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10 Tough Truths From Harry Reid About The Kochs’ Lies, Propaganda and Radical Un-American Agenda

The Democratic Senate Majority Leader has had enough.
 
 
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US Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC, on March 5, 2014

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a former boxer, has taken off the gloves to fight back against the Republican Party’s richest patrons: the libertarian billionaire oil barons, David and Charles Koch. Speaking from the U.S. Senate floor and in press conferences, Reid has forcefully started to do what much of the Democratic Party hasn’t so far—hit back at multi-million dollar political campaigns filled with lies about Obamacare, propaganda that climate change is a myth, and efforts by lobbyists and elected Republicans to gut public health laws and other safety nets.

What follows are 10 excerpts from Reid’s speeches in the past two weeks that begin to rebut the Koch’s political falsehoods and expose their real agenda.         

1. Kochs’ Anti-Obamacare Ads Filled With Lies

“I’m confident that most of you, if not all of you have seen this little piece in the Detroit News [noting that a women featured in an anti-Obamacare TV ad will save $1,000 in out-of-pocket healthcare expenses in 2014], where the secretive Koch brothers are spending untold millions to rig the system to benefit the top one percent at the expense of the middle class. So this is further evidence of the shadowy campaign of distortion and deception. You know, I have no problem with the people appearing in these ads. Even though it’s interesting, it’s been proven that the—one of the ads they ran in Alaska was an actor and the same actor is appearing in the same ad basically around the country. People have a right to be actors and appear in ads if they are real people, but they don’t have the right to lie… that’s what they’ve been doing.” (Press Conference, 3/11/14) 

2. Koch Ads Filled With False GOP Fantasies

“Despite all that good news, there are plenty of horror stories being told. All of them are untrue, but they are being told all over America. The leukemia patient whose insurance policy was canceled and would die without her medication—Mr. [Senate] President, that is an ad being paid for by two billionaire brothers that is absolutely false; or the woman whose insurance policy went up $700 a month—ads paid for around America by the multibillionaire Koch brothers, and the ad is false. We heard about the evils of ObamaCare, about the lives it is ruining in the Republican stump speeches and in ads paid for by oil magnets, the Koch brothers. But those tales turned out to be just that—tales, stories made up from whole cloth, lies, distorted by the Republicans to grab headlines or make political advertisements.” (Floor Remarks, 2/26/14)

3. What Is Their Self-Described “Radical Agenda?” 

“Remember, “radical agenda” is what they called themselves. They said their agenda was radical, and it is. Eliminating Social Security, going against the minimum wage increase and being against it, just – these two brothers don’t like government. What they would do if they had their way is get rid of the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], and we know that; they tried to get formaldehyde not to be restricted. And we all know about formaldehyde or if we don’t, we should. It causes cancer. What they want is lower taxes for themselves, while the middle class is left on their own. And it means what is happening in our country, led by the Koch brothers: the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the poor middle class is being squeezed out of existence.” (Press Conference, 3/11/14) 

4. Kochs Make Billions From Dirty Industries

“These are the same brothers whose Koch Industries ranks near the top of the list of America’s worst toxic air polluters. Those are the same brothers whose company, according to a Bloomberg investigation, paid bribes and kickbacks to win contracts in Africa, India, and the Middle East. These are the same brothers who, according to the same report, used foreign subsidiaries to sell millions of dollars of equipment to Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism. Let’s make sure we understand that. I may not have said it quite right. These are the same brothers who, according to the same report, used foreign subsidiaries to sell millions of dollars of equipment to Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism. We all know that. (Floor Remarks, 3/4/14)

5. Kochs Don’t Respect Democracy or Government

“The Koch brothers already believe they can play by a different set of rules. Think about how an America rigged by the Koch brothers would look. The Koch brothers do not care about creating a strong public education system in America. The Koch brothers do not care about maintaining the strong safety net of Medicare and Social Security. The Koch brothers do not care about the guarantee of affordable, quality health insurance for every American… Their extreme vision for America means abolishing Social Security and Medicare. Their extreme vision for America means eliminating minimum wage laws. Their extreme vision for America means putting insurance companies back in charge of your health care and denying coverage for preexisting conditions. That is the way it used to be.” (Floor Remarks, 3/4/14)

