New: Steve Bannon ups the ante on Trump's war against the Kochs. "If you take Koch money, there's going to be a punishment," he warns GOP candidates in an exclusive interview w @schwartzbCNBC https://t.co/rZcyCtuTSb
— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) July 31, 2018
Mild response from Koch network to Trump’s irritation at Charles Koch’s criticism:
“We support policies that help all people improve their lives. We look forward to working with anyone to do so.”
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) July 31, 2018
— Frank Bass (@RealFrankBass) August 2, 2018
I’ve been reading about this Oligarch Feud for the past few days, wondering just where the levers were…
Most of the media coverage of the “ugly public feud,” as the New York Times called it, between President Trump and the Koch brothers has taken the Kochs at their word that they may have to give up on the Republican Party of Trump and start backing Democrats, so disgusted are they with the President’s protectionist trade policies. But history suggests that the Kochs’ threat is about as believable as that of a parent threatening to “just plain leave” if a balky toddler doesn’t behave.
Despite the brothers’ record as among the country’s largest and most consistently partisan financial sponsors, the Kochs’ pique at their own party is nothing new. For decades they have complained bitterly about Republican politicians whose fealty to their libertarian agenda has rarely, in their view, been absolute enough. This dissatisfaction with the Grand Old Party was evident as far back as 1980…
… In fact, it was the Kochs’ disappointment with George W. Bush’s expansion of prescription-drug benefits, among other issues, that inspired them, in 2003, to form their political-fund-raising network with like-minded conservatives. Since then, the group has grown into a private political machine that arguably rivals, and by some estimates overpowers, the Republican Party itself. Earlier this year, the network announced that it planned to spend four hundred million dollars in the coming midterm-election cycle, to help preserve the Republican majority in both houses of Congress. But last weekend, somewhat unexpectedly, at a meeting in Colorado Springs, of some five hundred members of this group, all of whom have pledged to contribute at least a hundred thousand dollars annually to the cause, Koch officials attacked Trump, in all but name, as “divisive,” and threatened to start backing Democrats in some midterm races….
On the surface, the cause of the rift is their opposition to Trump’s protectionist trade and immigration policies, which clash with their free-market preferences—and Koch Industries’ bottom line. The policy fight runs deep, reflecting a larger rift in the Republican Party on these issues. Exacerbating tensions, Trump and Charles Koch are both headstrong billionaires who are accustomed to buying, and then getting, their ways. Both were sent to military schools by their parents, after having disciplinary problems at home, and both have high regard for themselves as self-made men, despite both inheriting vast fortunes from their fathers.
Beyond this, both appear to think that the Republican Party in particular, and American politics in general, should be theirs to dominate. Yet, if you parse last weekend’s complaint from Charles Koch carefully, what you see is that his ire wasn’t so much directed at Trump, whom he didn’t name, as at the Republicans in Congress for having fallen in line with the President instead of with him….