Charles Koch says Bernie Sanders is right about two-tiered society

Charles Koch responds to questions during an interview October 19, 2015. (October 19, 2015)
Charles Koch responds to questions during an interview October 19, 2015. (October 19, 2015) File photo

Charles Koch went on the record Thursday in defense of Bernie Sanders: that the world is split into a “two-tiered society” that benefits the privileged at the expense of everyone else.

Koch, who is often criticized by liberals for the money he gives to conservative candidates, said Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist, was not wrong about his main economic and political critique in a Washington Post editorial.

“The senator is upset with a political and economic system that is often rigged,” 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.”

Sanders has openly welcomed the criticism of Koch, who says Sanders “often misrepresents” where he stands on issues.

Koch has not been pleased with the rhetoric in the current presidential election. In contrast to divisiveness, Koch wrote, “I see benefits in searching for common ground and greater civility during this overly negative campaign season.”

Koch reiterated his support for criminal justice reform, an issue that he and Koch Industries have been pushing for more than a year. He also re-emphasized his support of ending corporate subsidies, including the ethanol subsidy that Koch Industries benefits from as an ethanol producer. These are both issues that Sanders and many liberals agree with.

But this doesn’t mean Koch is a Sanders supporter: he underlined his opposition to Sanders’ proposals to increase the size of government and, in particular, criticized government programs aimed at reducing poverty.

Where Sanders believes government should be the driving force for economic equality, Koch underlined his commitment to freedom, as both an essential goal in itself and as a better strategy than big government for achieving Sanders’ vision of economic equality.

“It is results, not intentions, that matter,” Koch wrote. “History has proven that a bigger, more controlling, more complex and costlier federal government leaves the disadvantaged less likely to improve their lives.”

Oliver Morrison: 316-268-6499, @ORMorrison