2016, 2018, Donald Trump — January 28, 2018 at 11:13 am

The Kochs are spending $400 million this year to buy themselves another election


The media needs to focus on the bonuses the radical robber barons are giving their workforce — the Republican Party

A new report from Americans for Tax Fairness finds that it turns out a tax cut that gives 83 percent of its total benefits to the richest 1 percent with three-quarters of its individual tax cuts going to those earning over $200,000 will help our pals the Koch brothers.

International Business Times reports:

A new analysis has found that political mega-donors Charles and David Koch and/or the business they operate could make between $1 billion and $1.4 billion more money each year, thanks to the tax breaks in legislation passed in December by Republican members of Congress. The two brothers are currently worth a combined $104.4 billion.

In related news, CNBC reports:

The network of advocacy groups tied to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch pledged to spend close to $400 million on campaign contributions and policy initiatives in the lead-up to the vote in November, a 60 percent jump in spending from the 2016 election cycle, officials said. One of the hallmarks of that effort is a fresh influx of support for the Republican tax plan, with up to $20 million devoted to selling its benefits to voters this year.

Of all the “effects” of the giant tax cuts for those who need them the least, this is the one we need to pay the most attention to because, as Twitter must-follow @JesseCharlesLee notes:

Since the 2016 election, I’ve been haunted by how a doof like Ron Johnson, who has recently been possessed by former Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy, beat a genuine American statesman like Russ Feingold, again, after the national GOP had written Johnson off, by a much larger margin than Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the same state.

And Feingold actually visited Wisconsin — a lot. Like daily.

Some of Johnson’s advantage can be accounted to incumbency bias but the efforts of the GOP’s radical robber barons have made since 2011 to turn Wisconsin into their petri dish for plutocracy (combined with the conservative Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act and any semblance of a fair campaign finance system) likely pushed him over the line. And he may have pulled Trump with him.

In Rolling Stone, Ari Berman lays out many of the efforts that have increasingly turned a key swing state like Wisconsin red, namely the explosion voter suppression and dark money. Some of the worst gerrymandering in the nation plays a key role Wisconsin’s House and state legislature races, too, and perhaps helped depress Democratic voters who have gotten used to their votes being almost meaningless.

For months, I’ve been mulling over something Ari noted during one of his many visits to The Sit and Spin Room. From the Wisconsin State Journal on November 1, 2016:

Republican mega-donor Diane Hendricks, an Afton billionaire, is bankrolling a push to provide cover on Wisconsin airwaves to Trump and Johnson. Hendricks has given more than $5.4 million to a super PAC, Reform America Fund, airing ads in Wisconsin that oppose Feingold and Clinton, recently released Federal Election Commission reports show.

This helped feed my pet theory that it was the Koch-backed effort to save the Senate that help drag Trump over the finish line in states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida.

It’s a theory now backed up by someone with a PhD. But it wasn’t just Diane Hendricks who saved Johnson.

Political scientist Thomas Ferguson rejects the notion that the Comey letter alone swung the election. Instead, he connects the demise of the Clinton campaign to an effort by Mitch McConnell to prevent “Armageddon” by convincing large donors to help save the GOP Senate:

What happened in the final weeks of the campaign was extraordinary. Firstly, a giant wave of dark money poured into Trump’s own campaign – one that towered over anything in 2016 or even Mitt Romney’s munificently financed 2012 effort – to say nothing of any Russian Facebook experiments. The gushing torrent, along with all the other funds from identifiable donors that flowed in in the campaign’s final stages should refocus debates about that period. (See Figure 1, below.) Maybe all that happened is that money talked, not least in the famous last ad invoking Soros, Blankfein, and Yellin apparently focused on the battleground states.

Bolstering suspicions that a wave of last minute money might actually be the most basic explanation for the Clinton collapse is a fact that virtually no analysts have reflected upon: Her late October fall in the polls was not unique. Democratic chances of taking the Senate unraveled virtually in lock step.

Figure 1:

Yes, I am trying to freak you out.

So is Ari who warns that a “a beleaguered Republican Party tainted by Trump could still retain majorities in 2018 and 2020,” desperate vast unpopularity, criminality and graft. Republicans just need to follow the Wisconsin model. Or, as we now see, the 2016 model.

[Image by Gage Skidmore | Flickr]