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MSNBC: Mark Ames and Yasha Levine
Broke the Koch Brothers' Takeover of America
Class War For Idiots / October 5, 2010
By Yasha Levine



This article was first published on

If tea party candidates were serious about stopping runaway spending and bringing fiscal responsibility to Washington, they would have to address one of the most egregious wastes of taxpayer dollars: federal farm subsidies. These handouts have become little more than taxpayer robbery, sending billions of dollars every year to wealthy “farmers,” even some who do not farm at all. It is not an opportunity the tea party is willing to take.

“Washington paid out a quarter of a trillion dollars in federal farm subsidies between 1995 and 2009, but to characterize the programs as either a ‘big government’ bailout or another form of welfare would be manifestly unfair—to bailouts and welfare,” says Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, a watchdog that tracks federal farm subsidies. “After all, with bailouts taxpayers usually get their money back (often with interest), while welfare recipients are subjected to harsh means-testing, time-limited benefits, and a work requirement. …”

Not so with farm subsidies. Forget about helping struggling farmers—this taxpayer-funded gravy train is skewed primarily toward the rich, paying out billions to “McRanches” and to businesses like Fidelity National Financial, a Fortune 500 company, which got $6.5 million over four years to not farm its land.

If you think such blatant waste would galvanize the tea party, think again.

Truth is, the primary goal of tea party politicians is not to shrink the government, but to use it to transfer taxpayer wealth to rich Republicans. And there is no bigger welfare-for-the-rich program than federal farm subsidies, which have been paying out $20 billion a year to some of the richest—and predominantly Republican-affiliated—people in the country.

With so much money sloshing around, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that tea party politicians have gotten their share.



Take Rep. Michele Bachmann, the self-appointed leader of the tea party movement and recent founder of the Tea Party Caucus, whose stated mission is to promote “fiscal responsibility, adherence to the Constitution and limited government” in the House of Representatives.

But, as I first reported on Truthdig in December 2009, Bachmann’s free-market beliefs do not seem to apply to her own pocketbook. According to federal records compiled by the Environmental Working Group, since 1995 the congresswoman profited from $251,973 in dairy and corn subsidies via a stake in her family’s farm. Bachmann’s financial disclosure forms indicate that her piece of the business earned her a (federally subsidized) income of up to $50,000 in 2008, a nice addition to the $174,000 taxpayer-funded salary she gets as a House member.

Bachmann is not the only tea party subsidy queen. Many of the fresh-faced tea party candidates jockeying for a spot in Congress on a platform of “fiscal responsibility” and “small government” are quite content to allow themselves—and their constituents—to keep feeding at the “big government” trough.

Take Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, the tea party candidate for the U.S. Senate, who has received a stamp of approval from the national tea party network. He paints himself as a simple cotton farmer who wants to “stop runaway spending in Washington that is bankrupting America’s children and grandchildren” and to return the country to its free-market principles.

The Finchers: Peckerwood Socialists

But Fincher fails to mention that he has been on the receiving end of the exact policies he is supposedly campaigning against. According to federal records, the Fincher family has collected more than $6 million in federal farm subsidies since 1995, while Fincher and his wife alone took in $3.2 million. The reason? Because without the cash, his farm would fail, he told The Washington Post.

The subsidies are not just keeping Fincher’s farm afloat, they are also helping fund his political campaign. A tea party activist in Tennessee crunched the numbers and found out that 90 percent of contributions to Fincher’s campaign have come from wealthy farming families that have been the beneficiaries of roughly $80 million in farm subsidies.


Kristi Noem loves wrapping her lips around fat, juicy entitlements

South Dakota’s Republican candidate for the House of Representatives, Kristi Noem, a tea party favorite, is cut from the same tainted cloth. She has benefited from $3.1 million in corn, soybean and wheat subsidies since 1995, but doesn’t display an ounce of shame when she proclaims that government spending poses a “direct threat to our liberty.” Who knows, maybe her lack of a guilty conscience has something to do with the fact that her congressional district is the fourth most subsidized in the U.S., having received $4.26 billion over the past 15 years.

