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Palast writes: "When RyanCare-TrumpCare finally ended up face-down in the swimming pool, triumphalist Democrats whooped and partied and congratulated themselves on defeating the Trump-Ryan monstrosity. But deep in their counting house, counting their gold, three brothers cackled with private jubilation."

David and Charles Koch. (photo: Getty)
David and Charles Koch. (photo: Getty)

Billionaires vs. Billionaires: How TrumpCare's Defeat Was Actually a Victory for the Koch Brothers

By Greg Palast, OpEd News

30 March 17


hen RyanCare-TrumpCare finally ended up face-down in the swimming pool, triumphalist Democrats whooped and partied and congratulated themselves on defeating the Trump-Ryan monstrosity.

But deep in their counting house, counting their gold, three brothers cackled with private jubilation.

David and Charles Koch knew the day was theirs.

Joining them in the celebration was Brother Billy, William Koch, who will share in their $21 billion windfall that the President arranged for them only hours before TrumpCare crashed--when Trump announced his State Department had formally approved the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Let's start with that $21 billion.

The XL Keystone Pipeline would take the world's heaviest, filthiest crude from Canada's tar sands, and snake with it all the way down to Texas.

[Watch this clip from The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.]

Now here's a question I never hear from our sleep-walking media: Exactly why are we sending oil all the way across the United States to Texas. I mean, doesn't Texas already have a little oil?

In fact, Texas is drowning in oil, choking in it. But the Kochs' Texas refinery can't use much local crude. The Koch Industries Flint Hills refinery on the Texas Gulf Coast was designed specifically to crack only the world's "heaviest" (i.e. filthiest) crude.

Texas crude ain't heavy enough, ain't dirty enough, for the Kochs' Gulf Coast operation, originally designed for imports for the world's major source of heavy crude: Venezuela. The price the Kochs paid for Venezuela's oil was set by its President Hugo Chavez, and now, by Chavez' chosen successor, Nicolas Maduro.

Chavez and Maduro both told me they'd squeeze the Kochs by their tankers. They have.

Enter the Mounties: Canadians sell their super-heavy crude at a $12 to $30 a barrel discount to the Venezuelan price. If the XL Pipeline is complete, the Kochs can suck down Canada's cheap cruddy crude for a minimum savings of $1.27 billion in a single year.

The Kochs pocket billions while we fry: burning the Canadian tar sands reserve will, all by itself, raise the temperature of the entire planet by 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit.

Over the life of the XL Keystone Pipeline, the various Koch operations will put at minimum, $21 billion in Koch family pockets. Because we have to add in not only Charles' and David's gains, but Brother Billy's windfall as well"

Brother Billy's Filth Factory

The third, lesser-known Koch is Brother William, now principal of Oxbow Carbon. The name itself gives environmentalists the heebee-jeebies.

To keep the tar sands gunk flowing through the Keystone pipeline, the worst of the tar must be extracted and processed as "petcoke," stuff so filthy and toxic it is illegal to burn in the USA. So Billy Koch sells the compressed filth to China and Mexico.

And Billy's bro's have joined the "petcoke" game too. David and Charles' subsidiary, Koch Carbon, already pulls the gunk from the current Keystone pipe where in Detroit it's accumulating in piles bigger than the pyramids. Here's a photo of Koch's coke wafting over Detroit's city parks.

Which explains why the Koch's political front operation, Americans for Prosperity, named approval of the XL Pipeline the number one priority for the Trump presidency.


When TrumpCare breathed its last, the President blamed Democrats for its untimely demise.

A stunned by-stander, Democratic Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, went for it: "We'll take credit for that."

Sorry, Nancy, you can't.

Because it was the Kochs' brownshirts, the self-styled "Freedom Caucus," that, in a bestial assault, crushed a sitting President and their own leader of Congress, Paul Ryan. The thugs' secret weapon: heavy bags of cash, Koch cash.

Kochs front groups, including Americans for Prosperity (the XL promoter, promised unlimited funds to any far-right Congressman who would vote against the bill. The Kochs' Freedom Partners Executive Director told members of the uber-right Congressional Freedom Caucus, "We will stand with lawmakers who keep their promise and oppose this legislation" with a "seven-figure" war chest. In the old days, that was called "bribery." But today it's called, "Koch."

Blow-hard Trump threatened them, but Koch's money protected them.

The Kochs don't want ObamaCare, TrumpCare, nor any care at all for Americans that add to their tax bill. Call it KochDon'tCare.

Billionaires versus Billionaires

But keen observers of TrumpCare would note that it was not really a health care bill, but a tax bill--specifically, a tax cut of some $157 billion that has been charged to the richest Americans to fund ObamaCare through a 3.75% tax on passive investment income--that is, money earned, not by working, but by speculating.

Because behind the public creator of the bill, Speaker Paul Ryan, stood Ryan's number one funder, a billionaire known as The Vulture. The Vulture, aka Paul Singer, makes all his money by nasty methods excoriated even in the Wall Street Journal.

