More than 1,000 activists, including members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU), AFSCME, Health Care for America Now (HCAN) and Common Cause, helped shine a big spotlight on a closed-door gathering of right-wing billionaires and extreme conservative leaders and politicians in Palm Springs yesterday.
The strategy meeting was organized by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch who have been instrumental in orchestrating the tea party movement and funding much of the modern right-wing infrastructure.
Past participants in the secret conclave have included media personalities like Glenn Beck, members of Congress and Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.
The event has taken on even greater importance in light of the Supreme Court’s 2010 “Citizens United” decision, which enabled the Kochs and their allies to spend unlimited resources on the 2010 elections. The lawmakers they helped elect are backing a corporate agenda that includes repealing health care and Wall Street reform, privatizing Social Security and rolling back worker and consumer protections.
Speaking at the rally, CNA/NNU Co-President DeAnn McEwen said:
I want to zero in on Medicare and Social Security, as these are programs that the Koch brothers want to destroy. A key threat in the secret political history of the Kochs has been their opposition to the Social Security and Medicare programs. We speak out because our patients rely on these programs. The Koch brothers’ agenda is most definitely a death panel agenda.
The Koch brothers, heirs to the oil and chemical conglomerate Koch Industries, have founded or funded dozens of conservative or libertarian publications, think tanks and attack groups, according to an investigative piece by The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer. Their father, Fred Koch, similarly fueled the paranoid right-wing movements of the 1950s and 1960s through his financing of the John Birch Society.
As HCAN Executive Director Ethan Rome said:
The American Dream is being stolen by big corporations and billionaires like the Koch brothers [who] are spending outrageous sums to elect Republicans, including tea party extremists….Their agenda is to deregulate insurance companies, polluters, banks and mortgage companies so they can run roughshod over the middle class.
Check out the news coverage from the rally:
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