Tea party celebrity Rand Paul, Kentucky’s Republican Senate candidate, learned to tone down his libertarian rhetoric when it comes to farm subsidies—not just because his father-in-law had collected more than $10,000 in subsidies, but, more important, because his constituency includes some of the state’s largest corn and wheat farmers, who have received roughly $2 billion in farm subsidies since 1995. Paul discovered that just because western Kentucky Republicans were voting tea party did not mean they were willing to participate in the free-market experiment.

Even Alaska tea party favorite Joe Miller, who was endorsed by Sarah Palin, became embroiled in a farm subsidy scandal in September when it was discovered that he received roughly $1,000 a year in farm subsidies over a seven-year period for land he owned in Kansas. His excuse? “This was back in the ’90s, the situation the country was in was far different than now,” he said.

And the list of tea party candidates benefiting from farm subsidies goes on and on.

The tea party is supposed to be cleansing the Republican Party of its corrupt big-government tendencies. Well, so much for that. Scratch the surface of these rising tea party stars and you’ll find they are Bush Republicans through and through: They want to cut taxes for the rich and to slash welfare and social spending on the poor, all while funneling farm subsidies to rich Republicans.

If you are wondering why the tea party rank and file allows them to get away with the hypocrisy, then look no further than billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, the ideological and financial backers of the tea party movement. The Kochs have become famous for their generous right-wing philanthropy. Their final goal is, as David Koch once put it, “to minimize the role of government, to maximize the role of private economy and to maximize personal freedoms.”

welfare cadillac charles david koch

Yet, as I uncovered last month, the Koch brothers have made a fortune maximizing their subsidized business assets, seeking out business ventures that have directly benefited from the same big-government policies that they supposedly deplore. On top of the $100 million in government contracts Koch Industries has received since 2000, the company profits from $123 million a year in natural gas subsidized by socialist revolutionary Hugo Chavez through its stake in a state-run Venezuelan fertilizer plant; milks a New Deal-era program that rents out grazing land to ranchers basically without charge; uses public forests as if they were private tree farms for their paper and pulp operations; and, most damning of all, employs the “tyrannical” government power of eminent domain to seize private property from average American citizens to lay oil and gas pipelines for their own personal profit.

In August, Karl Rove predicted that the anti-government message of the tea party movement will cause a voter-turnout tsunami in November’s midterm elections and help Republicans take control of Congress. Maybe Rove is right. But if he is, Americans will be unpleasantly surprised when they learn that tea party Republicans are no different from Bush Republicans: They are against big-government tyranny, unless it’s Republican big-government tyranny.


Yasha Levine is an editor of The eXiled. Levine and Mark Ames first broke the connection between the tea party and the billionaire Koch brothers on in February 2009, sparking lawsuit threats, and causing CNBC’s Rick Santelli to publicly distance himself from the tea party movement and cancel his “Daily Show” appearance.

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Add your own

  • 1. Kyesh  |  October 6th, 2010 at 7:02 am

    America is so screwed. Apparently you have to live in Moscow for a decade before you see it because nobody else in our media has ever talked about this.

  • 2. Stephen  |  October 6th, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Look, I said it once and I’ll say it again. It infuriates me that these Republican fuckers are trying to give themselves a new name, like Tea Party or Libertarian. The simple fact that everyone seemed to say at first, but now doesn’t have the stamina to keep saying, is that the Tea Party is the GOP. Period. They just have to call themselves something different now because the George W. Bush’s presidency exposed in delicious detail all of their inherant contradictions- No government/huge military, no regulations/huge patent-protections for pharma, No Mexicans wanted/Low wages wanted, etc. The Tea Party is just the GOP with a bag over it’s head. It’s a dummy sitting on the lap of the ventriloquist GOP elephant. The sad part is that these people sincerely think they’re doing something new and different. But just as they ignored and glossed over their contradictions when they were Republicans (and they were), they see no problem with starting a new party that says the same thing.

  • 3. John  |  October 6th, 2010 at 11:43 am

    I agree that “Tea Party” is just a Republican attempt to re-brand, but I don’t get why we’re now calling them the “Tea Party” when we had several months of successfully labeling them as what they are: teabaggers. They screech in anger every time we use the word, not only because it is a well-deserved insult, but because it is so accurate in its vivid evocation of what they really are politically: whores who service corporate America. It was a victory for us to get millions of people to refer to the teabaggers as teabaggers; why retreat from it?

