Every summer, at about this time, conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch apparently shine the sign of the relentlessly sucking vampire squid onto the dark, steely clouds above Gotham and call our nation’s most evil industrialists to a secret location, where, over steak, cigars, and the world’s finest prostitutes, they plot the destruction of our federal government alongside their bought-and-paid-for politicians.
Well, this year, thanks to an anonymous source, audio has been smuggled out from this several hundred person event, which the Koch brothers refer to ironically as “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society.”
There’s a lot that still needs to be delved into, but, on the surface, the biggest surprise seems to be the fact that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell can be heard on the recording promising hundreds of our country’s most wealthy conservatives that, if the Republicans take control of the United States Senate this November, they’ll set out immediately to scuttle current attempts to raise the minimum wage, and instead set to work defunding every initiative put in place by the Obama administration… rolling back environmental protections, repealing Wall Street reforms, and killing Obamacare.
While there’s no evidence as to how well his message was received, our friends at Think Progress are reporting that the objective of this year’s secret Koch event was “to raise $500 million toward making McConnell the Senate majority leader next year and another $500 million to defeat a potential Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.” And it would seem that McConnell did a pretty good job of articulating why investing in the Republican party would be in the best interests of those in the room.
Given the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court, which essentially gave corporations the ability to expend unlimited resources on U.S. elections, one imagines that Mitch won’t have any problem raising the money…. Speaking of the Supreme Court’s 5 to 4 Citizens United ruling, McConnell can be heard on the tape praising the decision as having “(leveled) the playing field for corporate speech” and given rise to “the most free and open system we’ve had in modern times.”
Here, if you’re interested to know more about what McConnell said, is a clip from the New York Times, followed by a recording of the audio.
…“In the House and Senate, we own the budget,” he said, explaining that the initial blueprint on taxes and spending does not require the president’s signature. “So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. We will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on health care, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board. All across the federal government, we’re going to go after it.”
The channel released audio of three other Republicans in tough Senate races — Representatives Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Joni Ernst, a state senator in Iowa — all of whom also praised Charles G. and David H. Koch and the millions of dollars they have provided to help Republican candidates…
Fortunately, as the author of the New York Times piece points out, McConnell, even if he and his party take the Senate, may have a problem making good on his promises, unless he has a plan as to how they might be able to end the filibuster. (As it stands, spending bills with “riders” would need 60 votes in the Senate in order to avoid filibuster, and, even if the Republicans retake the Senate, it seems unlikely they would be able to get that many votes to repeal the initiatives McConnell noted.) That doesn’t, however, mean that they couldn’t do significant damage. As the New York Times points out, “Through a budget procedure called reconciliation, Republicans could clear a path to tax legislation or changes to entitlement programs that could pass later in the year with simple majorities in the House and the Senate.”
Elizabeth Warren, among others, is taking McConnell’s comments very seriously. Here’s what she had to say earlier today.
I couldn’t believe the words that came out of Mitch McConnell’s mouth last week.
The Republican Leader admitted that if his party takes control of the Senate this November, they’ll spend the next two years using tricks and political games to undermine President Obama’s power and grind the government’s work to a halt.
Then today, a new audio recording came out of Mitch McConnell speaking at a secret Koch Brothers strategy conference. He confirmed his plans: First, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and second, gut the new rules we passed to hold Wall Street accountable. It’s a one-two punch to leave families on their knees while the big banks rake in bigger and bigger profits.
If you thought last year’s government shutdown was reckless, or if you thought last month’s Republican lawsuit against the President was disgraceful, just imagine what Washington will look like with a Republican-controlled House and Senate bought and paid for by the millionaires, billionaires, and Wall Street.
It’s already hard enough to get real reform done in Washington, but as long as we control the Senate, we can stay on offense. And most importantly, we’re in a much better position to fight for what we believe in.
-To fight for raising the minimum wage, so no one who works full-time lives in poverty.
-To fight for strengthening Social Security, so people can retire with dignity after a lifetime of work.
-To fight for our kids to have a chance to go to college without getting crushed by debt.
-To fight for equal pay for equal work and access to birth control.
-And to fight for stronger rules and tougher enforcement on Wall Street, so we can start to level the playing field for America’s middle class.
I’m fighting for this and a whole lot more – but the truth is, it would become much more difficult to get anything done if we lose control of the Senate two months from now.
If you’d like to help ensure that we keep the Senate from the hands of politicians who owe their careers to the Koch brothers and the astroturf Tea Party organizations that they’ve created to attack progressive candidates and spread disinformation helpful to their small government cause, please join me in sending a few dollars today to Alison Lundergan Grimes so that she can afford to keep fighting McConnell in Kentucky. It’s certainly an uphill battle, but it’s not impossible.