Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Koch Brothers in Focus

According to the left wing Center for Public Integrity, the Koch brothers spent $20 million on lobbyists in 2008.

While the direction of some of the spending could be cheered-on by those who are friends of liberty, other spending certainly raises an eyebrow.

The CPI article, written by John Aloysisu Farrell reports that
The Kochs primarily donate to conservative candidates and causes but have given more than $1 million in the last decade to the liberal Brookings Institution. And among politicians they supported last year was Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat elected governor of New York with $87,000 from the Koch family.
Here's another head scratcher.  Anyone who follows the ethanol market knows it wouldn't survive without huge subsidies from government. Plain and simple, it drives up the price of corn at a time commodity prices are climbing anyway, for the benefit of corn growers and ethanol refiners. All the time using tax payer money to pay the subsidies. A liberty lover would never go near one of these plants, yet Farrell reports:
As its corporate officials and publicists decried ethanol as a costly government boondoggle, the Kochs bought four ethanol plants in Iowa in recent months, with a combined annual capacity of 435 million gallons. In Washington (where ethanol tax subsidies cost the Treasury some $6 billion annually) Koch representatives lobbied Congress on ethanol and other biofuel subsidies.
“New or emerging markets, such as renewable fuels, are an opportunity for us to create value within the rules the government sets,” Flint Hills Resources President Brad Razook told his employees in the January company newsletter.
Koch Industries’ status as an ethanol player goes beyond its new Iowa plants. Koch blends ethanol and gasoline nearby, in its Minnesota refinery. By its own account, the company’s subsidiaries, Flint Hills and Koch Supply & Trading, currently buy and market about one-tenth of all the ethanol produced in the United States.
A Koch newsletter attempted to justify the Koch brothers operations in ethanol. Farrell writes:
“After all, ethanol production is heavily subsidized, mandated and protected,” Koch Industries acknowledged, “while Koch companies openly oppose such government programs.”

Realism had won out. The company has the “capabilities necessary to be successful in the ethanol industry,” the newsletter explained. The new ethanol plants “fit well geographically with several other FHR assets, including fuel … terminals, a widespread distribution network that includes Iowa, and the Pine Bend [Minnesota] refinery.”

“We are not going to place our company and our employees at a competitive disadvantage by not participating in programs that are available to our competitors,” Razook assured Koch employees.
While Barney Frank didn't spend much time paying attention to Tom Woods testimony about the Federal Reserve, it appears that the Kochs, through their lobbyists, had much better luck. Farrell reports the Koch brothers:
...spent heavily on lobbyists who worked to shape the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act and other vehicles for financial reform. The Koch lobbyists focused, in particular, on provisions aimed at regulating systemic risk in the financial markets, and the use of derivatives.
While Farrell positions the Kochs' lobbyists efforts as an attempt to "resist regulation" there's no way anyone besides the insiders know how the legislation was influenced by the Kochs. The devil is really in the details when it comes to this type legislation. Influence over one paragraph can sometimes make a big difference. All we know for sure is that the same Koch brothers who gave money to Andrew Cuomo's campaign  and who are aggressively buying up ethanol plants, were in big on doing something in the Dodd-Frank Act.

And they haven't stopped with that. Farrell reports:
Within a few weeks after President Obama signed the legislation, Koch lobbyist Gregory Zerzan had secured a coveted meeting with SEC Commissioner Troy Paredes, a Bush appointee, and his counsel, Gena Lai, to discuss how the government would implement the law.
(Via Lew Rockwell's new web site: Lew Rockwell's Political Theatre)

1 comment:

  1. What is hell wrong with you? You realize that Koch Industries is only the 6th largest oil lobbyist? Lots of corporations spend more than them. Exxon, Chevron, etc. Do you mention them? No. Why? Because the Koch's are also Libertarian activists as well as businessmen?

    I can see why that bothers the socialists. Funny, though, that it should bother "libertarians" like you and Lew Rockwell so much.....