In January 2015, brothers Charles and David Koch announced that they would donate nearly $ 900 million, or about € 760 million, to the 2016 US election campaign, a small injection of money for Republican Party candidates. However generous – the Koch brothers are not fans of the Republicans. On American television, older brother Charles defined his relationship with the party as follows:
“I see it this way: the Democrats drive 160 things over the financial cliff into a broken society, the Republicans only drive 110.”
The Kochs’ political ideas can also be summarized as follows; The state should stay out of it. They don’t believe in general health insurance or a minimum wage, they want less taxes and no environmental protection requirements – because they only disrupt their business. The Kansas brothers own Koch Industries, the second largest privately held company in the United States. The group includes chemical factories and cattle farms, oil refineries and thousands of kilometers of pipelines; Around 120,000 employees manufacture a myriad of products, from asphalt and fertilizer to toilet paper.
With an estimated net worth of over 41 billion euros each, Charles and David Koch are among the richest people in the world. And they use their money to shape the United States according to their libertarian agenda – not just with generous campaign donations. Since the 1970s, the Kochs have built up a huge network that disseminates their market-radical ideas. Critics call the confusing network of lobby groups, think tanks, sponsored chairs, foundations, and associations the “cooking top”, ie an octopus. One tentacle builds political activists – the Kochs have pumped millions into the right-wing tea party movement – the other tentacle produces research results that benefit them. The Kochs not only managed to sow doubts about the existence of man-made climate change but also ultimately contributed to the United States withdrawing from the Paris climate protection agreement. Over the years, the Republican Party and the Koch brothers have come closer and closer together.
They are by no means the only Americans who exert political influence with their wealth. But the dimensions of the Koch brothers’ influence are unique; there is no comparable organization on the part of the Democrats. In general, most multimillionaires and billionaires tend to support the Republicans. However, the Democrats also have extremely wealthy large donors, such as the investor George Soros.
How much power people with a lot of money have in American politics is also evident from who actually holds the important offices. President Donald Trump has gathered a cabinet of millionaires and billionaires around him: bankers, investors, hedge fund managers. When Trump named the first 17 candidates for his government in December 2016, an American online magazine calculated that the elect would total $ 9.5 billion in assets. That is more than the poorest 43 million US households put together who desperately take out loans from private companies like Loose Lending (https://looselending.com/). The Center for Responsive Politics also showed three years ago that members of Congress have long been much wealthier than the average American, and in 2013 more than half of them were millionaires for the first time.