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The Republican Party: By and For the Koch Brothers

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monopoly-man

Republicans are paying back their megadonors:

The House on Wednesday with little fanfare passed legislation that would protect major donors like the Koch brothers and Tom Steyer from having to pay gift taxes on huge donations to secret money political groups.

The legislation, which now heads to the Senate, is seen by fundraising operatives as removing one of the few remaining potential obstacles to unfettered big-money spending by nonprofit groups registered under a section of the Tax Code — 501(c) — that allows them to shield their donors’ identities.\\

Critics decry such groups as corrupting, but they have played an increasingly prominent role in recent elections, and they’re expected to spend huge sums in 2016.

And, while fundraising operatives say most donors do not pay taxes on their donations to so-called 501(c) groups, the law is somewhat ambiguous on whether gift taxes could be assessed. That’s left donors fearing that such gifts could bring scrutiny from the Internal Revenue Service — which, in fact, has launched probes of major groups’ donors in recent years to determine whether they improperly avoided paying gift taxes.

I guess the advantage of buying a house of Congress means that you can dictate legislation that will protect your future investments in buying the rest of the government.

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  • …would protect major donors like the Koch brothers and Tom Steyer…

    Gotta get that balance in! After all, I’m sure the House Republicans are looking out for Tom Steyer (who I’m not sure even runs much if any of his money through particularly dark sources).

    • Phil Perspective

      I’m sure the House Republicans are looking out for Tom Steyer (who I’m not sure even runs much if any of his money through particularly dark sources).

      And Steyer gets a shitty return on the money he spends. Just like unions!!

      • los

        i haven’t checked, but was 2014 Steyer’s first big splurge? have previous splurges paid off better?

        One Steyer accomplishment: “Soros who?”

  • c u n d gulag

    You can’t have an effective representative democracy, if your representatives are for sale.

    Which, of course, is the GOP dream.
    And, truth be told – since I hate the he-said/she-said routines of our MSM – but it’s also the dream for too many Democrats, too – I’m lookin’ atchyou, Andrew Cuomo!

  • c u n d gulag

    You can’t have an effective representative democracy, if your representatives are for sale.

    Which, of course, is the GOP dream.
    And, truth be told – since I hate the he-said/she-said routines of our MSM – but it’s also the dream for too many Democrats, too – I’m lookin’ atchyou, Andrew Cuomo!

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Republicans in Congress support the bill; Democrats, on the other hand, are “not unified in their support of the bill.”

    Welcome to our two-party system.

    • Murc

      Charlie Stross once posited something over at his place that, while it was specifically about the UK, I think has a lot of relevance to the US as well. The main thrust was that the UK actually has four major political parties; Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Ruling.

      Let me quote:

      The Ruling Party is a meta-party; it has members in all of the three major parties, and probably the minority parties as well. It always wins every election, because whichever party wins (or participates in a coalition) is led in Parliament by members of the Ruling Party, who have more in common with each other than with the back bench dinosaurs who form the rump of their notional party. One does not rise to Front Bench rank in any of the major parties unless one is a paid-up Ruling Party member, who meets with the approval of the Ruling Party members one will have to work with. Outsiders are excluded or marginalized, as are followers of the ideology to which the nominal party adheres.

      You could sub out the UK-specific stuff there for US-specific stuff and it would be as equally true for us as it is for them.

      • LosGatosCA

        Larry Summers was even more concise –

        After dinner, “Larry leaned back in his chair and offered me some advice,” Ms. Warren writes. “I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People — powerful people — listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders.

        Yup – want to be in the club, er Ruling Party, or as they call it in Tuscaloosa, the Machine?

        You must pay it respect.

        • Hogan

          Petyr Baelish couldn’t have said it better.

        • Rob in CT

          That’s it exactly.

      • los

        Known in the USA — soon worldwide — as the Koch Party

    • joe from Lowell

      In context, that appears to me an error, and it should read “Democrats are not unified in their opposition to the bill.”

      The next few sentences go on to discuss Democratic opposition, and the opposition of the White House and Democratic Congressional leadership is mentioned near the end.

      Which is actually a much more representative welcome to our two party system – a unified Republican position opposed by a Democratic Party that suffers defections.

      • postmodulator

        We could primary Democrats from the left, if America had better leftists. (I.e., the kind that show up at the polls.)

        • DAS

          The media plays a key role here,too. The Club for Growth used primaries to yank the GOP to the right, and even the liberal NPR responded by inviting Stephen Moore onto panels discussing politics and policy. But the same, popularly considered liberal, outlets that feted Steve Moore, had a collective freak out about 501(c) organizations as soon as progressives discovered them

        • los

          the kind less beat into submission by ‘Teh Librool Media’

          • los

            beaten

        • joe from Lowell

          We could primary Democrats from the left, if America had better leftists. (I.e., the kind that show up at the polls.)

