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“Selfless Libertarian Activist?”: Charles Koch Personally Founded Group Protecting Oil Industry Hand-Outs, Documents Reveal

“Lifestyles of the Rich Environmentalists,” produced by a group called the Institute for Energy Research, is a slick web video campaign designed to lampoon Leonardo DiCaprio and will.i.am as hypocrites for supporting action on climate change. The claim is that wealthy celebrities who oppose industrial-scale pollution supposedly shouldn’t fly in airplanes that use fossil fuels. The group, along with its subsidiary, the American Energy Alliance, churns out a steady stream of related content, from Facebook memes criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency, to commercials demanding approval of new oil projects like the Keystone XL, to a series of television campaign advertisements this year attacking Democratic candidates in West VirginiaColoradoNorth Carolina and Alaska. On Capitol Hill, IER aggressively opposes any effort to repeal tax breaks afforded to the oil and gas industry.

Documents obtained by Republic Report reveal for the first time that the group was actually founded by none other than Charles Koch, the petrochemical, manufacturing, and oil-refining tycoon worth an estimated $52 billion.

IER has no information about its founding members on its website, and only lists a board composed of seemingly independent conservative scholars and businessmen. Earlier reports revealed that IER/AEA has received grants from Koch-funded foundations, and its leadership includes several individuals who have at times worked for Koch or Koch-related interests. But this is the first time it has been revealed that Charles personally founded the organization.

In October of 1984, Charles, then using a Menlo Park, California address, founded a non-profit called the Institute for Humane Studies of Texas. That organization briefly lost its charter in 1989 for failure to pay the Texas state franchise tax. Four years later, incorporation documents reveal, the group rebranded as the Institute for Energy Research, or IER, which later formed a subsidiary called the American Energy Alliance.

IER/AEA’s advocacy contrasts sharply with Charles’ personal brand as a selfless libertarian activist. The industrialist has argued that he is resolutely against special government handouts, such as tax credits or subsidies that benefit one industry over another. “Far from trying to rig the system, I have spent decades opposing cronyism and all political favors, including mandates, subsidies and protective tariffs—even when we benefit from them,” Charles wrote in a column for The Wall Street Journal this year.

But Charles’ group, IER/AEA, has fought to protect special tax breaks that benefit fossil fuel producers. Along with issuing press releases against various federal efforts to eliminate oil and gas industry tax credits, IER/AEA commissioned a study claiming that such tax reforms would have an adverse effect on jobs and on oil production.

Charles and his brother David are personally responsible for founding and funding much of the modern conservative infrastructure. The popular libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute, was in fact first named the Charles Koch Foundation, Inc before rebranding. The largest political organization in America outside the Democratic and Republican parties is Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party-organizing foundation also founded by the Kochs.

The latest organs in the Koch political network have carefully guarded the sources of their funding and direction. There is the new youth group, Generation Opportunity, along with the new veterans-related campaign organization, Concerned Veterans for America. But IER/AEA’s true origin casts new light on its motivations.
 

By: Lee Fang, Public Report, September 3, 2014

September 4, 2014 Posted by | Environment, Fossil Fuels, Koch Brothers | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“No Health Insurance, Just Drink”: Koch Brothers Generation Opportunity Campaign Against Obamacare Is Insanely Irresponsible

This is the strangest P.R. campaign yet against the Affordable Care Act. Generation Opportunity, the Koch-funded group behind the Creepy Uncle Sam ads, is throwing tailgate parties to “educate” young people about the exchanges. Read: To convince young people to forgo health insurance.

The group’s communication director, David Pasch, wrote an email to The Tampa Bay Times describing a drunken event at Saturday’s University of Miami-Virginia Tech football game:

“We rolled in with a fleet of Hummers, F-150’s and Suburbans, each vehicle equipped with an 8’ high balloon bouquet floating overhead. We hired a popular student DJ from UMiami (DJ Joey), set up OptOut cornhole sets, beer pong tables, bought 75 pizzas, and hired 8 ‘brand ambassadors’ aka models with bullhorns to help out.”

Mr. Pasch specified that “student activists,” rather than anyone employed directly by Generation Opportunity, “brought (lots of) beer and liquor for consumption by those 21 and over.”

As a sort of afterthought, he added, “Oh yeah, and we educated students about their healthcare options outside the expensive and creepy Obamacare exchanges.”

According to Think Progress, this isn’t a one-time thing: “The group is touring 20 different campuses this fall in a $750,000 effort to convince college students that they’re better off being uninsured than getting health coverage through Obamacare.”