    This article was great otherwise.

  • 4. sluce  |  October 6th, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Maybe they’re not contradicting themselves. Maybe all these subsidies are designed to bankrupt and destroy the federal system ushering in the REAL free market.

  • 5. Pete  |  October 6th, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    This is the kind of vicious blood-hatred which only a Jew could produce.

  • 6. Zhu Bajie  |  October 6th, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Yep. If I get a $100/mo in general assistance because I lost my mind in Viet Nam, I’m an evil Welfare bum! But if my cousin get 1/2 million in crop support payments, that’s not Welfare! He deserves it, somehow. Just ask him!

  • 7. thus_speaketh_the_butt_trumpet  |  October 6th, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    #3 – You are wrong, I have had more than one actual little old lady tell me with glee that she’s a “teabagger”.

    #5 – Levine’s writing is Jewcy and delicious, he’s my favorite writer on here (sorry Ames, you’re a very close 2nd). And we come here for hate. Little kids have their sour gummy worms, we have espresso shots and Exiled. Bitter’n’good!

  • 8. Diet Coke  |  October 6th, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Bring back my fungus-infested brain, because I can’t handle stories like this. I prefer whore-r stories instead, because it makes me feel like I’m almost as risky as the author, without actually having to risk myself. Whereas this story makes me realize what an impotent tool I am for sitting passively while the Kochs turn me into a peasant.

  • 9. Strelnikov  |  October 6th, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    My solution to the Teabaggery problem: give them the choice to either be shot in the head or deported to the non-European country of their choice. The Russians scared off the rowdier oligarchs, and let the others destroy each other. We should do the same.

  • 10. teabugger  |  October 7th, 2010 at 6:55 am

    I am happy proud teabagparty member. Good we are will be befor USA#1, go USA, go USA #! wahooo. All morans you communists are what abunch of whiners. Go go quieeny mamma bare grizzly Sara Paylin bagger.
    want good leaders of a good kind vote for the BAGs?

  • 11. Gustavo Arellano  |  October 7th, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    “Peckerwood Socialists”–I’m stealing this line FOREVER.

  • 12. Dammerung  |  October 7th, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    I’m all for ending these subsidies. While we’re at it, let’s cut military spending by 90% and close all our overseas bases. The Tea Party is not a monolithic bloc and it has no leaders (though a few have tried to appoint themselves.) My ass monkey has been after this shit for decades but he still isn’t getting his due. There does exist a strong fiscal conservative movement among homophones, and we’re just as angry as Democrats. Two parties, one system, and it’s going to bankrupt us apart from its ass murder overseas.

  • 13. El chato  |  October 7th, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Tea Baggers are subsidized white middle class pendejos who find it hard to make a living. Tea Babosos are whining 3rd and 4th generation Germans, Irish, Brits and German Americans who no longer can make a living ripping off Blacks, and Mexicans. Los Pinche Tea Baggers are the losers who have squandered the golden calf presented to them by their parents. Tea Sangrones are losers who cry that they want their Country back! That there are too many Mexicans in their dick-ass farm town. Well, guess what! They will never again get their Country back because, ese Raza does not have “EL VIEJO” Santa Ana to lose it again! Hey, if you do not know history, @#(#*$ go learn it. VIVA AMERICA VIVA LA RECONQUISTA. Oh yea, it’s too late to rein in the $$$$TRILLIONS in farm subsidies, the Corporation already owns 75% OF ALL U.S. of A. farmland! “El Chato”

  • 14. Bullshitphilosophy  |  October 8th, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    This past spring, I was desperate enough to take a Census job. I ran into more than a few of these tea party fuck-wits, most refused to answer any of the questions on the grounds that it was unconstitutional, and some kind of Obama/Democrat/socialist/NWO plot. A few would only tell me how many people lived in the house, but refused to provide any other information. This despite the fact that the constitution clearly states that a Census is to be conducted every 10 years — the primary purpose is to apportion representation. I also found out that a red county in Texas had the lowest mail-in return of any place in the US, less than 25%. The sheriff of said county stated publicly that he would arrest Census workers on sight. So, these people believe in the constitution, believe in freedom, and believe in the democratic process, but they refuse to be counted which guarantees that they will be under represented!? Maybe I’m real stupid, but I just can’t wrap my mind around the genius of that.