In Trump's weird psycho-babbling press conference last month, he said, "So I want to thank Paul Singer for being here and for coming up to the office." Reporters scratched their head, not knowing who this "Singer" is nor why Trump brought it up.

Now, you know what that was about.

Singer makes all his money from speculation income. The Ryan-Trump "healthcare" bill was first and foremost a tax cut for Singer, likely worth billions to The Vulture (and more to his cohort including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin).

But to the Kochs, this tax break is nearly worthless. So, behind the curtain, this was a fight of billionaires versus billionaires.

The Kochs, having built up their army of useful idiots--the Koch-funded Tea Party and Freedom Caucus, won this one. (Hey, no hard feelings. The Vulture still dines with the Kochs in Vail and donates to their super-PACs.)

Sure, let's breathe a sigh of relief that, with ObamaCare momentarily saved, we won't have more amputees begging in the subway, meth addicts croaking in New Hampshire and my bank account emptied for my next heart surgery.

It's not Trump's victory that portends fascism--it is the bending of Trump by the hands of the poisonously greedy Brothers Koch that brings the fascist corporatist state one day closer.

And that is nothing to celebrate. your social media marketing partner


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+27 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-03-30 09:10
I still see the loss of Ryancare as a loss for the right wing of the republican party. The Teaparty Freedom Caucus may have been the actual strangulators, but all they got for their effort was a continuation of Obamacare. It may be that Ryan's comment that "Obamacare is the law of the land" was a not very subtle kick in the balls of the Teaparty Freedom Caucus. Looks what you did, he seemed to be saying.

I'm not sure what the next assault on Obamacare will be. Likely it will be defunding it in the budget bill. The great vulnerability of Obamacare is its funding mechanism because it relies on cooperation from state governments.

The Repubos will never stop trying to destroy Obamacare. They hate what it does -- extend healthcare to people who cannot afford it on their own. But it was these people who voted for Trump, so destroying Obama care is like pissing in one's own soup. Go ahead, Trump, piss all you like. It is going to be your soup.
+4 # Robbee 2017-03-30 11:58
in Billionaires vs. Billionaires: How TrumpCare's Defeat Was Actually a Victory for the Koch Brothers, palast presumes that - "behind the curtain, this was a fight of billionaires versus billionaires"?? ?

that one swamp of billionaires won, while a different swamp of billionaires did not, does not make this a fight between billionaires!

it only represents clearly that some billionaires can win some tax benefits at the same time that other billionaires do not win other tax benefits

strangely greg's story presupposes that the win of some billionaires has a direct, causal effect of other billionaires not winning corresponding, huge tax breaks - the only relationship between these losers and these winners IS E N V Y !

yes, greg, there is some relationship billionaires share! - they all love tax breaks! - the more the merrier! - just not always the same ones!

the repuke dispute over ryancare is between those who want to repeal, not replace, obamacare - and, on the other hand, those who want to replace obamacare with ryancare

in sum, ryancare has nothing to do with xl pipeline, sorry! - ryancare defeat is a "people bite billionaires!" story - xl pipeline victory is a "billionaires bite people!" story
+6 # kcmwilson 2017-03-30 17:59
These are Billionaires showing us their hearts, thus the perfect name for their health care plan: TRyan Care! k
+1 # randrjwr 2017-03-31 21:48
Quoting kcmwilson:
These are Billionaires showing us their hearts, thus the perfect name for their health care plan: TRyan Care! k

Hearts? How can you show what you don't have?
0 # Skyelav 2017-04-02 17:27
Randrjwr, Tin men all..
-1 # Skyelav 2017-04-02 17:24
Robbee, unfortunately it isn't that simple. The Hillary backers, for instance, want to continue wars to fund themselves, the Koch,and now Mercer who is fighting from within, and others, want to eliminate ALL social services. Those are vastly different ways of governing. There is a serious fight within the Koch group and now that Rockefeller is dead we can presume there is or will be infighting in that faction. Soros wants to be king. Ask any Hungarian. There is a lot more going on with de-regulating, and government contracts etc. Ryan isn't strong enough to lead the Repugs out of the abyss (hold it together during the chaos) That is my opinion. Trump, who hasn't yet been bought or "briefed" is an interesting pivotal figure. His nutty rhetoric is just that. He is learning to deal one item at a time now. That said, unless Koch's capture him, things may be more positive that we all think. My opinion again.
+9 # RMF 2017-03-30 10:45
Yes, it may have been a win for the Kochs, as measured from their extremist right wing perspective.

But it was also a huge win for millions of lower income Americans as well.

And lets not forget the many American constituents showing up at Town Halls, taking the issue directly to their reps, shaming them in those cases where they refused to hold any outreach meetings.

To say it is a win for the Kochs, and stopping there, is an extreme over-simplifica tion in itself.

Moreover, the author is assuming, without proof, that the repeal effort was defeated (exclusively it seems) by the Kochs -- one can just as easily allege it was the action of constituents challenging their reps that deep-sixed the repeal bill. And what about those improving poll numbers for Obamacare -- now with a greater than 50 percent approval rating.

The kind of reporting in this article could benefit from proof in support of it's thesis, proof lacking in this case, at minimum from omission by failing to consider disparate factors influencing the repeal outcome.

Sure, the GOP will be back, perhaps redoubling it's repeal effort, but we fight the GOP reactionary efforts one battle at a time, and this one was a big win for progressives. And Nancy Pelosi is right to claim ownership of a program enacted by the Dems, one with an increasing approval rating, and now under GOP assault. (I saw her remarks for the press -- she did not appear "stunned" to me, jubilant is more fitting word.)
-1 # Skyelav 2017-04-02 17:31
RMF, apparently the Koches called their 30 tea party congress men and told them to vote it down. So yes, single-handedly .
0 # RMF 2017-04-03 11:03
# Skyelav

It's called the Freedom Caucus -- so since you are a big insider expert, omniscient about all that happened behind closed door, then tell us how many of the Caucus voted against the repeal bill -- can't answer that query can you -- which sort of betrays your pretend expert status.

Bare conclusions like yours don't cut it in real debate -- instead an advocate must address real points as raised in rebuttal, something for which poseurs like yourself lack capacity.
+25 # giraffee23 2017-03-30 11:34
The key points that Greg Palast has written and I wish the media would capitalize upon: Trump-care was about big TAX breaks (and not really health care) and that citizens united has allowed the corporate take over of our government and thus (somehow) must be "repealed" and "replaced."

Thanks Greg Palast
+25 # Buddha 2017-03-30 12:19
How can we survive when a significant percent of the American public believes their lives will be better if we allow their air and water to become toxic and we slash healthcare coverage for anybody not rich enough to afford our "boutique-care" system? What we are experiencing today is what happens when half of a nation care more about propaganda ideology peddled by self-enriching oligarchs than facts.

But you know, I'm almost done caring. If you look at the stuff being pushed, it almost exclusively is going to directly hurt those living in Red States. Keystone will pollute the ground-water for those fly-over Red States. A pure for-profit healthcare system will never have corporations run hospitals in more rural low-population areas (which almost always are GOP dominated) where less "customers" and thus profits are possible. Allowing coal waste to be dumped directly into the watershed will of course sicken GOP voters in Appalachia far more than me in California. More tax cuts for billionaires in their Red states will further slash their schools and infrastructure. If these rubes are so determined to impoverish and sicken themselves so the Kochs can be richer, then they deserve everything coming to them. At this point, all I am really caring about is that "deportation force" busting in the doors of brown people, and how fast it becomes a Gestapo that cattle-car rounds up the rest of us "enemies" of The Oligarchic State.
+3 # mh1224jst 2017-04-01 19:47
You're right. There is great paranoia underlying all of this. Meanwhile the rich keep sucking up the wealth and destroying the planet - and it won't stop until they, too, lose everything. Wealth breeds insanity, somehow - I can't think of a better explanation.
0 # Skyelav 2017-04-02 17:35
Buddah, how sad. Good points.
+8 # Shaas 2017-03-30 13:29
In all their ranting against Trump, Democrats and others do act blind to his promise of ending wars around the world which have been started and continued by Bush and Obama.

The last sentence of htis article is important:
It's not Trump's victory that portends fascism--it is the bending of Trump by the hands of the poisonously greedy Brothers Koch that brings the fascist corporatist state one day closer.

And that is nothing to celebrate.
+12 # Jim Rocket 2017-03-30 16:10
Trump will not be ending any wars. If he starts talking like that it will be explained to him how much money swamp creatures make from the arms business and he will back right off. Sad!
+6 # ericlipps 2017-03-30 17:49
Poor, misunderstood Donald! Democrats, stop picking on this progressive hero who wants to usher in world peace.

Are you serious? Well, if you are, I have great news! I live in New York, you see, and there's this bridge . . .
0 # Skyelav 2017-04-02 18:07
Eric, you think he will continue the vast military robbery? You're probably right.
+5 # kcmwilson 2017-03-30 17:54
This Ain't that difficult folks: Trump/Ryan pretend health care = TRyan Care! Fits Perfectly eh? k
+6 # CDMR 2017-03-31 14:25
Here's an interesting article by Lee Fang over at the Intercept. He writes that many republicans never wanted to repeal Obamacare. They only voted to repeal it as a party solidarity move when it did not matter because Obama would veto the repeal. Now that they have a real chance to repeal Obamcare, they won't take a vote. The know Obamacare really matters but they can't say that openly.

I think Lee Fang is right. What hypocrites these republicans are.
0 # LionMousePudding 2017-03-31 18:03
When your side wins and one of your enemies wins too, don't let that make you feel you lost. Would we prefer that we lost just to spite the Koch brothers?

I would change "actually" to "also." It is unnecessary to pretend that we lost if the Kochs gained. Don't we have enough losses to depress us? No reason to create a new one.
+1 # tm7devils39 2017-04-01 02:17
At some point in time, the American people will have to realize, that to get their country back, they will have to, literally, cut the heads off all the snakes. I doubt that we will reach that time. Like the old saying goes: Old age(with money) and treachery will overcome youth and skill.

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