Koch Brothers Rebuff Buffet On Raising Billionaire Taxes

Koch Brothers Rebuff Buffet On Raising Billionaire Taxes

You know the whiny rich kid in class that had everything and still threw tantrums when the teacher didn't treat them first? Meet the Kochs.

Last week free-market guru Warren Buffet wrote an open letter to what he called a "billionaire-friendly congress" that asked them to stop coddling the super-rich and to raise their taxes; a welcome bit of lucidity from the upper-most tier of the upper class. The reactions to Buffet's congressional admonishment were predictable, with many of the Republican conservatives spouting more anti-government rhetoric, and liberals and Democrats hailing him as a capitalist hero. His letter even coincided with another private sector appeal from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz; for companies and corporations to stop donating to political campaigns until they can come to a "fair and bipartisan agreement" and for the private sector to start hiring. In that moment it almost sounded like big business actually had middle-class backs. Then the Koch brothers put their two cents in, and we're back where we started.

The Koch Brothers released a statement into the conservative news cycle, National Review Online, that was a response to Buffet's earlier plea to raise uber-rich taxes.

Much of what the government spends money on does more harm than good; this is particularly true over the past several years with the massive uncontrolled increase in government spending. I believe my business and non-profit investments are much more beneficial to societal well-being than sending more money to Washington. — Charles G. Koch, Chairman and CEO, Koch Industries, Inc.

The Kochs effectively side-step the issue of the super wealthy "doing their share", as Buffet put it, and asking lawmakers to close their numerous tax loopholes. In fact, they don't bring up the issue of paying lower tax rates than, say, their secretaries at all. More over, there's no mention in this about what their particular contribution to anything is; either taxed income or "non-profit investments". Instead Charles spins the conversation away from what they actually pay to the government in taxes, and toward a fairly nebulous (but nonetheless prevailing) belief among conservatives: philanthropic spending is more beneficial than "sending money to the government". By the way, by "sending money" they're talking about paying their taxes. Possible audit here? I think so.

Instead they slam the government (of course) and their "massive spending" (of course) and then make their real pitch. Why have the super-rich pay any taxes at all? Just have then build their business (trickle-down economics... because that's worked for us so well) and "invest" in non-profits and philanthropic foundations! After all, in the Kochs brains, it's more helpful to "societal well-being". Of course, that depends on what those non-profits are and how much money you stand to make form them. Oh yeah, non-profits can be very profitable!

The non-profit that Mr. Koch is most likely referring to is the one he and his brother founded called Americans For Prosperity, a politically conservative foundation dedicated to furthering the Tea Party's agenda; deregulating private companies (like their own enormous petrochemical empire) and cutting taxes (even further). In addition, they gave millions to Florida State University's Economics College...but with the rider that a Koch-appointed advisory board will choose all new faculty hirings, and if they don't, they can pull the funding. They also gave to conservative think-tanks pimping the war in Iraq and various groups decrying the "hoax" of global warming. The Koch brothers are not donating money to soup kitchens or Habitat for Humanity... they're furthering a political agenda, and though they may think this is "helping more", I don't see Americans for Prosperity furthering cancer research or building roads.

So other than the government providing these men with the ways of earning their means, of unprecedented low tax rates for super rich and a multitude of tax loopholes and deregulated overseas shelters; their still not satisfied. Nope, they want the whole pie... and yours too.