  • 15. Jack  |  October 9th, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Hey El Chato, some of us peckerwood socialists hate spics, niggers and teabaggers. Your chinga puta raza would still belong to Austria if the US didn’t keep the French from backing up Maximillian. But hey I left dick ass States twenty years ago and never went back so you mofos can go there and do whatever kind of psycho shit you want, kill and rape all those white pendejos and leave their body parts lying around in the street. I’ll watch it on my wide screen tv here in Amsterdam while I smoke some quality herb and drink a good beer laughing like a crazy man.

  • 16. Rich Fader  |  October 9th, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    It appears to be American English, but it makes no sense whatsoever.

  • 17. Arch Stanton  |  October 9th, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    teabugger, Dammerung and El chato: Are you performance artists trying to get discovered? Will you troll for food?

  • 18. thus_speaketh_the_butt_trumpet  |  October 10th, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    The Census IS to be conducted every 10 years and the only Constitutionally mandatory info is the number of people living at a place. I’m sorry, but race, occupation, political leanings, who’s left-handed, all those questions are add-ons and not Constitutionally required. Neither is “painting” the entrances/exits with GPS coordinates, peering around for signs of gardening or other self-sufficiency, nothing the presence or absence of NRA stickers on vehicles, or any of the other busy-body stuff you’re paid $15 an hour to do. Knowing this has nothing to do with being a teabagger.

    As far as I can tell, being a teabagger doesn’t require knowing the Constitution, the basic ideas of the Enlightenment or of modern liberal society, or, apparently, what “teabagging” means. It just requires being white or wanna-be white, and pissed off.

  • 19. Jack  |  October 11th, 2010 at 9:28 am

    I hope this becomes the two sides in America’s cultural wars. Deluded teabagger bitches and total nihilists so disgusted with human society after being assfucked by America’s corrupt institutions that they’re ready to do anything kill themselves murder have sex with animals in public places. I’d join up but I’m living on another continent now so it ain’t so much my problem. Something real big needs to happen in order to truly polarize shit and set it all off. A suicide bombing at a teaparty meeting would be a good start. But not by a moslem or a neonazi a true white trash nihilist who thinks all ideology is shit. Of course the media would try to put some kind of label on him to minimize the impact of his actions.

  • 20. Bullshitphilosophy  |  October 11th, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    @thus_speaketh_the_butt_trumpet Spoken like a true tea-tard. First, the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 2, Clause 3, Sentence 2, reads: “The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct.” Get the last bit? Here it is again. “…in such a manner as they shall by law direct.” Congress is not limited in the information that it requires the Census to obtain except when that information might violate existing Amendments. Second, the only questions I was asking were: Names of occupants, relationship of occupants to each other, DOB, race, whether they owned or rented, and if they were “owners”, with a mortgage or “free and clear”. Third the pay rate for Census workers varied by region. The pay rate ranged from $12/hr in the tea-tard/NASCAR/incest states, to $25/hr in Alaska. I worked in the NYC area and was paid $20/hr. Finally, the only question that caused normal people a problem — normal people defined as not obviously mentally ill, or a patriotard — was the race/ethnicity question. If people got hung up on that question, I told them they didn’t need to answer, I left it blank, and made a note in the comments section that the respondent refused to answer the race question. At no time was I allowed to guess the race or ethnicity of anyone. With a few exceptions, I treated everyone with respect, even when people were sending abuse my way. The only people I fucked with were asshole landlords and property managers. Many landlords/managers were total pricks, despite the fact that they were receiving a large percentage — and in a few cases 100% — of their rent money from Section 8.

  • 21. A Silver Mt. Paektu  |  October 12th, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    The best part about the teabaggers’ ties to or cowardice regarding farm subsidies is their simultaneous embrace of anti-immigrant nativism. Mexico is a largely agrarian nation that has had its farming sector royally fucked by the two-pronged attack of subsidized/dumped staple crops from America and American pressure via the WTO, NAFTA, etc that the Mexican government adhere to trade policy that treats food like any other commodity. At this point it’s basically impossible for Mexican farmers to compete in the marketplace with subsidized American crops. This is why Mexican farmers fire their employees who, in turn, head north for jobs.

