Harry Reid’s tough talk on the super-rich Koch brothers is getting rave reviews from the editorial board of the New York Times.
Democrats have for too long been passive in the face of the vast amounts of corporate money, most of it secret, that are being spent to evict them from office and dismantle their policies. By far the largest voice in many of this year’s political races, for example, has been that of the Koch brothers, who have spent tens of millions of dollars peddling phony stories about the impact of health care reform, all in order to put Republicans in control of the Senate after the November elections.
Now Democrats are starting to fight back, deciding they should at least try to counter the tycoons with some low-cost speech of their own. Democrats may never have the same resources at their disposal — no party should — but they can use their political pulpits to stand up for a few basic principles, including the importance of widespread health-insurance coverage, environmental protection and safety-net programs.
The Times noted that Reid has been the most vociferous opponent to the Kochs, the GOP benefactors who are poised to pour a ton of money into this year’s midterm races.
Mr. Reid’s comments have gone to the heart of the matter. In his most recent speech, he pointed out that the fundamental purpose of the Kochs’ spending is to rig the economic system for their benefit and for that of other oligarchs. They own an industrial network that ranks No. 14 on the list of the most toxic American air polluters, and got their money’s worth in 2010 by helping elect a Republican House majority that has resisted environmental regulation.
Reid told reporters last week that it’s a fight he relishes, despite warnings to avoid taking on the Kochs.
“I’ve been told by lots of people, ‘Don’t pick a fight. They’re wealthy. They’re very vengeful.’ But without sounding too melodramatic, if not me, then who?” Reid said. “I am after the two [Koch] brothers. They are two people who are trying to buy America. They have the money to do it.”
He warned donors this week that the brothers could end the party’s majority in the Senate, an omen that the Times echoed.
What the Kochs want — and polls show they have a strong chance of getting it — is a Senate led by Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, now the minority leader, who promises in his latest campaign ad to “be the leader of the forces that take on the war on coal,” the most polluting power-plant fuel. Nothing could be better for the owners of Koch Carbon, and they are willing to spend whatever it takes to make it happen. But they are finally encountering some resistance.