Harry Reid delivered another salvo against the Koch brothers on the floor of the Senate today. On reading it, the reaction of any normal person would be that he has gone off his meds. That a Senate Majority Leader should indulge such crazed vituperation against a couple of private citizens, on the floor of the Senate, dramatizes how low our democracy has fallen.
I won’t reproduce the whole rant, but here are a couple of excerpts, followed by what I think is the main point:
In November 2010, the petroleum industry walked right through the door the Supreme Court had opened and spent hundreds of millions of dollars to elect a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. That majority has effectively shut down any hope of passing legislation to limit the pollution that has caused climate change.
This is sheer fantasy. Cap and trade died in the Senate–Harry Reid himself announced its demise–in the summer of 2010, prior to the elections that year, when it couldn’t get through the Democrat-controlled Senate. The election a few months later featured a spontaneous citizen uprising, triggered by Obamacare and the “stimulus” bill. Millions of citizens turned out at rallies and town halls to object to the Democrat-controlled Congress’s spendthrift ways. This had nothing to do with petroleum.
Senate Republicans, Madam President, are addicted to Koch.
Said Captain Ahab about the whale. Reid needs to go to an AA meeting and say, “My name is Harry and I am obsessed with the Koch brothers.”
Reid’s delivery today was even worse than usual. In fact, he sometimes was so incoherent as to cause one to wonder whether he had been drinking:
These are the same brothers who, according to the same report, used foreign subsidies — subsidiaries to sell millions of dollars of equipment to Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism. Let’s make sure we understand that Madam President. I may not have said it quite right. These are the same brothers who, according to the same report, use foreign subsidies — I said it wrong again. Foreign entities is the word, better than my trying to say the other word, which didn’t come out quite right. These same brothers, according to the same report, use foreign entities to sell millions of dollars of equipment to Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism. We all know that.
Actually, the transactions that a European Koch subsidiary had with Iran were perfectly legal, but Koch–unlike a number of Harry Reid’s contributors, like Goldman Sachs–has, as a matter of company policy, gone beyond the requirements of the law in boycotting Iran.
But now let’s get to the main point:
I believe in an America where economic opportunity is open to all. And based on their actions and policies they promote, the Koch brothers seem to believe in an America where the system is rigged to benefit the very wealthy.
This is really what it is all about, and Reid gets the point exactly wrong. It is Harry Reid and the Democrats who believe in a rigged system that benefits the wealthy. Reid himself is a bribe-taking, corrupt politician who has gotten rich on, supposedly, the modest income of a public employee. His sons likewise are on the lobbyist gravy train. Reid and the Democrats are all about cronyism–to take just one example, sliding hundreds of millions of dollars in “green” energy subsidies to billionaire Tom Steyer, who is reciprocating with a $100 million campaign on the Democrats’ behalf. It is the Democrats who have made Washington, DC, the last boom town in America. Washington is now, by far, America’s richest metropolis. Why is that? It is because that is where Harry Reid and his cronies operate. The provinces be damned.
The Koch brothers, on the other hand, stand for equal opportunity for all. The free enterprise system, which they endorse, is the great equalizer. No cronyism, no preferences, advancement based on merit, not political influence. That system is what made America great. Harry Reid wants to destroy it, the Koch brothers want to restore it. Charles and David Koch oppose subsidies of all sorts, including the ones that benefit their own companies. Every year, they write a letter to Congress to that effect. Maybe Harry Reid has misplaced his copies. For a brief statement of the Kochs’ philosophy of equal opportunity for all, go here.
Offensive as they may be, the Democrats’ over-the-top attacks on Charles and David Koch represent an opportunity for Republicans. In response, Republicans should say: you have correctly identified the issue. It is equal opportunity for all versus cronyism and favoritism for the well-connected. But you have reversed the roles of the parties. It is the Democrats who want to reward political connections, to strangle innovation with regulations, to protect established companies against upstart competitors, and to aggregate wealth and power in Washington to the detriment of the rest of the country. It is the Republicans who want to make America what it once was, before the Democrats’ cronyism strangled opportunity and growth: a beacon of freedom and prosperity for everyone, not just the politically connected.