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Secret Quarter-Billion-Dollar Koch Brothers Political Operation Revealed

The top 1 percent has an investment in destroying middle-class America.

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“Short said his members are ‘concerned that the nation that they had grown up in and that their businesses have flourished in will not be there for their children and grandchildren’ and are ‘committed to trying to restore what they view are free markets in a free society in America,’” Politico reported. “Many, he said, are ‘Horatio Alger-type stories,’ and most of them not household names, who got rich after starting small businesses, from service to manufacturing to information technology.”

America loves underdogs, but contrary to Short’s spin, his members are capitalist overlords who are firmly entrenched in the top 1 percent of Americans who are only getting richer. As reported this week, the top 1 percent in America earned more money in 2012—one-fifth of America’s household income—than any year since 1928. In other words, Freedom Partners’ agenda is all about protecting private gain, greed and obstructing or dismantling government regulation of business, fairer taxation or investments in socially beneficial programs from healthcare to retirement security.

According to Politico, the group, which has 48 employees, is filled with a who’s who of corporate defenders and GOP ideologues. Its executive director is Richard Ribbentrop, a former head of the New York Stock Exchange’s Washington office, which, in addition to lobbying for Wall St. bailouts in 2008’s market collapse and then against new regulation of market excesses, also opposes financial transaction taxes—a huge potential revenue source. The group’s board includes longtime Koch employees, state and national GOP party officials, and Washington lobbyists.

Politico asked Short how his members felt about spending a quarter of a billion dollars in 2012 and losing the presidency, not retaking the Senate and alienating most Hispanic and Asian voters. “Our members are committed to the long term,” Short replied, “not to one individual cycle.”

In other words, a new era of class warfare in America is only just beginning. 

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).