          The thing is, virtually all of these defectors come from places like Arkansas and Missouri, where the best leftist turnout in history isn’t going to win a primary.

          Someone like Diane Feinstein could, in theory, be primaried and lose to someone a step or two to her left. (Not at this point, when she’s an institution, but a younger but similarly-situated figure), but even though she’s somewhat more conservative than the electorate would suggest, people like here are generally not the problem.

          It’s the Landrieus and Pryors and Evan Bayhs.

          • Rob in CT

            I figure getting Chris Murphy in place of Joe Lieberman was a big win. I’m not sure about Blumenthal vs. Dodd.

            Didn’t somebody create a chart that estimated the variance between a given congresscritter and their district/state? You go to that chart, find the Dems who are the farthest Right of their constituents, and primary them. Primarying a Dem who kinda sucks because they represent a conservative district is dumb.

            edit:

            http://primarycolors.net

            • joe from Lowell

              I’m not sure I understand your CT examples, as demonstrations of the utility of primaries.

              Dodd wasn’t beaten in a primary. Neither was Lieberman – he was reelected when he was primaried, then retired after the next term. Chris Murphy never ran against him.

              • Rob in CT

                Sorry, I was unclear.

                I started off just thinking about recentish changes in my representation, in a very blue state. Basically, CT could do better than Lieberman, and we have. Eventually.

                Dodd -> Blumenthal had zero connection to any primarying.

                I do think Lieberaman’s retirement might have been driven by his defeat in the primary, subsequent reelection with substantial GOP votes, and everything that followed from that. If he had been, instead, a Dem in good standing, maybe he runs again? Hard to know.

                • Rob in CT

                  From wiki (take it for what it’s worth):

                  Retirement[edit]

                  A survey in October 2010 showed that Lieberman had an approval rating of 31% and that just 24% of Connecticut voters felt he deserved re-election.[49] Senator Lieberman announced on January 19, 2011 that he would retire from the Senate at the end of his fourth term.[50][51] Lieberman gave his farewell address on December 12, 2012.[52] He was succeeded by Democratic representative Chris Murphy.

                  Following his retirement from the Senate, Lieberman became senior counsel of the white collar criminal defense and investigations practice at a law firm in New York City.[53] In March 2013, it was announced that Lieberman would be joining the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank as co-chairman of their American Internationalism Project, alongside former Republican Senator Jon Kyl.[54] In February 2014, Lieberman was named as Counselor at the National Bureau of Asian Research.[55] Additionally, he serves as the Lieberman Chair of Public Policy and Public Service at Yeshiva University, where he teaches an undergraduate course in political science.

                  AEI. Of course. Asshole.

          • DAS

            On the principle of what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, which “moderate Republicans” did reactionaries consider to be especially troublesome? Whom did the Club for Growth, for example, focus on primarying? Did they primary Republicans in places like New Jersey or Massachusetts where conventional wisdom might have said that the best rightist turnout wouldn’t have won a primary or did they primary conservative Republicans in reactionary districts?

            • Hogan

              Arlen Specter, for one.

              • Jordan

                What? Didn’t Specter switch parties, and then lose in the primary to a Democrat?

                /eta: ahh, but Toomey then lost to Toomey, so the idea is that CfG (or whatever) scared Specter away, and then CfG got their man in.

    • DAS

      Note also that the bill, having both GOP and Democratic support is “bipartisan” while it is opposed by a “f(r)action” of Democrats “who are too extreme for some members of their own party”. I.e. by being relentlessly and utterly partisan and disciplined in their partisanship, the GOP gets to appear “bipartisan” while liberal Democrats get to be a rump faction in opposition to a bipartisan coalition. At least this is how “even the liberal media” gets to spin it.

      • los

        ‘Ignorance is strength’

  • Derelict

    I guess the advantage of buying a house of Congress means that you can dictate legislation that will protect your future investments in buying the rest of the government.

    It’s been this way for a long time. John Boehner first came to prominence by walking the House floor and handing checks to representatives in exchange for their votes. The ALEC group actually writes “suggested” or “model” legislation that Congress and state legislatures can pass by just filling in the blanks. Hell, Jack Abramoff used to write bills tailored to his client’s need, then hand those bills to congressional staffers who would mark it up, then hand it to their bosses.

    Nothing new under the sun–they’re just trying to make it more profitable, is all.

    • Phil Perspective

      The ALEC group actually writes “suggested” or “model” legislation that Congress and state legislatures can pass by just filling in the blanks. Hell, Jack Abramoff used to write bills tailored to his client’s need, then hand those bills to congressional staffers who would mark it up, then hand it to their bosses.

