Mother Jones: Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, whose bill to kill collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions has caused an uproar among state employees, might not be where he is today without the Koch brothers.
Charles and David Koch are conservative titans of industry who have infamously used their vast wealth to undermine President Obama and fight legislation they detest, such as the cap-and-trade climate bill, the health care reform act, and the economic stimulus package. For years, the billionaires have made extensive political donations to Republican candidates across the country and have provided millions of dollars to astroturf right-wing organizations.
Koch Industries’ political action committee has doled out more than .6 million to candidates. And one prominent beneficiary of the Koch brothers’ largess is Scott Walker.
According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker’s gubernatorial campaign received ,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election.
That donation was his campaign’s second-highest, behind ,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin. The Koch’s PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used politicial maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits.
The PAC gave million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent ,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping .4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker’s opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly.
The Kochs also assisted Walker’s current GOP allies in the fight against the public-sector unions. Last year, Republicans took control of the both houses of the Wisconsin state legislature, which has made Walker’s assault on these unions possible. And according to data from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the Koch Industries PAC spent ,500 in support of 16 Wisconsin Republican state legislative candidates, who each won his or her election.
Starving the [Government] Beast
“Starving the beast” is a fiscal-political strategy adopted by American conservatives in the 1970′s to create or increase existing budget deficits via tax cuts to force future reductions in the size of government. The term “beast” refers to the government and the programs it funds, particularly social programs such as welfare, Social Security, Medicare and public schools. [see Forbes]
the term “starving the beast” to refer to the political-fiscal strategy was in a Wall Street Journal article in 1985 where the reporter quoted an unnamed Reagan staffer.
The tax cuts of former US President George W. Bush’s administration, still in place, are an example. He said in 2001 “so we have the tax relief plan that now provides a new kind — a fiscal straight jacket for Congress. And that’s good for the taxpayers, and it’s incredibly positive news if you’re worried about a federal government that has been growing at a dramatic pace over the past eight years and it has been.”
Former U.S. vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin expressly advocates the policy: “please Congress, starve the beast, don’t perpetuate the problem, don’t fund the largess, we need to cut taxes.” U.S. Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, states “you should never have to offset the cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans.” Another well-known proponent of the strategy is activist Grover Norquist who famously said “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
Starving the beast in Texas includes Governor Perry and the Republican-controlled Texas legislature proposing to cut up to billion in spending from the next budget, without using any money from the billion rainy day fund, to reduce government by firing tens of thousands of teachers, closing K-12 schools, closing of community colleges, eliminating tuition support for 60,000 college students, closing correctional facilities and drastic reducing state services for the poor, elderly, and young and for those with mental health problems.