Mike Lofgren is a self-described “GOP operative who left the cult.” In his new book “The Party is Over” Lofgren takes an unvarnished view of politics from the right and the left to provide a brutal analysis of a capital crippled by monied interests. In Longren’s recent interview with Truth Out, one quote clarifies much of the craziness coming from today’s incredibly well-organized and ultimately rational right wing:
“I find it very significant, for example, that the Kochs were early funders of Michele Bachmann’s presidential race. Titans of billion-dollar oil industries are, of course, too shrewd and cynical to believe the childish bosh that Bachmann spouts daily, but as a political stooge, she is worth the investment. The more controversy is stirred up about death panels and Muslim infiltration of the government, the less discussion there is, for example, about the tax subsidies for the oil industry.”
It’s easy to become distracted by the shiny mania coming from conservative channels. But here’s a look at the real issues they obviously want you to ignore:
Tax Subsidies for the Oil Industry
The Koch brothers vast empire comprises much more than oil. A mere $100 billion of their vast income comes from petroleum. Would their bottom line be hurt if the $20 billion our government annually gives to the oil industry in tax subsidies dried up? Of course. And the fact that Mitt Romney has pledged to cut subsidies for new energy sources like wind guarantees their profits will be safe for decades to come.
You hear the words “Keystone Pipeline” and inflated number of jobs it will create. But you don’t hear much about Harold Hamm, chairman of Romney’s Energy Policy Advisory Council. He’s also the CEO of Continental Resources, which owns an oil field in North Dakota that would connect directly to the Gulf of Mexico through a completed Keystone Pipeline. Any populism the GOP musters for this project cloaks what the NRDC sees as the pipeline’s true intention: to “raise the price” of US and Canadian crude, making billionaires like Hamm millions.
A Giant Nuclear Waste Dump
The joke goes that candidates should have to wear corporate logos of their sponsors like NASCAR drivers. Some would have the wear the symbol signifying radioactive material. Harold Simmons has already spent more than $15 million this year to elect Republicans; a large chunk directly intended to help elect Mitt Romney. Romney has called for the fast tracking of the permit process that would directly help Simmons’ nuclear waste business. He also has built a nuclear waste dump larger than 1,000 football fields that is sitting empty pending a decision from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by 2014. Guess who would appoint members of the commission who would likely see Simmons side of the argument? The words “political donation” seems so quaint. “Political investment” seems more accurate.
Taxes on the Rich
Every few decades, George F. Will makes a decent point. Recently, he said that it’s a miracle that there isn’t more money in politics. And this is true if you consider the more than a trillion dollars we’ve given to the rich in the last decade in tax breaks that have yielded no net new jobs. Mitt Romney isn’t just the spokesman for avoiding taxes on the rich; he’s an expert at it. A donation to Mitt Romney isn’t just an investment in keeping your Bust tax breaks. Mitt is promising on average a $87,000 a year in new tax breaks for millionaires. So any donation less than $261,000 dollars can still expect to see a positive return on an investment in Mitt’s first term.
Billions and Billions in Defense Contracts
If Republicans are ever convinced to raise taxes it will be to avert something even more anathema to the modern GOP—defense cuts. The defense industry donates millions to candidates, mostly to Republicans, and when they speak, Congress listens. The budget sequester that the President signed into law to end the debt limit crisis of 2010 includes sizable defense cuts that now appear to be a poison pill that could prompt actual Republicans to vote for actual new taxes. “Compromise will be necessary to avoid sequestration,” a spokesman for the powerful National Association of Government Contractors has said. Ike warned us of the military-industrial complex. But this is a reminder that even Republicans are Keynesians when it’s time to cut the defense budget because of the power of defense contractors.