That’s a lot of money for a campaign that’s not only insanely irresponsible, but also insanely dumb. Generation Opportunity is the old guy at a house party, convinced he can win the cool kids’ respect with booze.

 

By: Juliet Lapidos, Editors Blog, The New York Times, November 11, 2013

November 12, 2013 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Koch Brothers, Obamacare | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Self-Interested Plutocracy”: Desperate Republicans Are Terrified That Obamacare Will Succeed

Even acknowledging that our national politics have become increasingly contentious, here’s a development that is really odd: Two billionaire brothers are spending millions of dollars to try to persuade young Americans not to buy health insurance. What’s up with that?

The industrialist Koch brothers, David and Charles, are among the very richest Americans — indeed, among the very richest people on the planet. They are not merely members of the 1 percent; they’re in the topmost fraction of the 1 percent.

That means that they not only can afford to buy health insurance for themselves, but they can also buy physicians, hospitals, medical labs and pharmacies if they choose to do so. They have access to the very best medical care that money can buy — and, in America, that’s the difference between life and death.

But unlike, say, Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, the Koch brothers have not concerned themselves with trying to make life a bit more comfortable and pleasant for others. Oh, no. The Koch brothers are the very stereotype of the greedy and selfish hyper-rich, the poster boys for self-interested plutocracy. They want to control the country’s politics — no matter who gets hurt in their grab for power.

That’s why they’ve funded ultraconservative candidates and political causes over the past couple of decades. Their to-do list includes aiding the effort to torpedo the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. Among the political groups they fund is an outfit called Generation Opportunity, which is running a creepy ad to persuade young women of a lie: that Obamacare comes between a patient and her physician.

The Koch brothers know that the new health care paradigm depends on enlisting healthy young adults — people who tend to take the risk that they don’t need health insurance — into the system. If they don’t sign up, the new exchanges won’t have enough vigorous and youthful Americans to help pay the way for the sick and frail. Insurance companies need to be able to spread the costs around so they don’t go bankrupt trying to care for the ailing.

But the Koch brothers, like most conservatives, want Obamacare to fail. They are not concerned that the new health care law, which would extend insurance to the vast majority for the first time in history, is a “government takeover” of medicine or a “jobs-killer” or a ruinous new entitlement. None of that is true. (See factcheck.org or PolitiFact.com for actual facts about Obamacare.)

Nope, the real concern of most conservatives is that Obamacare will work, proving popular over the long run. Think about it: If they are so certain that the law will collapse under its own weight, why not step aside and allow it to do so? Why do they need to try to defund it and create creepy ads trying to persuade young people not to buy in? Why did they warn the National Football League not to promote the new health care exchanges?

If Obamacare succeeds, the generations-long conservative war against activist government would have lost another major battle, and more voters would be persuaded to vote for progressives. That’s the reason conservatives went all-out to defeat President Clinton’s similar health care proposal during his first term.

As Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, then fresh off his stint as Vice President Dan Quayle’s chief of staff, wrote in 1993: “… the long-term political effects of a successful Clinton health care bill will … relegitimize middle-class dependence for ‘security’ on government spending and regulation. It will revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests.”

There you have it. They don’t dare allow Obamacare to proceed unimpeded because Americans might come to like it and depend on it, as the elderly like and depend on Medicare. Indeed, conservatives, including Ronald Reagan, fought the creation of Medicare, claiming it was pure socialism.

Meanwhile, the Americans who would suffer most if Obamacare doesn’t succeed are those without health insurance or the promise of decent medical care. That includes the young adults who could be victims of terrible accidents or unforeseen diseases. Not that the Koch brothers care about them.

 

By: Cynthia Tucker, The National Memo, September 28, 2013

September 29, 2013 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Koch Brothers | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Wildly Misleading Pernicious Ads”: Sabotaging Health Care, One Lie At A Time

A Koch-brothers funded conservative group, Generation Opportunity, is out with a wildly misleading, pernicious set of ads aimed at sabotaging the Affordable Care Act by discouraging young people from signing up for health insurance exchanges.

One’s aimed at young men, the other at young women. In the “for him” version, an actor tells his doctor that he saw an ad for the Affordable Care Act and “figured, why not?” The doctor tells him to take his pants off, “hop up here, lay down and bend your knees to your chest.” He leaves the room. Then a man wearing an Uncle Sam mask snaps on a blue glove. As if the message weren’t perfectly clear, the ad states: “Don’t let government play doctor.”

The “for her” version is much the same, except in that case Uncle Sam’s performing a gynecological exam.

The ads are as offensive as they are derivative.

During the 2012 campaign, the reproductive rights site Lady Parts Justice released a web video attacking laws requiring women to undergo medically unnecessary ultrasounds before receiving abortions. In that spot, a woman with her feet in stirrups explains that she wants an abortion because she’s “just not emotionally or financially ready to have kids right now.” The doctor, sitting between her legs, responds, “OK, well, just so you know, the law says that before I can do that, I need to do some things to you that you need to pay extra for. You know, just some things that will help you better understand what it is you really want.” These “things” include inserting a camera into her vagina and looking at pictures of what’s inside her uterus.

But that video made sense—states actually did pass laws interfering with the doctor-patient relationship—whereas the Generation Opportunity ads perpetuate outright lies. Young people who sign up for exchanges won’t be getting access to government-run healthcare (if only they were!), but to privately run insurance. Nor does the A.C.A. force doctors to ask patients about their sex lives or perform unwanted exams—as Politifact explained recently. Under the A.C.A., government doesn’t “play doctor,” it merely enables access to doctors who then decide, using their professional judgment, the best course of action.

Signing up for an exchange isn’t an act of political (or sexual) submission. It’s just a way to get insurance if you don’t have a job or your employer doesn’t provide it. The Generation Opportunity crowd surely knows that and obviously doesn’t care because its priority now, as ever, is bringing down President Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment. The group also doesn’t care about the possibility that some number of young people, scared by its ads, will forego access to affordable care, get sick, and go bankrupt paying their medical bills.

 

By: Julie Lapidos, Opinion Pages Editor’s Blog, The New York Times, September 23, 2013

September 24, 2013 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Koch Brothers | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Money For Medical Bills Grows On Trees”: New Koch-Funded Front Group Tells Youth They Are Better Off Uninsured

For a new Koch-funded front group for young people, money for medical bills apparently grows on trees.

Generation Opportunity, a nonprofit financed with $5.04 million from a fund controlled by the Koch brothers’ lobbying team, just launched a new television advertisement to kick off an anti-Obamacare campaign. The ads, which provides no actual information about healthcare reform and instead seem designed to scare people away from doctor visits, have already been dissected by many in the media. What’s more revealing is Generation Opportunity’s real agenda, which was explained to Yahoo News in a story unveiling the new campaign (emphasis added):

Their message: You don’t have to sign up for Obamacare. “What we’re trying to communicate is, ‘No, you’re actually not required to buy health insurance,’” Generation Opportunity President Evan Feinberg told Yahoo News in an interview about the campaign. “You might have to pay a fine, but that’s going to be cheaper for you and better for you.”

So, the big idea here is that young people should decline health insurance? Having no health insurance is “better for you?” When a car accident happens, or someone is sent to the hospital needing critical care, who picks up the bill? For slash-and-burn Koch groups, that doesn’t seem to matter.

Notably, the young men and women hired by Generation Opportunity are provided health insurance, says organization’s communications director David Pasch, who spoke to TheNation.com over the phone. Lucky them.

Ethan Rome, the executive director of Health Care for America Now, says young Americans without health insurance will be “buried by bills and unable to recover for the rest of their lives.” “What they’re advocating is seriously unconscionable,” says Rome in response to Generation Opportunity’s call for youth to go uninsured.

Generation Opportunity also told Yahoo News that it will be passing out pizza and hosting tailgate parties to promote its campaign of opposing health insurance.

These antics, of course, are nothing new for the Koch brothers and their endless array of front groups. In the nineties, Koch-funded fronts fought healthcare reform by sponsoring a “broken-down bus wreathed in red tape symbolizing government bureaucracy and hitched to a tow truck labeled, ‘This is Clinton Health Care.’ ” They also fought environmental regulations, from acid rain to industrial air pollutants, not through sound policy arguments but by sponsoring populist-appearing agit-prop. More recently, Koch fronts have paid for moonbounces and other festival-type forms of outreach to lobby on issues critical to Koch Industries’ bottom line, like weakening the Environmental Protection Agency rules that affect Koch-owned facilities.

In the end, Koch operatives seem willing to use any marketing device that works, regardless of the truth or how it might affect regular people. In this case, encouraging young Americans to abandon health insurance is worth scoring political points against healthcare reform.

 

By: Lee Fang, The Nation, September 19, 2013

September 22, 2013 Posted by | Health Care, Koch Brothers | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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