Charles Koch, who runs Koch Industries and contributes to political groups and campaigns, said he will launch a new campaign on Wednesday to laud economic freedom and warn the public about government overreach.
He knows this means he will again draw fire from political critics. His memory of the 2012 political campaign is still fresh. People said he tried to buy elections, and he recalls critics calling him names.
Evil Koch brother, he said. Greedy and stuff.
In that campaign, conducted mostly out of the limelight, he spent millions (he has not said how much) helping 2012 candidates oppose President Obama and support conservative and libertarian economic policies.
The effort beginning this week will cost the Charles Koch Foundation about $200,000 and run as a media campaign in Wichita for four weeks, he said. If people like it, he said, he might expand it to other cities.
The point of it, Koch said, is that he believes prosperity grows where economic freedom is greatest, where government intervention in business affairs is kept to a minimum. He hopes his ideas will help the country grow, he said. In his interview he emphasized several times that he believes his ideas on economics will help disadvantaged people. Government regulations including the minimum wage law tend to hold everyone back, he said.
We want to do a better job of raising up the disadvantaged and the poorest in this country, rather than saying Oh, were just fine now. Were not saying that at all. What were saying is, we need to analyze all these additional policies, these subsidies, this cronyism, this avalanche of regulations, all these things that are creating a culture of dependency. And like permitting, to start a business, in many cities, to drive a taxicab, to become a hairdresser. Anything that people with limited capital can do to raise themselves up, they keep throwing obstacles in their way. And so weve got to clear those out. Or the minimum wage. Or anything that reduces the mobility of labor.
Koch, in a telephone interview from his office at Koch Industries in Wichita, took questions on several topics: the current gridlock in Washington, for example.
Gridlock is bad if there are positive solutions, he said. But if the proposals are to take us in a worse direction, then gridlock is good. So it depends.
He also addressed whether his company plans to bid on buying the Tribune Co. newspapers, which includes the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers.
Its possible, he said. Its not on the front burner, but its possible.
In an interview last month with the Wall Street Journal, Koch said his company is interested in buying newspapers. But on Monday, he appeared to back off a step or two.
We are at square one on that. There are tremendous changes going on in media, in taking media as a whole, all forms of communication. Were back at square one analyzing where is the most change, where are the best opportunities for new entrants to come in and add value? And so newspapers are one, but there are all sorts of others. Theres the Internet, theres TV. Theres entertainment. And so we dont know where well end up on that.
Koch personally took a role in developing the local media campaign that starts Wednesday; he joked about that, too.