By Mary Bottari on July 03, 2014

Generation Opportunity (Gen Opp), the "millennial" group behind the "creepy Uncle Sam" ads which attempted to scare America’s youth away from health care coverage, is weighing in on the fight for control of the U.S. Senate in a big way. The "nonpartisan" group, which has received almost all of its funding from two conduits tied to the billionaire Koch brothers, has dropped nearly $2.3 million on TV ads since mid-June. The ads, attacking Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Mark Udall (D-CO), indicate that the front group is going to spend a lot of money in the fight for control of the Senate.

"Nonpartisan" Group Bashes Democrats



For now, the group has shifted off its almost exclusive focus on the horrors of affordable health care to an old fashioned bashing of "tax and spend" democrats.

One slick ad, running in North Carolina and Colorado, depicts a young woman criticizing Hagan and Udall. After four years of college, "why is it harder than ever to start a career?" the actress laments. Rather than blaming the unacceptable youth unemployment rate on the big banks that crashed the economy, the young woman blames unspecified "massive spending bills that cripple [the] economy." The overall message -- "stop spending our generation’s future".


Another, even more generic ad, attacking Udall and Landrieu, drops the characters portraying the Senators in a shopping cart slamming "Washington politicians" with "a spending problem." Gen Opp spent a total of $900,000 against Udall, $825,000 against Hagan, and $550,000 against Landrieu, bringing the ad buy to $2.275 million.

The ads are clumsy attempts to convince American youth that government spending is more of a threat to their future than the slow recovery or student debt, when the opposite -- more government spending on education and Pell grants, plus jobs programs for youth and adults would greatly improve their economic outlook.

Bankrolled by Billionaires

In 2012, Gen Opp received $5 million from Freedom Partners, a key part of the Koch political apparatus which raised some $256 million for the 2012 election cycle from deep pocketed donors many of whom have donated a million or more to the Koch network. It was almost a year after the election that tax filings first revealed that Freedom Partners had bankrolled almost the entirety of the "grassroots" opposition to "Obamacare." The group also received over $2 million from TC4 Trust another Koch-tied conduit in 2012. 

Tim Phillips, the head of the Koch’s Americans for Prosperity group, tipped his hand when he told the New York Times that Koch opposition to the Affordable Care Act was mere prelude to the looming showdown over climate change.

"We have a broader cautionary tale," said Phillips. "The president’s out there touting billions of dollars on climate change. We want Americans to think about what they promised with the last social welfare boondoggle and look at what the actual result is."

Polling shows that young people, both Republicans and Democrats, are hugely concerned about climate change and the future of the planet. Not only is climate change a big problem say 66 percent of youth, 80 percent want the President to take executive action to tackle it. 79 percent want to vote for politicians who share these views. Now Obama’s EPA is cracking down on emissions from coal fired power plants. Team Koch knows that to continue to pollute the planet and reap huge rewards from fossil fuel industry, it has to convince young people to look the other way.

Are America’s youth buying what Gen Opp is peddling? Hard to say. Gen Opp has only 1,961 followers on Twitter. The group boasts millions of followers on Facebook, but it was caught using a variety of deceits to swell its Facebook followers, including creating pages with generic names such as "Being American." After all, who doesn’t like Being American?

The astroturf youth group brings back fond memories of "The Can Kicks Back," the front group bankrolled by Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson’s Fix the Debt gang that thought a man in a tin can suit and grassroots road tours in a Mercedes van (not kidding) would foment grassroots enthusiasm for austerity.

Will there be more mascots, road shows, wrapped tour buses, student chapters, and other fun gimmicks as Gen Opp reaches out to the masses? One can but hope.


CMD’s Sean Hoey contributed to this article.

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Comments

What she spending on SNAP, ie food for children or something horrible like that > insert sarcasm
This reminds me of the Hitler Youth program.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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