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Kochs to Kooks: Lay Off Obamacare!

David Callahan

If you believe a statement from Koch Industries, the Koch brothers never supported the effort to defund Obamacare by holding government operations and the debt ceiling hostage. 

According to the Times, Koch Industries

sent a letter to the Senate stating that they did not support the effort led by Heritage Action to force the partial closing of federal government as a way to eliminate funding for the health care program.


“We want to set the record straight and correct this misinformation,” the letter said.

I believe this. After all, defunding brinksmanship was obviously a bad idea and has turned out pretty much as expected: It's been a disaster for the GOP, sending its poll numbers to the lowest levels ever recorded, according to a recent survey. Just 24 percent of Americans approve of the Republican Party and people blame the GOP more than Democrats for the shutdown by a 22-point margin. 

Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-funded group, is arguing -- and here's a radical idea -- that the best strategy for killing Obamacare is a long-term effort to win elections and put enough conservatives in power to scrap it. "Whether you like it or not, it’s the law,” said one Koch ally. “And if you don’t like it, elect people who can repeal it.” 

It's nice that somebody remembers how democracy is supposed to work. 

But it's truly galling to hear the Kochs telling the kooks to knock it off. After all, these are the same big donors -- along with major business groups, as I noted yesterday -- who have spent tens of millions of dollars fanning right-wing grassroots hysteria about Obamacare. Among other things, as the Times noted recently, a Koch-backed group gave

$5 million to Generation Opportunity, which created a buzz last month with an Internet advertisement showing a menacing Uncle Sam figure popping up between a woman’s legs during a gynecological exam.

A deep and irrational fear of Obamacare among base conservative voters is a key reason that Tea Party legislators have felt license to push defunding to the brink. They speak for many of their constituents and know they won't face retaliation at home for these actions. That license, along with fear of deep-pocketed donors financing primary challenges, explains why the kamikaze caucus would push things so far. 

Along with big business, the Koch brothers help create the monster that has been terrorizing Washington. And only now do they seem to be waking up to that fact.