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August 25, 2011 10:26 PM UTC

So The Koch Brothers Know About This, Do They?

  • by: Colorado Pols

Earlier this week we briefly mentioned the “Running on Empty” tour by conservative group Americans for Prosperity, then making its way through the state of Montana with much anti “Big Oil” counter-protest banging and clanging–not exactly the intended outcome for AFP or its Colorado director, former CD-5 GOP congressional candidate Jeff Crank.

Well, as the Colorado Independent’s John Tomasic reports today, AFP arrived in Colorado yesterday with a fascinating new twist–stymieing counter-protesters with agreement?

The right and left protesters and counter-protesters gathered here off a sprawling suburban four-lane road and around a wall-less field house at the Boulder County Fairgrounds agreed on at least two things: that the group hosting the gathering, Americans for Prosperity, is suffering an image problem and that government subsidies to oil and gas companies have got to end… [Pols emphasis]

AFP is bankrolled by conservative politics string-pullers Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who run blockbuster oil and gas company Koch Industries. The Kochs have spent millions over the last decade battling government regulations on business and have become well-known as the political fights they have chosen have grown nastier and as the media focuses increasingly on their influence. They played a key roll through AFP in the battle against health care reform last year and in the battle to break public employee unions in Wisconsin this year.

AFP’s “Running on Empty” tour is making stops throughout the Colorado Front Range this week, arguing that high prices at the gas pump are tied to over regulation of the oil and gas industry in the Obama era…

“You see, we agree. If they looked on our website and listened to what we’re saying, we agree that the country should end all subsidies, that there should be a level playing field [among industries] and that government should stand aside.”

Counter protesters, who outnumbered the AFP crowd, agreed that a level playing field would be nice. Oil and gas is not only getting enormous tax breaks and subsidies now but they have been incentivized by the U.S. government for most of the last century, one way or another, with the government laying roadways coast to coast and stimulating the auto market (including special incentives for the SUV market) for years.

We can’t help but think that the message of ending oil industry subsidies, a recurring Democratic proposal, was not the intended message of AFP’s tour. The Republican majority in the U.S. House consistently opposes eliminating tax credits and other subsidies for oil and natural gas, and the current proposal faces an “uphill battle.” Cornered, some Republicans have expressed hypothetical support (since it polls catastrophically if they don’t), but more recently these tax breaks have been lumped in with the GOP’s dogmatic line against any “tax increases.”

And they are worth several billion dollars a year to oil companies like Koch Industries. Now we don’t know how much Jeff Crank gets paid every year, but we’re pretty sure his salary would not equal even one billion dollars unless multiplied by a lot.

There were reportedly lots of other problems with the AFP’s message yesterday, an amusing one on how gas prices have “doubled” since Obama became President. This conveniently omits the fact that gas was nearly $4 a gallon six months months before. But first, we needed to make sure the funders knew what was going on! It seems like this could be some kind of, well, a trap, so kidding aside, we hope the Koch brothers don’t dock Crank’s check over it.

Honestly, astroturfing up sympathy for the oil industry right now is just hard.


6 thoughts on “So The Koch Brothers Know About This, Do They?

  1. And they should as an activist group. But as I’ve said before and Democrats in oil producing regions agree, certain tax incentives would hurt small producers is removed, and reduce new exploration:

    I’m sure that the funders of AFP are willing to agree to disagree. Americans For Prosperity is a great group of people! It’s no surprise to me the Democrats don’t think so.

    1. Any tax incentive would hurt the recipient if removed. So would any welfare payment or subsidy. That by itself is not a reason to continue the subsidy. What’s the benefit to society from the subsidy? Shouldn’t that matter a little bit?

      Personally I think oil producers would be better off in the long run if they got their filthy mouths off the government teat and learned to run their business like a free market enterprise instead of some welfare-sucking frack-addicted tax-cheat.

      1. The 5 big oil companies alone made $36 billion in profits in the first quarter of this year alone. There was probably a time 50 years ago when heavy subsidies to oil and gas companies were necessary, but that time has long since passed. If you can make billions of dollars in profits every three months, you really don’t need any government subsidies.

    2. Many of the more T type don’t agree with you. Or the Kochs. And love how the only tax cut the Rs are in favor of sunsetting is the payroll tax, the one middle and low income Americans pay, even those who don’t make enough to pay income tax. None of you mind “hurting” them and taking that money out of the economy.

    3. another case of TPers agreeing with progressives.  Trouble in rightie paradise?

      WASHINGTON — After banning and confiscating cameras at his town hall events, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) is taking heat from all sides — including from Tea Party activists Eric Odom and Judson Phillips.

      The controversy has yielded a rare moment of agreement between progressives and Tea Party activists. Odom sharply criticized Chabot in an email to supporters on Thursday, writing, “Just when you think you’ve seen it all… a story breaks about a Republican Congressman (or his staff) instructing police to confiscate cameras from constituents in the audience of a townhall event! Yep, you read that right, at a public townhall event, in a public venue (high school gym), hosted by a public official and coordinated by public staffers, personal/private cameras and cell phones are now being forcefully removed to keep video footage from hitting YouTube.”

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