Last Friday’s defeat of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) – Republicans’ supposed “replacement” for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – was a decisive victory for progressive activism. All over the country, millions of people turned up at town halls, called and emailed their lawmakers, and made a lot of noise over the glorified millionaire tax break disguised as a health care plan.
In the end, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was forced to admit:
“Obamacare is the law of the land.”
But by the time we were popping champagne and high-fiving each other, President Donald Trump had already handed the billionaire Koch brothers $21 billion.
Charles and David Koch own Koch Industries, the second-largest privately run business in America. They own oil refineries in Texas, Alaska, and Minnesota, and control 4,000 miles of pipeline. According to Forbes Magazine, they are worth $80 billion, and, since last year, have increased their wealth by $12 billion.
According to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.):
“$80 billion in wealth, apparently, is not good enough. Owning the second largest private company in America is, apparently, not good enough. It doesn’t appear that they will be satisfied until they are able to control the entire political process…The agenda of the Koch brothers is to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country.”
Hours before the AHCA went down in the House, Trump announced his State Department had formally approved the Keystone XL Pipeline, a conduit to transport the world’s heaviest, filthiest crude oil from Canada’s tar sands down to Texas to the Gulf of Mexico and loaded onto freighters bound for China.
The Kochs’ political front group, Americans for Prosperity, stated approval of the XL Pipeline is the first priority for the Trump presidency.
Canada sells heavy crude at a $12- to $30-a-barrel discount. If the Keystone Pipeline is complete, the Kochs can benefit from the crude oil accumulated for a $1.27 billion single- year savings. Over time, the various Koch operations will put a minimum of $21 billion into Koch family coffers.
The Freedom Caucus, the Koch-friendly Tea Party faction of the Republican Congress, is largely responsible for nixing the AHCA because the plan did not eliminate enough of the “essential health benefits” the ACA is required to cover.
They pushed for revoking coverage for emergency-room visits and hospital stays, mental health services, maternity care, preventive care, and prescription drug coverage people will may not use. Ironically, some are then crediting the caucus with “saving the ACA.”
However, whether intentional or not, while the public’s eye was trained on the future of President Obama’s signature legislation, President Trump and the Koch brothers were cashing in on something they may not have been able to get away with otherwise, as was the case several years ago when the Keystone Pipeline was first proposed.
The pipeline’s approval coincides with Trump’s elimination of President Obama’s advances on carbon pollution reduction, such as increased automobile fuel standards.
Featured Image: Screenshot Via YouTube Video.