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LISTEN: Billionaire Charles Koch Says He's Behind On Political Spending

The organization of donors led by Charles Koch (above) and his brother David has vowed to spend $889 million to influence the 2016 election. Yet he suggested to NPR he is merely playing defense, not offense.
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The organization of donors led by Charles Koch (above) and his brother David has vowed to spend $889 million to influence the 2016 election. Yet he suggested to NPR he is merely playing defense, not offense.

Charles Koch says he's not really spending all that much on politics. As one of the billionaire Koch brothers, Koch has made massive infusions of money to political causes — some of it in direct contributions to candidates, and much of it through support for think tanks and other political groups. The organization of donors led by Charles and his brother David has vowed to spend $889 million to influence the 2016 election.

Yet in an interview with NPR, Charles Koch suggested he is merely playing defense, not offense. The libertarian-leaning industrialist said he is outspent.

In an audio clip from the interview, Koch suggests his opponents spend trillions. Here is how Koch arrives at this figure: He assumes that any number of tax deductions and government benefits are not really deductions and benefits; he sees them as campaign spending, designed to buy off voters and corporations so they will favor an active United States government. Koch does not favor that.

His claim is sure to raise eyebrows. The Koch organization actually spends so generously that it is believed to rival the official Republican Party in its importance. But the notion that government benefits are essentially bribes offers a clue to Koch's view of the world. Koch insists he opposes tax breaks and subsidies that are backed by both political parties. He says he even opposes subsidies that bring extra profits to companies within his Koch Industries empire.

Koch made these points while discussing his book Good Profit, which lays out his philosophies of business and politics. The full interview was broadcast on NPR's Morning Edition, and can be heard above. Listen to this key portion:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Steve Inskeep
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.

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