Americaâ€™s current tax system forces people making $50,000 a year to pay a higher rate than hedge fund managers making $2.4 million an hour. Warren Buffett penned an op-ed last week declaring that Americaâ€™s super-rich have been â€ścoddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress.â€ť Lamenting the numerous tax loopholes and special breaks afforded to billionaire investors, Buffett noted that in his entire career, even when capital gains rates were as high as 39.9 percent, he never saw anyone â€śshy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain.â€ť
Charles Koch, head of the massive petrochemical, manufacturing, and commodity speculatingKoch Industries corporation, has responded to Warrenâ€™s call for shared sacrifice: â€śNo Thanks.â€ť In a statement to right-wing media, Koch states:
Much of what the government spends money on does more harm than good; this is particularly true over the past several years with the massive uncontrolled increase in government spending. I believe my business and non-profit investments are much more beneficial to societal well-being than sending more money to Washington.
Kochâ€™s â€śnon-profit investmentsâ€ť include the group founded by his brother David, â€śAmericans for Prosperityâ€ť (formerly known as Citizens for a Sound Economy). As ThinkProgress first reported, AFP was one the first and most well-resourced drivers of the anti-Obama so-called â€śTea Partyâ€ť movement. Koch-funded Tea Party events have featured speakers comparing health reform to theHolocaust, and in some cases have sponsored rallies with leaders of the â€śbirtherâ€ť conspiracy theory.
Among the Koch brothersâ€™ other non-profit investments include far-right conservative think tanks dedicated to cheerleading the war in Iraq, spreading anti-science propaganda, and smears claimingthat the poor do not really suffer. Koch has given money to educational initiatives, but in exchange for control over academic freedom that simply furthered Kochâ€™s political beliefs. These â€śinvestmentsâ€ť at best advance Kochâ€™s political ideology and at worst misinform American voters. Either way, they are hardly a replacement for â€śgovernment spend[ing]â€ť on things like food assistance and basic medical service.
According to Forbes, the Koch brothers have seen their wealth rise $11 billion in recent years, making the Koch brother among the richest in the country by being worth around $22.5 billioneach. Much of those profits, however, are due to soaring gas prices and the fact Koch Industries has avoided compensating the public for one hundred million tons of carbon pollution the company produces each year. Other Koch companies also receive significant taxpayer subsidies, despite Kochâ€™s supposed opposition to government spending. This company is among the countryâ€™s top sources of carcinogenic chemicals and air pollutants.
America has been good to Charles Koch, providing an environment where his family has made billions. But Koch doesnâ€™t want to give back, especially through more taxation. His charitable foundation, which gives largely to right-wing organizations that support his politics and Koch Industriesâ€™ business interests, still only donates about $12 million a year â€” 0.05 percent of Kochâ€™s net worth. If higher rates were imposed on the super-rich, would Koch retreat to the familyâ€™s fabulous mansions, like this one in the Hamptons, aboard its fleet of private jets in a John Galt-inspired temper tantrum? Or would they act like any respectable businessman, and continue to make a profit without complaining?