    But God forbid you suggest something other than an ecorcement-only approach to illegal immigration to the teabaggers. They want blood and they don’t want to examine their role in the whole mess.

  • 22. freedomdude  |  October 12th, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Its pretty easy to hate the tea partiers when they stand up to feed at the public trough. But their general message opposes the idea of government subsidy and seeks to restore our liberty. I think that most of them want a literal interpretation of the Constitution, which has welfare written so many fucking times I lose count of it. We should welcome a return to liberty and a government that doesn’t pick favorites and that gives real welfare to the people, and not just peckerwood socialist supporters… We should support them in restoring the Constitution and call them out when they don’t meet their own standards. Thanks for the informative article.

  • 23. adolph hitler  |  October 14th, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    yasha, great piece as always….i am impressed with the controversy in the comments section, it reminds me of the old days just a few years back.
    this is the 41st time i have checked on this website for several hours…the reason? total lack of a life!…this commenter is a pale comparison to what I once was. a few years ago I was fresh, young, vibrant, but now all I get are “Cease & Desist” letters the FBI’s pedophilia Dept….why is ames not returning my emails. maybe its because i remember when you were back in russia and you guys were so hot. but that was then and this is now and guys everywhere suck, and i wish i could too…but you are still the best yashia…let me know what other sites you are on so i can follow you…p.s. are you still in victorville and if so whats going on

  • 24. Tom143  |  October 18th, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    It is hilarious to read the comments of you kool aid drinking Socialists. The hate and anger for anyone that has another point of view than yours totally makes sense, because anyone in their right mind should hate listening to fools like myself.
    Sorry to be commenting here, I’m just taking a quick break from licking the deep insides of some billionaire’s ass, cant remember which billionaire, their asses all taste so delicious! I will never go out and do some fact checking but what I do hope is that you spout your hatred and venomous lies. Did you get that? “venomous lies.” Pretty hard-hitting, ain’t I?
    Just an example, Dem. controlled Congress and Farm Subsidy spending greatly increased. Oo, that’s giving you the ol’ one-two, right in the pusser! You survive that yet? Yeah?
    Here’s what makes me a real maverick, it’s really bold of me, so hold on to your seats and read this: Most all politicians on both sides are liars, crooks and thieves. Wow, am I thinking outside the box or what?! It’s like what my dad always used to say to me: Wake up! Time to lick the peanuts out of my ass, Tom143! Put down the kool aid and read The Joy of Incest Sex. My dad, he was such a great guy.

  • 25. lawrence w.  |  October 22nd, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Wow! Real reporting, Refreshing.

  • 26. Fischbyne  |  October 30th, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Congrats, Yasha. This article was listed first on the Bookforum Omnivore page, ahead of Tea Party articles by Time magazine and other monoliths.

  • 27. CaptainMongles  |  November 2nd, 2010 at 8:25 am

    I support the tea party because anything that’s bad for America is good for me.

  • 28. Ron  |  November 3rd, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Oh man! This is the funniest thing watching you people unravel. All you can do is run your mouths and call us names. You have no ideas except to plunge our nation into hate filled factions and agitate. If you want to live the Communist Socialist life go to France or somewhere else where that is working so well….Oh isn’t working anywhere…Sorry, my bad. Take the Keynesian in Chief with you. (BTW Keynesian doesn’t refer to his alleged country of origin, just in case you started calling me a “birther”) Thanks for laughs!

  • 29. CensusLoue  |  November 11th, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    I worked the census too! You could usually tell which houses wouldn’t be cooperative by the large American flags and “Freedom isn’t free” stickers everywhere.

    But we even had teabaggers in our census group! One of them would blather on about how kids these days aren’t taught civics in highschool anymore (uhh…no, we were taught them in middle school) and how we need to “get back to the constitution”.

    I asked him to name 4 amendments.

    “Uhhh…freedom of speech, bear arms,…uhh…you can vote?”

  • 30. Howie Feltersnatch  |  July 18th, 2012 at 12:09 pm


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