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“Koch Cadre Billionaire Defends Nazi Comments”: For The Continued Success Of The Richest Americans

Ken Langone, the billionaire Home Depot founder, GOP donor and an ally of Charles and David Koch, clumsily defended his March 2014 comments comparing populist criticism of the 1% with the rise of Nazi Germany, in an interview with Capital New York published this week.

Langone, a regular attendee of the twice-yearly secret strategy sessions for the mega rich organized by Charles and David Koch, has been speaking publicly of his concerns for the continued success of the richest Americans.

“We’re being strangled by regulation,” Langone told a conference of hedge fund managers in Las Vegas in mid May, as reported by CNN. “You’re in the 1%, there’s nothing wrong with that,” he continued. “You can do so much more with money than pay your taxes.”

The Top One Percent as Victims

Now, Langone has spoken to defend his past Nazi comparison, despite having somewhat backtracked just two months earlier.

From Huff Post:

Billionaire Kenneth Langone is still defending his comparison of income inequality talking points to rhetoric in Nazi Germany, after apologizing two months ago for the comments.

In a Capital New York interview published Monday morning, the Home Depot co-founder and Republican megadonor said it was a fair analogy to illustrate how democratic elections can yield results he finds terrifying.

“I simply said just because we’re a democracy doesn’t mean you can’t have bad results,” he said. “That’s all! I stand on what I said.”

Huff Post continued:

In a March interview with Politico, which owns Capital, Langone said a GOP pivot toward the economic populism championed by progressives and by such Tea Party candidates as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz would mirror the rise of Adolf Hitler.

“I hope it’s not working,” Langone said of the political appeals at the time. “Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany.”

Koch “Cadre”

The Kochs have been building their politcal network for more than forty years.

Nicholas Confessore, wrote about the history of the Koch brothers political activities in a front page New York Times story on May 18, 2014, detailing the origins of the present day Koch political operation.

According to Confessore, in a speech given to business leaders and others in 1974, Charles Koch outlined that vision saying: “The development of a well-financed cadre of sound proponents of the free enterprise philosophy is the most critical need facing us today.”

The Koch brothers are not the only billionaires using their wealth to push for radical deregulation. They now have a whole cadre.

 

By: Nick Surgey, The Center For Media and Democracy, May 19, 2014

May 25, 2014 Posted by | Democracy, Economic Inequality, Koch Brothers | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Rise Of The Super Rich”: GOP Congress Really Does Make The Rich Richer

Are you rich and want to get richer? Vote Republican! The stronger the GOP is in Congress, the larger the share of wealth the top 1 percent controls, according to a new study in the October issue of American Sociological Review, which confirms what we figured all along — there’s a direct connection between the rightward shift of Congress and the upward advance of the richest Americans’ net worths.

From 1949 through 2008, the impact of a 1 percentage point increase in the share of seats held by Republicans in the House (a little over five seats) raised the top 1 percent’s income share by about .08 percentage points.

“At first glance, this might seem negligible,” said Thomas Volscho, a sociologist at CUNY-College of Staten Island who co-authored the study. But it’s not. “Given that the estimated national income in 2008 was more than $7.8 trillion, an increase of only 1 percent in Republican seat share would raise the income of the top 1 percent by nearly $6.6 billion. That equates to about $6,600 per family in the top 1 percent.”

The ASR study, “The Rise of the Super-Rich,” looks at the experience of the 1 percent from just after World War II to 2008 and identifies several other factors that have propelled the top tier’s rise. The fact that the uber wealthy have gotten richer much faster than lower-income brackets has been well documented and helped spark the Occupy movement, but this research looks at the role that policy and other variables have played.

Beyond politics, Volscho and Kelly found that the decline of private-sector union membership, and the increasing financializing of the economy — which has heightened the impact of financial-asset bubbles — were also key contributors to income inequality and the rise of the 1 percent. Over the 60 years the paper studied, a 1 percentage point decrease in union membership among private sector workers was linked to a more than 0.4 percentage point increase in the income share of the super-rich.

But the most surprising finding of the study may be the impact a GOP Congress has on income inequality. “Based on our analysis, Democrats appear to favor an economic system that produces more egalitarian outcomes even before any redistribution occurs,” the study concludes. “In essence, the market is not completely beyond the influence of politics and policy, and it is not just in the realm of explicit redistribution that political parties produce divergent distributional outcomes. Political decisions in part ‘make the market.”

Interestingly, the party affiliation of the president did not significantly impact the wealth share of the top 1 percent. Volscho told Salon he was surprised by that finding. Instead, it’s Congress that has the bigger impact. “It was surprising, but not. Because if you look at, in 1995, the Republican takeover over Congress, that’s when you started to see the spike in the top 1 percent,” he said. “They had been doing well since around 1980, but not as well as around 1995. And the stock market boom started in 1995 as well, but we took that into consideration and that had an independent effect.”

