- The Washington Times - Friday, February 19, 2016

Charles Koch, the billionaire Koch Industries co-founder who is often the target of attacks by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, says he and the Vermont senator actually agree on one thing: corporate welfare.

In an op-ed for The Washington Post, the libertarian philanthropist wrote that even though he and Mr. Sanders don’t see eye-to-eye on much, they both agree that the system is often “rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, particularly the least advantaged.”

“He believes that we have a two-tiered society that increasingly dooms millions of our fellow citizens to lives of poverty and hopelessness,” Mr. Koch wrote. “He thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunities and a level playing field.

“I agree with him,” he declared. “Democrats and Republicans have too often favored policies and regulations that pick winners and losers. This helps perpetuate a cycle of control, dependency, cronyism and poverty in the United States. These are complicated issues, but it’s not enough to say that government alone is to blame. Large portions of the business community have actively pushed for these policies.

“Consider the regulations, handouts, mandates, subsidies and other forms of largesse our elected officials dole out to the wealthy and well-connected,” Mr. Koch continued.

“Whenever we allow government to pick winners and losers, we impede progress and move further away from a society of mutual benefit. This pits individuals and groups against each other and corrupts the business community, which inevitably becomes less focused on creating value for customers. That’s why Koch Industries opposes all forms of corporate welfare — even those that benefit us.”

Mr. Koch said he also agrees with Mr. Sanders on the criminal justice system, which he argued is in “dire need” of reform.

“Families and entire communities are being ripped apart by laws that unjustly destroy the lives of low-level and nonviolent offenders,” he wrote.

However, Mr. Koch made it clear that he is not “feeling the Bern.”

“I applaud the senator for giving a voice to many Americans struggling to get ahead in a system too often stacked in favor of the haves, but I disagree with his desire to expand the federal government’s control over people’s lives. This is what built so many barriers to opportunity in the first place,” he wrote. “It is results, not intentions, that matter. History has proven that a bigger, more controlling, more complex and costlier federal government leaves the disadvantaged less likely to improve their lives.

“I don’t expect to agree with every position a candidate holds, but all Americans deserve a president who, on balance, can demonstrate a commitment to a set of ideas and values that will lead to peace, civility and well-being rather than conflict, contempt and division,” Mr. Koch concluded. “When such a candidate emerges, he or she will have my enthusiastic support.”


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