Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Billionaire Philanthropist Tom Steyer Becomes GOP Target for His Determination to Battle Climate Change

Tom Steyer & wife "Kat" Taylor - (Photo
Remember back in October of 2013 during the height of the government shutdown (that was intentionally caused by Republicans who blocked a continuing funding resolution) when Congresswoman Michele Bachmann appeared in front of the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC with other GOP Congressmen and defiantly announced their determination to keep the memorial open for visiting WWII vets?

This of course was in spite of the fact that Bachmann was one of the people who caused the memorial to be shut in the first place.

As the founder of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus and part of the fringe extremist wing of the GOP that engineered the partial government shutdown (forcing national parks across the nation to close because there was no money to pay members of the national park staff) Bachmann was simultaneously the cause of the closed memorial - and was also against it being closed.

To me it both epitomized the audacious stupidity of the Tea Party and also served as a vivid reminder of the depths of their hypocrisy. 

Yesterday Senate minority leader Republican Mitch McConnell may well have outdone Bachmann with his tirade on the Senate floor against San Francisco philanthropist Tom Steyer because of the liberal-leaning former hedge fund manager's pledge to spend $100 million of his own money to target mostly Republican candidates who deny climate change during the upcoming 2014 elections.

As reported by Evan Halper on yesterday afternoon, the stone-faced McConnell had the audacity to compare Steyer of being no different than the Koch brothers.

McConnell's comments came in the wake of Senate majority leader Harry Reid's recent denunciations of the right wing billionaire brothers spending millions on false and misleading attack ads against the Affordable Care Act to target Democratic senators in an effort to return the senate to GOP control.

The accusations by McConnell are laughable considering the Koch brothers have literally spent HUNDREDS of millions of dollars of their money to bankroll the Tea Party, sponsor inaccurate media campaigns attacking the president and other Democrats on everything from health care to Benghazi as well as legislative efforts to suppress the votes of the elderly, minorities, students and immigrants.

The Koch brothers are also major donors to the climate change denial movement, but not because they don't believe in science; Koch Industries and their myriad of subsidiary companies are well known as some of the most notorious polluters in the nation. According to Greenpeace, since 1997 Charles and David Koch have contributed over $67 million to the climate change denial movement in the name of corportate profits over sound environmental laws.

While Steyer, who amassed a $1.5 billion fortune as a headge fund manager before retiring recently to focus exclusively on addressing global climate change, was a major donor to President Obama's presidential campaign and also committed at least $11 million of his own money to help Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe become the 72nd governor of that critical battleground state - by all accounts he's a principled man with a grounded perspective who is guided by a sense of ethics.

If your don't know anything about Tom Steyer and his wife "Kat" Taylor, just take a couple minutes to read through this insightful profile of this liberal-leaning philanthropist power couple written by Julian Guthrie on Really interesting people.

Steyer, an Ivy-League grad who's father was a socially conscious and successful New York city lawyer and who's mother was a teacher who taught in Harlem schools), drives an old Honda hybrid. He's made it his mission in life to address climate change and has pledged to spend the bulk of his fortune on issues related to social justice and inequality in America.

In California he spent $30 million of his own money to help a state-wide campaign to eliminate a coroporate tax loophole that brings in a billion dollars a year into the state's coffers and helped reduce it's massive deficit.

His Ivy-League educated wife (the couple met a Stanford University) is the head of One Pacific Coast Bank, a Federally certified Community Development Financial Institution the couple founded in Oakland, CA to address the lack of banking and lending services in poor neighborhoods. She's also an active advocate for a fair justice system as well. 

This couple is for real, Americans fortunate enough to have benefitted from privileged upbringings and top-tier educations who used their knowledge and connections to prosper financially, and yet still recognize the importance of giving back to those less fortunate than themselves for the long-term well being of the nation.

They're philanthropists interested creating a better society who recognize that the nation prospers when everyone propspers. Mitch McConnell can take the floor of the Senante and gripe about them all he wants to; but the Koch brothers will never understand Tom Steyer's kind of philanthrophy; the Koch brother's narrow vision  of America is a "corporate-ocracy" which they pay for and profit from.

I for one, am glad there are advocates like TomSteyer and Kat Taylor willing to channel their time, energy and resources into a broder vision for America. It will be needed in the 2014 elections.

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