I have a prediction: Charles and David Koch will soon announce they’re backing Bernie Sanders for president.
Here’s my logic, which is irrefutable:
We know the Koch brothers, and the organizations they fund, hate corporate welfare more than anything. They hate it!
The top priority of Freedom Partners, which oversees the Koch network of donors, is “tackling ‘rent-seeking,’ ‘corporate welfare,’ and other forms of cronyism.”
Charles Koch himself just told Politico’s Mike Allen that “We have to show that this corporate welfare and cronyism is unjust.” Sure, said Koch, it makes their friends unhappy, but “so what? You’ve got to do the right thing.” So as Allen wrote, “Rolling back corporate welfare is one of the top issues Koch is pursuing.”
Similarly, when Koch spoke recently to 450 of his fellow big donors at a recent Koch event in California, he demanded that “they have to start opposing, rather than promoting, corporate welfare.” In the Wall Street Journal, Koch wrote that “I have spent decades opposing cronyism and all political favors, including mandates, subsidies and protective tariffs.”
Cynics might suspect that the Kochs are talking up this part of their stated agenda because it’s one of the few things on it that’s genuinely popular with Americans — unlike most of their other treasured goals, like gutting Social Security and Medicare and radically slashing taxes on billionaires like themselves.
I, however, choose to believe.
And if you hate corporate welfare like I believe the Koch brothers do, it’s obvious that Bernie’s your candidate. He’s been railing against it for decades, and way back in 2002 estimated that it’s costing us $125 billion per year. Corporations “line up for billions in corporate welfare from the federal government,” Bernie says, because of a “greed culture.” And he specifically hates the Export-Import Bank, just like the Kochs.
By contrast, take a look at the presidential candidates whom the Kochs invited to audition for them a few weeks ago, like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker. They LOVE corporate welfare. Scott Walker just committed $400 million in taxpayer money to build a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. Bush and a business partner got a bailout worth over $4 million in 1990 during the Savings & Loan Crisis, and Bush has said the 2008 Wall Street bailout was “probably the right thing to do.” Rubio defends his support for subsidies for sugar farmers in Florida because they somehow protect our national security.
Sure, there are some issues on which Bernie and the Koch brothers disagree. But Bernie’s also the best fit with their purported beliefs about ending the war on drugs, gay marriage, and a less militaristic foreign policy. And the Kochs obviously disagree with all the GOP candidates on tons of things too.
The alternative to taking the Koch brothers at their word is to conclude that all the stuff they say that progressives love is just a scam — that when it’s time to get out their checkbooks to put people in office, the only thing they actually care about is whether those politicians will make them richer. (This is what free market economists call “revealed preference.”)
But I do take the Koch brothers at their word, so I look forward to seeing them sitting proudly in the front row when Bernie Sanders takes the presidential oath of office on January 20, 2017. Unless they decide to go with Jill Stein.