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Who are the Koch brothers and what do they want?

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The following editorial came to me as a supporter of Bernie Sanders.  Although the news probably broke too late for Senator Sanders to include it in this editorial, today the Koch Brothers' fortune soared past $100 Billion

Charles and David Koch hit a milestone on Wednesday, as a $1.3 billion boost to their collective fortune sent their net worth above $100 billion, according to Bloomberg News.

The brothers are majority stakeholders in Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held company in the U.S., after Cargill Inc. They are now the fifth- and sixth-wealthiest people in the world.

As Sanders' colleague in the House, Alan Grayson, delineates, the Koch Brothers have political tentacles in nearly every possible political contest and agenda.  See:

The Public vs. the Kochtopus


-- Scott Baker, Senior Editor, Opednews

As a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, billionaires and large corporations can now spend an unlimited amount of money to influence the political process. The results of that decision are clear.  In the coming months and years the Koch brothers and other extraordinarily wealthy families will spend billions of dollars to elect right-wing candidates to the Senate, the House, governors' mansions and the presidency of the United States.  These billionaires already own much of our economy. That, apparently, is not enough.  Now, they want to own the United States government as well.

Four years ago, the Supreme Court passed Citizens United.  A few weeks ago, they passed the equally horrendous McCutcheon campaign finance decision which gives even more political power to the rich. Now, many Republicans want to push this Supreme Court to go even further.  In the name of "free speech," they want the Court to eliminate all restrictions on campaign spending -- a position that Justice Thomas supported in McCutcheon -- and a view supported by the Chairman of the Republican National Committee.  Not surprisingly, as it will give them the opportunity to buy politicians at will, this has always been the position of the Koch brothers.

The Koch brothers are the second wealthiest family in America, making most of their money in the fossil fuel industry.  According to Forbes Magazine, they saw their wealth increase last year from $68 billion to $80 billion.  In other words, under the "anti-business", "socialist" and "oppressive" Obama administration, their wealth went up by $12 billion in one year.
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In their 2012 campaigns, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each spent a little more than $1 billion.  For the Koch brothers, spending more than Obama and Romney combined  in an election would be a drop in the bucket.  They would hardly miss the few billion spent.

Given the reality that the Koch brothers are now the most important and powerful players in American politics, it is important to know what they want and what their agenda is.

Interestingly and not widely known, David Koch ran as the Libertarian Party's vice-presidential candidate in 1980.  He believed that Ronald Reagan was much too liberal.  Despite Mr. Koch putting a substantial sum of money into the campaign, his ticket only received one percent of the vote.  Most Americans thought the Libertarian Party's platform of 1980 was extremist and way out of touch with what the American people wanted and needed.

Fast-forward 34 years and the most significant reality of modern politics is how successful David Koch and like-minded billionaires have been in moving the Republican Party to the extreme right.  Amazingly, much of what was considered "extremist" and "kooky" in 1980 has become part of today's mainstream Republican thinking.    

Let me give you just a few examples:
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In 1980, Libertarian vice-presidential candidate David Koch ran on a platform that called for abolishing the minimum wage.  34 years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of one percent of the American people.

Today, not only does virtually every Republican in Congress oppose raising the $7.25 an hour minimum wage, many of them, including Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell and John McCain, are on record for abolishing the concept of the federal minimum wage.

In 1980, the platform of David Koch's Libertarian Party favored "the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs."  34 years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of one percent of the American people.

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Bernie Sanders is the independent U.S. Senator from Vermont. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. He is a member of the Senate's Budget, Veterans, Environment, Energy, and H.E.L.P. (Health, Education, (more...)
 

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