6. Kochs: Class Warriors With Un-American Tactics

What is un-American is when shadowy billionaires pour unlimited money into our democracy to rig the system, to benefit themselves and the wealthiest 1 percent… 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. Based on Senate Republicans’ ardent defense of the Koch brothers and the fact that they advocate for many of the same policies as the Koch brothers, it seems my Republican colleagues also believe in a system that benefits billionaires at the expense of the middle class.” (Floor Remarks, 3/4/14)

7. Koch’s Political Business Model: Money Laundering 

“In 2010 the Supreme Court opened the floodgates of corporate money into electoral politics. That was with the Citizens United decision. Since mega donors such as Charles and David Koch can launder their huge contributions using shadowy shell groups and so-called nonprofits, it is difficult to tell exactly how much they have invested so far. 

“Investigative reporting done by some of the most respected news outlets in the country has revealed that the Koch brothers funnel money through a web of investor groups and advocacy organizations that are immune from disclosure rules, such as the Club for Growth, Heritage Action, the NRA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. We may never know how much money the Koch brothers are spending to rig the system, to rig the system for themselves.” (Floor Remarks, 3/4/14) 

“They hide behind all kinds of entities. It is not just their front organization, Americans For Prosperity. They give money to all kinds of organizations—lots of money. When you make billions of dollars a year, you can be, I guess, as immoral and dishonest as your money will allow. It is too bad they are trying to buy America, and it is time the American people spoke out against this terrible dishonesty and about these two brothers who are about as un-American as anyone I can imagine.” (Floor Remarks, 2/26/14)

8. Kochs Bought And Own The GOP

“Their investments have paid off already. 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 to the House of Representatives. That Republican majority has effectively shut down any hope of passing legislation to limit the pollution that has caused climate change. That Republican majority is, in fact, working to gut the most important safeguards to keep cancer-causing toxins and pollution that cause sickness and death out of the air we breathe and the water we drink… 

“The Koch brothers are already seeing a return on their 2010 investment in a Republican House of Representatives that does what they want done. But they certainly have not stopped there. The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity alone spent $400 million in misleading attack ads last election cycle… Koch-backed groups have spent a vast sum trying to elect Republican Senate candidates this year, a sum that dwarfs even the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s own spending.” (Floor Remarks, 3/4/14)

9. Kochs Falsely Claim This Is Free Speech

“Senate Republicans call this freewheeling spending by anonymous donors nothing more than “free speech.” Senate Republicans say that whoever has the most money gets the most free speech. But that is not what America’s Founding Fathers said. They did not mean that by free speech. The Founders believed in a democracy where every American had a voice and a vote.

“This discussion, this fight, is not just about health care or even about a few hundred million dollars in disingenuous ads. This is about two very wealthy brothers who intend to buy their own Congress, a Congress beholden to the money and bound to enact their radical philosophy. Witness this: Senators beholden to wealthy special interests; Republican senators rush to the floor to defend the Kochs whenever I say something negative about the brothers or their radical agenda.

“Their extreme vision for America means stripping tens of millions of people of the benefits in the Affordable Care Act today. Their extreme vision for America means allowing the gap between the wages women and men earn for the same work to keep growing. Their extreme vision for America means giving giant corporations the unfettered right to dump toxins in our rivers and streams, on our mountains and our valleys, and to give them even more tax breaks while they destroy our environment.” (Floor Remarks, 3/4/14)

10. Reid: I Will Keep Exposing The Kochs

“I am not oblivious that my comments about the Koch brothers have caused some controversy. Anyone who has turned on FOX News knows that I have gotten under their skin. But I will continue to shine a light on their subversion of democracy.

“When I hear my Republican colleagues defending the Koch brothers as they have, I recall the words of [Former Sen.] Adlai Stevenson: “I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends ..... that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.” As long as the Koch brothers continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars buying elections, I will continue to do all I can to expose their intentions.” (Floor Remarks, 3/4/14]

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America's retirement crisis, the low-wage economy, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of "Count My Vote: A Citizen's Guide to Voting" (AlterNet Books, 2008).

 
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