Report: Billionaire Kochs Peddled Job-Killing Free Trade Agenda to Democrats

Vietnam says committed to 'free and fair' trade after Trump tariff threat
MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images

The pro-mass immigration Koch brothers, mega-donors to the GOP establishment, helped market endless free trade policies to Democrat politicians, a new book details.

A report by the Intercept outlines a recently released book titled Kochland by Christopher Leonard where the author alleges that brothers Charles and David Koch funded a 2007 report by the left-wing Third Way organization to warn Democrat politicians against the populist, economic nationalist arguments made by Lou Dobbs at the time.

The Intercept’s Ryan Grim and Andrew Perez report:

While Third Way’s report did not note any funding from Koch Industries or any related companies or organizations, it did offer thanks to Rob Hall, then a lobbyist for Koch Industries’ Invista division, “for his support in helping us conceive of and design Third Way’s trade project,” adding credence to Leonard’s claim that the Kochs were behind the effort. Hall was previously a Koch executive. The report also added: “The authors offer their sincerest thanks to Third Way’s Board of Trustees for their continuing intellectual support of Third Way and in particular for providing several of the key initial insights on which this paper is built.” Third Way’s board of trustees is a who’s who of Wall Street and corporate elites. [Emphasis added]

The paper argues that “neopopulists” like Dobbs were on the rise because Americans didn’t have faith in arguments made by free traders. Polls showed that people believed that “open trade,” as Third Way dubbed it, cost jobs, only benefited major corporations, made the U.S. weaker globally, and that trade barriers and tariffs were good policies that protected jobs. The argument on behalf of free trade, the report said, hadn’t taken into account the struggles of the middle class. “Our policies” — in favor of free trade — “do nothing to restore middle-class confidence in the future,” the report noted correctly. “Middle-class economic anxiety is widespread and legitimate. And fairly or not, much of the blame for this anxiety is landing squarely on trade.” [Emphasis added]

Though aligned for the last few decades with Republican lawmakers, the Kochs were major supporters of the economic policies of the Obama administration which sought to enter the U.S. into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which would have made it easier for multinational corporations to outsource additional American jobs to Vietnam and Malaysia.

American workers under TPP would have been forced to compete against workers in Vietnam and Malaysia — workforces that in some cases earn less than 60 cents an hour — thus forcing down U.S. wages.

In that effort, the Koch network spent up to $40 million lobbying for TPP before President Donald Trump took office on his economic nationalist platform and kept his promise in 2017 to kill the free trade deal with an executive order.

Most recently, the Koch network has committed to financially backing politicians, of either party, in upcoming 2020 elections who support their agenda of free trade-at-all-costs and amnesty for illegal aliens, as Breitbart News reported.

The free trade agenda has taken a stronghold on the Democrat Party in the 2020 Democrat presidential primary. A June poll by Civiqs/Daily Kos found that while Republican voters are overwhelmingly supportive of tariffs on foreign imports to protect American industries, 80 percent of Democrat voters took the pro-free trade position, calling tariffs “bad” for the economy.

This pro-free trade Democrat sentiment has been reflected in the 2020 Democrat presidential primary where candidates such former Vice President Joe Biden have defended the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which helped eliminate about five million manufacturing jobs and shutter 70,000 U.S. manufacturing plants.

Likewise, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has railed against Trump’s tariffs on China, using the false claim often deployed by free traders that tariffs are taxes on American consumers when in actuality, tariffs are fees placed on corporations which manufacture their products abroad instead of in the U.S.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.

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