      Have you been asleep these past few years? I know GOPers in several states have been caught filing ALEC bills word-for-word.

      • That’s exactly what the part you quoted said. If you’re going to be insulting, you should at least try to make sense.

        • los

          maybe suggesting that some GOPers hadn’t been smart enough to fill in the blanks?

          • There was a hilarious case in February where Florida state rep. Rachel Burgin submitted a bill without deleting ALEC’s mission statement from the text, which was just hanging there under the first Whereas.

            • los

              David Koch immediately called ALEC HQ, “Heads will roll for this!”

  • Yankee

    Isn’t it wonderful that we have a uniform tax code, which lets people concentrate their asset retention strategies with a minimum of diversity. Rich people AND poor people, be it noted.

  • DAS

    According to the SCOTUS, it’s not corruption unless there is an explicit quid pro quo. So contributing $$ to elect Congresscritters who then exempt you from taxes, saving you $$$$$ is not corruption but if an opthamologist who is your friend gives you gifts and then you push legislation that is good for him, that is corruption.

    I wonder if Bob Menendez’s attorneys will argue the case should be thrown out, though, unless the Feds can explicitly show a quid pro quo. However, I note that the relevant SCOTUS rulings address the issue from the donors’ end: it is not illegal (but rather protected free speech) to donate $$ or otherwise bribe politicians and expect (and receive) preferential access and favorable treatment so long as there is no explicit quid pro quo. OTOH, neither Citizens United nor Sun Diamond address the issue of accepting such payments, do they?

    Nu? If Menendez’s attorneys argue that “SCOTUS says it’s not bribery unless there is explicit quid pro quo and the prosecutors don’t have direct evidence of explicit quid pro quo so they have no case”, could the Feds then argue “well Salomon Melgen is not guilty according to Sun Diamond, etc., but since those cases only address donors, they do not apply”? I.e. is it possible for it to be legal to bribe someone but not legal to accept the bribe?

    • los

      freedom of speech without freedom of listening?
      giving speech is holy, but accepting speech is shariah law?
      jebus gave bribes, but nevr took bribes…?

      • los

        ‘never’

    • I.e. is it possible for it to be legal to bribe someone but not legal to accept the bribe?

      The other way around almost happened in Israel, I believe, in 2004 when David Appel was charged with paying enormous bribes to Ariel Sharon and his sons but the Sharons were not charged with receiving the money, due to “lack of evidence”. But Appel had bribed enough people that they managed to put him away without hearing the Sharon evidence and those charges went away.

  • Davis

    They also just voted to eliminate the estate tax. I am still amazed that they have managed to move the public opinion needle on this through bald faced lies.

    • efgoldman

      I am still amazed that they have managed to move the public opinion needle on this through bald faced lies.

      Why?
      No matter how corrupt or mendacious your position, if you repeat it in lockstep. don’t allow any apostasy, and say it loudly enough and often enough, almost anything will take hold.
      “The big lie” is not new, nor is it reserved for totalitarian societies.
      Orwell weeps.

      • los

        Goebbels giggles
        Stalin smirks
        Fred C Koch cackles

    • Rob in CT

      I actually thought this post was about the estate tax repeal bill at first.

      The already-weak estate tax has to go, eh. Note that nothing is ever, ever enough with these people. Give an inch and they will be back for the mile.

      GOP delenda est.

  • Why should they pay gift tax? These are clearly business expenses. I’m surprised they aren’t claiming deductions for depreciation.

    • efgoldman

      I’m surprised they aren’t claiming deductions for depreciation.

      Congresscritters don’t depreciate with time. Just the opposite, in fact. Yertle the Turtle or Grandpa Walnuts is worth ten Tom Cottons or Jodi Ernsts.

      • postmodulator

        With notably rare exceptions. For instance, Boehner is basically dying in front of us.

        • los

          Isn’t Ronald Reagan™ still appreciating?

  • cpinva

    “The legislation, which now heads to the Senate, is seen by fundraising operatives as removing one of the few remaining potential obstacles to unfettered big-money spending by nonprofit groups registered under a section of the Tax Code — 501(c) — that allows them to shield their donors’ identities.\\”

    Sect. 501(c)what? there are multiple entities within Sect. 501(c), which specific one are we talking about here? it raises an interesting point though, which I’d never really considered before:

    are donations to exempt orgs subject to the gift tax?

    I have no idea, but I would make an educated guess that they aren’t. that would be defeating part of the purpose of becoming a 501(c) entity to begin with: not only are you not subject to federal income tax, but the donor gets to reduce their tax liability by deducting the donation on their Sch. A, as an itemized deduction, subject to certain limitations. having to file a gift tax return and possibly pay taxes on it, makes donating far less attractive.

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