The PJ Tatler

Say, Just How Did Obama's Economic Adviser Know About the Koch Brothers' Taxes?

John R. Lott asked that question on May 13. It still hasn’t been answered.

On August 27, 2010, the IRS abuse of Tea Party, pro-life, Jewish and other groups was in full swing. It had begun nearly five months earlier, on April 1, just one day after President Barack Obama had personally met with Colleen Kelley, president of the IRS workers union.

On that day, August 27, President Obama’s top economic adviser Austan Goolsbee held an on-the-record press briefing. In that briefing, Goolsbee said “[W]e have a series of entities that do not pay corporate income tax, some of which are really giant firms. You know, Koch Industries is a multibillion-dollar business.”

You see what he did there? Goolsbee suggested without actually saying outright that the Koch brothers weren’t paying corporate income taxes. He built a shade of plausible deniability into his statement.

At that time, the summer of 2010, the Tea Party was gearing up to whallop Obama’s Democrats in the mid-term elections. The Koch brothers were bankrolling groups like Americans for Prosperity, which help spread the message that economic freedom is a good thing. Liberals like Andrew Sullivan were making up juvenile jokes based on the brothers’ name to attack them for their unpardonable sin of opposing Barack Obama.

The Koch brothers were very much on Obama’s radar, along with the Tea Party. We now know that the Tea Party was under sustained abuse from the Internal Revenue Service at that time. Obama’s top economic adviser launched an oblique but intentional attack on the brothers on August 27, evidently intended to get reporters to go snooping around Koch Industries just a little over two months before the mid-terms.

The thing about Goolsbee’s statement, though, is that it turned out to be true. He knew Koch Industries’ taxes by rote and divulged them in a press briefing. Koch Industries is privately held, so its taxes are not public information. Goolsbee didn’t work for or at the IRS and therefore wasn’t supposed to have that information. When the White House was asked about Goolsbee’s statement, it came up with two excuses, neither of which turned out to be correct. Then the Obama White House said that Goolsbee just guessed it and happened to get it right. What are the odds, right? If Goolsbee’s that good, he should have gotten the economy to turn around. The IRS was supposed to investigate him, but once the heat was off, so was that investigation.

The heat should be back on. Goolsbee is no longer in the administration but he should be called to testify under oath about his knowledge of what should have been information known only within Koch Industries and the Internal Revenue Service. How and when did he obtain that information? Who else within Obama’s inner circle had access to it? Did anyone in the Obama campaign, the DNC or any allied organization have access to that information? What role did Barack Obama play?