What is this blog about?

What is this blog about?

I am a political philosopher. My 'political philosophy' is a form of 'liberal egalitarianism.' So in this blog I reflect on various issues in political philosophy and politics (especially Canadian and American politics) from a liberal egalitarian perspective.

If you are curious about what I mean by 'liberal egalitarianism,' my views are strongly influenced by the conception of justice advanced by John Rawls. (So I sometimes refer to myself as a 'Rawlsian,' even though I disagree with Rawls on some matters.)

Astonishingly, I am paid to write and teach moral and political philosophy. I somehow manage to do this despite my akratic nature. Here is my faculty profile.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Kochtopus is poised to control the Trump administration

I’ve mentioned the threat that the Koch brothers and the various organizations that they fund and control – a sprawling plutocratic network of political influence and corruption often referred to as the ‘Kochtopus’ – pose to American democracy before in this blog. Given that the Kochs refused to back Trump during the 2016 election, they have not been subject to as much scrutiny in the most recent election cycle as they have been in the past. However, the Kochs are now poised to shape the policy agenda of the coming Trump administration in numerous horrible ways.

Theda Skocpol, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, and Caroline Tervo explain what is happening in their important article, “Behind ‘Make America Great,’ the Koch Agenda Returns with a Vengence,” at TPM.

Some key points:
During the election campaign, Trump relied upon well-established conservative organizational networks that could reach into many states and communities. … [H]e benefitted indirectly from Koch network operations centered in a nation-spanning, political party-like federation called Americans for Prosperity. Even more important, after his campaign squeaked through on November 8, an unprepared President-Elect Trump started to fall back on people and plans offered by the Koch network, which aims to dismantle not only Barack Obama’s accomplishments but much of what the federal government has done for 75 years to promote security and opportunity for ordinary Americans.

Despite loud pronouncements from Charles Koch that his network would not support Trump, the Kochs’ massive political operation worked over many months to turn out Republican voters in key states. Above all, AFP was deeply involved in get-out-the-vote efforts, especially in the critical swing states of Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.

Having helped to elect Trump and a fully GOP-controlled Congress, the Koch network is now positioned to staff and steer much that happens in Washington DC.

For the emerging Trump White House, Vice President Mike Pence, long a Koch network favorite, was put in charge of transition planning for federal personnel appointments – and one of his senior staffers for this effort is his long-time associate, Marc Short, recent head of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the lynchpin of the Koch network’s fundraising operation.

In addition to Pence and Short, newly-named White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has had strong ties to AFP’s chapter in Wisconsin – a chapter that has been central to all aspects of politics and policy in that state during the ascendancy of Governor Scott Walker.

After apparently denouncing and opposing GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan during the election campaign, President-Elect Trump did a quick about-face to fully embrace Ryan and his radical government-shrinking policy agenda. Speaker Ryan has been a featured politician at many Koch donor conclaves over the years, and Washington Post reporter Matea Gold has described Ryan as “clearly a favorite of the Koch donor network.” It is not hard to see why. Ryan’s main priorities, already spelled out in budgets that House Republicans have repeatedly passed, include slashing federal funding for Medicaid, Food Stamps, and other parts of the social safety net for the poor; privatizing Medicare for future generations of American retirees; instituting large and regressive tax cuts rewarding corporations and the very wealthy; gutting what remains of labor regulations and union rights; and eliminating business and environmental regulations.

With all of these leadership ties in place, is it no surprise that specific plans have rapidly emerged to advance the Koch agenda in the new Congress that convenes in January 2017, perhaps enacting bills so quickly that opponents will be disorganized and most Americans will not understand what is happening.

With total GOP control of Washington DC about to happen, the Koch network dream of an enfeebled U.S. domestic government is on the verge of realization.
Read the whole thing – and despair.

1 comment:

  1. On Paul Ryan's horrifying agenda: