Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) took the lead among Democratic senators Thursday in maligning the billionaire Koch brothers, accusing them of using their clout to block aid to the Ukraine unless Congress puts off IRS rules changes affecting nonprofit institutions such as the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity.
Reid complained, “The Koch brothers continue to hold up the situation we have in Ukraine.” He joined Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in their accusations that the GOP won’t pass a broad Ukraine aid package unless there is a delay in the rules for nonprofits’ participation in the political process.
Schumer boasted that he knows “for a fact” that the GOP has discussed the IRS-Ukraine trade-off. He continued, “This is serious stuff. It’s corrupting our political process. Every day corrupts it more.”
But Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), retorted, “While Sec. Lew noted that the IMF reforms are not necessary on the aid package, the reforms and the provision to prevent the IRS from suppressing free speech have been paired since the debate on last year’s spending bill.” He was echoed by a House GOP source.
The GOP is concerned that the IMF reforms would take billions of dollars out of IMF crisis accounts and relocate them to a general fund, thus allowing other countries to have more sway in how the money is used. An official within the Obama Administration said even though there may be a delay in implementing the aid to Ukraine, “Given our ongoing background work and preparation, a one to two week delay in the approval of the loan guarantee by Congress would not have a meaningful impact on timing.”
Reid seemed to have lost his thesaurus Thursday, repeating over and over that the Koch brothers are “radical:”
When Republican senators rush to defend the Koch brothers, they are also defending the Koch brothers’ radical philosophy. And it’s radical. How do we know it’s radical? They said so. I’m not making those words up. Is even one of you [Republicans] willing to stand up and disavow the Koch brothers’ radical agenda? It’s radical. It’s radical because they say it’s radical. And it is radical. Obviously, they must agree with the Koch brothers’ radical philosophy. Republicans are willing to defend the Koch brothers on the floor of this Senate, but are they willing to defend the Koch brothers’ radical agenda as well?
Unsatisfied with his pathological attack, Reid added that the Koch brothers are “willing to do anything, even exploit Americans suffering from cancer, to advance their campaign of distortion.” Americans for Prosperity has asserted that Obamacare would make a cancer patient’s treatment less affordable, and there is significant evidence that the accusation is true.
McConnell has lambasted Reid for vilifying the Kochs while turning a blind eye to super-rich environmentalist Tom Steyer, who is likely to invest millions of dollars for democrats in 2014. McConnell defended the GOP’s position on nonprofits, saying, “The IRS needs to get out of the speech regulation business altogether, and the Obama administration can do that. This regulation needs to go, and it needs to go now.”