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Using Koch Money, Cato Institute Has Led the Drumbeat to Denigrate and Privatize the U.S. Postal Service

Courtesy of Pam Martens

U.S. Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy

U.S. Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy

The first thing you need to know about the right-wing Cato Institute is that it quietly began its life as the Charles Koch Foundation in 1974. The name was changed to the Cato Institute in 1977 according to the restated articles of incorporation. For decades, the Cato Institute enjoyed a taxpayer subsidy as a nonprofit while being secretly owned by a handful of men, two of whom were the fossil fuel billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch – libertarians with a radical agenda. (David Koch died in August of last year.)

The second thing to know about the Cato Institute is that over the past 35 years, Koch-related foundations have pumped more than $22 million into its coffers to help Cato get out its messaging of killing off the following: Social Security; federally-subsidized school lunches; the minimum wage; collective bargaining; and, of course, the unionized U.S. Postal Service.

In 2009, the Cato Institute hired the powerful corporate lobbyist firm, Patton Boggs, to file its Amicus brief in the Citizens United case at the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing in favor of loosening restrictions on corporate spending in campaigns. The 5-4 decision in that case opened the spigots to corporate funding of political campaigns in 2010. Democracy in the U.S. has been on the skids ever since.

Given that background, it’s only natural that the current attack on the U.S. Postal Service would have the dirty fingerprints of the Cato Institute all over it. Despite Gallup polls and the 2020 Pew Research poll that found that the U.S. Postal Service enjoys the approval of the vast majority of Americans, the Cato Institute has denigrated it in essays, testimony to Congress and opinion pieces in the press for decades and called for its privatization. Those efforts were stepped up in the past two years.

On April 28 of this year, Cato’s Chris Edwards wrote an OpEd for the New York Daily News calling for the privatization of the U.S. Postal Service, writing that “To survive and even thrive in the changing economy, the U.S. Postal Service should be moved to the private sector.”


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