The study doesn’t get into specific policies that impact income inequality much, calling for further research on the subject, but it doesn’t take a Ph.D. to make some pretty good guesses. Republicans (with help from Democrats, no doubt) have pushed tax cuts that disproportionately impact the wealthy, opposed redistributive programs, decreased financial regulation, which allowed for the explosion of financial speculation, cut education funding, etc. “There are so many things, appointments, heads of agencies, mundane policies and regulations that filter down from Congress into government agencies that potentially can aid the very rich,” Volscho said.

But a Republican president like Mitt Romney could help in that they would “make that pro-1 percent legislation flow through so much quicker,” Volscho said. Of course, this isn’t too surprising — polls consistently show that Americans think Romney and the GOP would do more to help the wealthy. Now social science shows they’re right!

 

By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, October 2, 2012

October 5, 2012 Posted by | Congress | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“It’s The 1 Percent, Stupid”: The Case Against Pitting The 47 Percent Vs The 99 Percent

The news of Mitt Romney’s remarks at a closed-door fundraiser that were leaked by Mother Jones has been dominating since it broke yesterday. The scandalous content appears plentiful enough to keep pundits and political junkies glued to Twitter for the remainder of the cycle. And let’s be clear: between Romney’s callous “wait-and see” approach to the Middle East peace process, his instrumental view of Latino voters and his parasitic characterization of those who are too poor to pay income tax, he painted a devastating picture of himself as a leader and a person.

The line from the video that is the source of the most fascination is when Romney claims that he cares not at all for the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income taxes and freeload off the government, since they are sure to be Obama voters anyway. The statement is a window into the cynical and meanspirited worldview that would guide this candidate’s policies and priorities were he to win in November. This alone should give every voter pause, regardless of partisan affiliation.

But there’s a reason right-wing blogger and CNN contributor Erick Erickson’s first tweet after seeing the leaked tapes expressed joy:

Dammit! I’m just now seeing these Romney secret videos. We need that guy on the campaign trail!

A year ago this week, a small band of committed activists achieved a goal that had eluded the established political organizations and the progressive nonprofit sector: they successfully shifted the national conversation away from one about cuts and austerity to one about our nation’s yawning economic inequality. “The 99 percent versus the 1 percent” became the rallying cry for an reinvigorated movement, and Occupy Wall Street ushered in a new era where political fantasy gave way to economic reality in shaping the public discourse.

While the glory days of Occupy faded with winter, the movement left an indelible imprint on our collective consciousness: despite partisan claims to the contrary, most residents in this country have far more in common than we have that drives us apart.

(A big shout out to those committed activists who retook Zuccotti Park for the anniversary of Occupy. For more on this, see Nation reporting here.)

Panicked by the need to respond to the growing sense of outrage about a rigged system built by some of their architects, right-wing leaders cast about for a way to change the conversation back to their own advantage. It was this desire that drove Erick Erickson to start the “53 percent movement.” In launching his campaign, Erickson called the protesters “whiners,” and sought a new social division—one that pitted the 53 percent of Americans who pay federal income taxes against those he claimed were “free-loading” activists. Despite his entreaties and the cheerleading of the right-wing echo chamber, their manufactured meme could not compete with the much more resonant, organic and accurate 99 percent rallying cry.

Still, the mathematical and rhetorical trick has remained in the back pocket of a GOP desperate to change the subject back to their hobbyhorse of the deficit. They see their opportunity in the resurrection of the 47 percent argument, despite how the moment presented itself.

There is now, as there was then, much to take issue with in the 47 percent statistic. Those 47 percent of Americans live below the poverty line or are unemployed or are elderly, many of whom have paid taxes their entire life. Those 47 percent also almost certainly pay some form of taxes: be it payroll taxes, income taxes, state taxes, property tax or sales tax. And there is emerging an even more in-the-weeds debate about whether or not these 47 percent are actually more likely to vote for Romney or Obama, an answer we’ll never find because it’s different depending on how you count. It is tempting to jump on these arguments—passionate as we all are for getting the ever-dwindling facts out to our fellow Americans.

But doing so will cede the home field advantage to the GOP. This certainty accounts for Stuart Varney’s crowing that it’s about time we get back to talking about how “half of the population is living off of the other half” during Fox and Friends’s morning coverage of the tapes. It is the same reason that Brian Kilmeade on the same network stated unequivocally that Romney should be stumping on this issue all the time. If we’re spending time talking about what half the population does or does not get or do, we inevitably draw attention away from the fact that the GOP is running a candidate whose entire life experience and political vision is shaped by being part of the top tiny fraction of this country’s wealth at a time where most Americans are struggling to get by.

So, while the campaign can’t be happy about the GOP-patented guerrilla tactics now coming back to bite one of their own, early pronouncements that the election was won last night are premature and irresponsible. If Romney’s camp can weather this storm and find themselves washed up on the beaches of the 47 percent versus the 99 percent, they might have a chance of not getting voted off the Island. This election—and more important, the fight for economic opportunity—remains about the genuine struggles and solutions that benefit all but the most privileged in this country. Romney’s dismissal of half of those folks doesn’t change that fact.

A full timeline of the right’s campaign to move the 47 percent meme is provided here by Media Matters for America.

By: Ilyse Hogue, The Nation, September 18, 2012

September 19, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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