For the most part, conservatives who have had issues with the Trump administration’s agenda have either kept their mouths shut or praised the MAGA agenda with faint damnation. But it looks like one of the most important sources of political money and conservative agitprop, the Koch brothers and their widespread network, is going to put some actual money into a fight with Trump on one of the handful of issues he seems to care about: his determination to wage and win a trade war with the rest of the world. CNBC has the story:
The political network backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch on Monday unveiled a multiyear, multimillion-dollar campaign opposing the tariffs implemented by President Donald Trump’s administration.
Last week’s decision by the Trump’s administration to place tariffs on imported steel and aluminium from key U.S. allies the European Union, Canada and Mexico apparently was the tipping point for the influential Koch network, which typically supports Republicans and conservative causes. The group is now moving ahead with a pro-free trade campaign that will include media buys, activist education, grass-roots mobilization, lobbying and policy analysis.
It’s not very surprising that the libertarianish Kochs support free trade and oppose trade wars. Most business-oriented conservatives take the same position, with varying levels of volume. It’s more interesting that the Kochs are willing to put some money into their opposition to Trump’s trade agenda — money that might otherwise go to Trump-supporting Republican candidacies and the parts of the president’s agenda they like.
Koch network groups Freedom Partners, Americans for Prosperity and the Libre Initiative made it clear in an announcement Monday that they are opposed to Trump’s tariffs and that their media and PR blitz is determined to show the benefits of open trade policies.
“This campaign makes a clear statement: Trade is a major priority for our network,” James Davis, executive vice president of Freedom Partners, said in a statement. “We will work aggressively to educate policymakers and others about the facts. Trade lifts people out of poverty and improves lives. It is critical to America’s future prosperity and our consumers, workers and companies. Tariffs and other trade barriers make us poorer. They raise prices for those who can least afford it.”
If they are right, it won’t just be ads from the Koch network, but bad signals from the economy itself, that will afflict Trump and his supporters. But in the meantime this is a rare example of Trump’s upward momentum among conservatives hitting a bump in the road.