.