High On Koch: How Harry Reid Makes Everything About The Koch Brothers - Brave New Films
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High On Koch: How Harry Reid Makes Everything About The Koch Brothers

By Sahil Kapur at Talking Points Memo

Every major election-year fight in 2014 has been co-opted or spun by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (as well as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats' campaign committees) into a broadside against billionaire oil tycoons Charles and David Kochs and their ostensible Republican lackeys.

On Tuesday evening, Reid and Pelosi will host a screening on Capitol Hill of the anti-Kochs film "Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition," an updated version of filmmaker Robert Greenwald's 2012 documentary.

Here's your guide to how Democrats make everything about the Koch brothers.

1. Campaign Finance

This is the prime source of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) discontent with the Kochs -- the issue that directly implicates them. The two brothers are flooding the airwaves in key states with millions of dollars in attacks on Democrats, in an effort to help Republicans win control of the Senate.

"The shadowy Koch brothers and all their different organizations [are] attempting to buy America," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said last week, in a line that he repeats frequently.

2. Minimum Wage

When Senate Republicans filibustered a minimum wage hike -- a signature campaign issue for Democrats -- late April, Reid knew exactly who to blame. 

3. Jobless Insurance

House Republicans have stonewalled a Senate-passed revival of long-term unemployment benefits, and Reid says they're doing the Koch brothers' bidding.

"Their billionaire sugar-daddies aren't interested in helping middle American families get a fair shot," Reid said on April 28. "Charles and David Koch aren't concerned with long-term unemployed families, and so the Republicans they sponsor in the House of Representatives are content to do nothing."

4. Obamacare

The GOP's great white whale for the last four years has also been a top target for the Koch brothers in their attack ads against Democrats. And Reid has repeatedly accused the oil barons of having ulterior motives.

"This discussion – this fight – isn't just about health care or even about a few hundred million dollars in disingenuous ads," he said on March 4. "This is about two very wealthy individuals who intend to buy their very own Congress – a Congress beholden to their money and bound to enact their radical philosophy."

5. Benghazi

When House Republican leaders announced they'll form a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attacks of 2012, Reid found a way to insert a Koch reference in his brief statement.

"Republicans care more about defending billionaires like the Koch brothers and trying to rekindle debunked right-wing conspiracy theories than raising the minimum wage or ensuring women receive equal pay for equal work," he said on May 2.

6. Climate Change

On May 7, when Reid took to the Senate floor to talk up a massive new White House reportabout the dangers of man-made global warming, he labeled the Koch brothers "one of the main causes" of climate change.

The claim was dubious, as the Washington Post's fact-checker pointed out, but Reid's office stuck to their guns insisted that Koch Industries was "one of the leading U.S. carbon emitters." (Publicly-traded entities like Dow Chemical and ExxonMobil pollute on a much larger scale.)

7. Filibuster Rules

On Tuesday, Reid launched a broadside against Republicans for delaying the confirmation of executive appointees to the Justice Department -- and, naturally, suggested they're doing so at the behest of the Koch brothers.

"Now, we have one of the assistant attorney generals is for the Environment and Natural Resources Division," he said, adding: "I know the Koch brothers. They don't want environmental protection. They say that. So maybe it is ... the beck and call of the Koch brothers who don't want any of these environmental laws enforced."

8. Employment Reports

Reid has name-checked the Koch brothers in the last two monthly employment reports, each time accusing Republicans of standing up for the Kochs instead of the American middle class.

"Unfortunately, my Republican colleagues are too busy defending billionaires like the Koch brothers to bother with the middle class," he said May 2, in response to the April jobs report.

9. Economic Studies

When the Congressional Budget Office issued a report in February about the impacts of a federal minimum wage increase, Reid began his statement with a reference to the Kochs, even though the report had nothing to do with them.

“The Koch brothers made over $18 billion in 2013 alone, but middle-class families have watched their incomes stagnate for decades," he said Feb. 18. "Our economy should work for everyone, not just the top one percent."


The one exception to the Koch rule seems to be immigration reform, where Reid doesn't appear to have linked the Kochs to the GOP blockade of reform in the House. But the issue has limited valence in the 2014 elections. House districts are structured in a way that immigrant voters aren't critical in key races. In the Senate, Republicans don't want to inflame Hispanic voters and Democrats in critical red states don't want to inflame conservative voters.