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Don't try to make Koch Industries a scapegoat

  • Published Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010, at 12:04 a.m.

The American people elected us to do our jobs. But instead of focusing on that, Democrats in Washington, D.C., have decided to wage a campaign against the very companies that will eventually get us out of this economic mess.

One such company is Wichita's Koch Industries. Koch employs 2,400 Kansans and 50,000 nationwide. It is a diversified, privately held company that manufactures and monitors pipelines, makes building products and fertilizer, and is an industry leader in energy production. It also manufactures many consumer products, including Lycra spandex and Brawny paper towels.

Koch management is dedicated to keeping the company growing. It reinvests 90 percent of company profits back into the businesses, allowing them to expand product lines and hire more employees. That is good for consumers and for workers.

However, the company has come under fire because its owners support free-market principles inconsistent with the current Democrat leadership.

In August, President Obama personally called out a grassroots political group that he disagreed with philosophically. David Koch, one of the majority owners of Koch Industries, supports that particular group, which supports smaller government and the free-enterprise system — ideals I (and most Americans) strongly support.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, piled on. He accused Koch of wanting to send American jobs overseas when he told Bloomberg Television, "They actually got an award for outsourcing to China." Only one small problem: The company he cites had absolutely no connection to Koch at that time.

But the most egregious example of these Chicago-style tactics occurred on Aug. 27. That's when, according to news reports, Austan Goolsbee, an Obama administration economist, discussed the company's tax status and falsely claimed that Koch has not paid federal corporate income taxes.

It's not clear why an administration official would share confidential tax information. But if the Obama administration and Van Hollen are going to attack an American corporation, they should at least get their facts right.

While no company or individual is perfect, Koch does more than simply remit tax payments. Its 50,000 American employees spend their time and money in communities across the country. They buy cars and houses, groceries and appliances. They volunteer for their local schools, coach youth sports, and donate to churches and civic organizations.

In short, their steady, good-paying jobs allow them to be pillars of their communities. Koch is hiring, and the jobs it is creating are precisely the building blocks America needs to get our economy growing again.

A lot of work needs to be done in Washington to set the conditions for a successful economic recovery, but having Democrat leaders focus on attacking successful American companies will only benefit our foreign competitors. Such attacks on American business, along with the excessive taxes and uncertain regulations proposed by Van Hollen and the Obama administration, are what cause true outsourcing.

We need to support, not try to destroy, job creators such as Koch. Let's celebrate our successful entrepreneurs and companies rather than try to use them as scapegoats for failed government economic policies.

Lynn Jenkins is a Republican member of Congress from Topeka.

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