2013: Year of the Left-Wing Billionaire

Obamacare is getting hammered, and deservedly so. But for the Democrats, it’s just another fundraising opportunity. They can’t run a health insurance program, but they are great at raking in cash. This communication from the Democratic Party arrived in my inbox yesterday:

From: DCCC Breaking News [mailto:dccc@dccc.org]
Sent: Thursday, November 21, 2013 3:46 PM
To: Hinderaker, John H.
Subject: New York Times:

New York Times: G.O.P. Maps Out Waves of Attacks Over Health Law

John —

This is serious.

What is serious? The failure of Obamacare? The fact that millions are losing their coverage, and many millions more are seeing price increases? The fact that millions of Americans are losing access to the doctors they know and like?

Just kidding.

The New York Times got ahold of internal Republican marching orders that reveal what we’ve known all along: they are in the midst of launching an aggressive plan to attack the Affordable Care Act. But the devil is in the details. We’re about to face a coordinated attack like we’ve never seen to scare voters about Obamacare.

Presumably it is not a surprise to even the lowest-information voters that Republicans are attacking Obamacare. But in the Democrats’ world, it is Republicans who are always “scaring” voters. Actually, this is much more a Democrat tactic; but at the moment, what is scaring voters is Obamacare.

President Obama is fighting back against the Republicans’ attacks on health care reform, but he simply can’t do it alone. And at this point, we can’t compete with that kind of sustained attack.

Really? Why not? You control the executive branch and the Senate. If there is something good to be said about Obamacare, it shouldn’t be hard to get the word out.

We don’t have the corporate cash that Republicans rely on to do their dirty work.

Dirty work? Note that so far, the Democrats haven’t cited a single thing Republicans have done other than tell the truth about Obamacare. This is true in 100% of the Democratic Party’s communications with its members.

We have grassroots supporters like you to help fill the $80,000 fundraising gap so we can respond to Republican attacks.

Can we count on you?

Another consistent feature of the Democrats’ appeals is that there is always a “fundraising gap.” Always. And then, by some miracle, when the parties finally report, the Democrats always have more money. It is their one field of expertise.

Now let’s go back to the Democrats’ lament that “we don’t have the corporate cash that Republicans rely on….” Compare that with Politico’s headline: 2013: Year of the liberal billionaire.

In the off-year campaigns of 2013, liberal and Democratic interests have enjoyed a decisive advantage in the billionaire spending bracket. Indeed, groups tied to just three billionaires — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, California investor Tom Steyer and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg — have spent well more than $25 million this year pushing progressive candidates and causes.

These liberal billionaires have been everywhere this year:

The current election in Virginia is a case in point: Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC is on track to spend $3 million by Election Day, targeting the Republican candidates for governor and attorney general on the issue of gun control. Steyer, a hedge fund executive, has spent millions through the group NextGen Climate Action on digital and turnout programs, as well as countless negative ads against GOP gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli.

Both Bloomberg and Steyer have been ubiquitous in other 2013 elections: Bloomberg spent some $2.2 million against a National Rifle Association-linked House candidate in Illinois earlier this year, and about a million dollars boosting now-Sen. Cory Booker in a New Jersey special election. He also cut a $350,000 check to a group defending two Colorado state legislators facing recall elections over their support for gun control.

Steyer, meanwhile, put more than $1 million of his own money into the Massachusetts Senate special election that resulted in victory for Democrat Ed Markey, attacking both the Republican nominee in the race and Markey’s primary opponent, Rep. Stephen Lynch, whom he viewed as insufficiently committed to fighting climate change.

All the while, the group FWD.us — which receives a majority of its funding from Zuckerberg — has put about $15 million into advocating for comprehensive immigration reform, according to a source tracking the group’s activities.

So there is plenty of rich people’s money on the left. No surprise there; it has always been true. But Politico, a Democratic Party outlet, credits the absurd theory that it is reprehensible for rich people to be conservatives, but praiseworthy for them to be liberals:

Lehane argued that there’s a categorical difference between big spenders like Bloomberg and Steyer, and the ultra-prolific donors on the GOP side in 2012: “The folks who are involved on the Democratic side are not necessarily folks who have a direct financial interest in the policies they are advocating for.”

This is a ridiculous claim, but one that Politico has no interest in exposing. There is no more self-interested donor than Tom Steyer. I wrote about him here, in a post titled “A Case Study In Liberal Hypocrisy.” Steyer is a hedge fund tycoon who specializes in green (i.e., inefficient) energy. So he is very different from an honest oil man, who just wants to compete. Steyer desperately needs government favoritism for his investments to pay off. What I wrote in March 2011 is still true:

As an investor who has placed a big bet on non-fossil energy, [Steyer] has an obvious personal interest in the government imposing regulations that make his competitors–producers of fossil fuel energy–more expensive. In fact, without such government action, the “green” projects in which he has invested are likely worthless.

But there’s more: Thomas Steyer is a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for American Progress, a “Democratic insider think tank started by former Clinton administration official John Podesta” that is often viewed as a mouthpiece for the Obama administration. The Center for American Progress owns the web site Think Progress, which has been the main source of attacks on Koch Industries. So, if you are looking for financial self-interest, let’s connect the dots: Thomas Steyer is desperately trying to influence the federal government to impose irrational costs on industries that produce energy from fossil fuels, so that his own hedge fund investments in inefficient (“green”) energy will be worth more money. The insane attacks that Think Progress, controlled by Steyer and his friends, have launched against Koch Industries are part of this business strategy.

Steyer knows which politicians will enrich him by imposing needless costs on fossil fuel-derived energy, and he contributes hundreds of thousands of dollars to them. This is on top of the undisclosed amounts that he contributes to his mouthpieces at Think Progress and other left-wing activists.

There is nothing illegal about this; businessmen are allowed to lobby, contribute to politicians, and support astroturf campaigns to protect their investments. But it is the height of hypocrisy for Steyer and his minions at Think Progress to attack companies like Koch Industries, who represent the interests of consumers, while disguising the fact that they are the ones who actually have skin in the game, and are trying to enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers and consumers.

That sums it up pretty well. The Democrats are always trying to have it both ways, raising money from their low-information rank and file by pleading poverty while raking in far more money from rich people, unions and other special interests than Republicans can hope to match.

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