As our informed readers know, the big sticking point in this year’s Oklahoma budget crisis is the gross production tax.
Democrats, for the most part, want to go with the Kaiser Plan and see the tax raised from its current giveaway-rates to something along the lines of other fossil fuel-producing states. Republicans (a.k.a the ones who like to worship and appease our all-mighty and powerful Oil and Gas Industry Overlords) are divided into two categories:
1. Moderate Republicans. They want to raise the tax from insanely-low levels to just borderline insanely-low levels.
2. Anti-Government Crazy Republicans. These lunatics refuse to raise any new taxes or revenue on anything.
The whole debate has provided for some good political theatre. Thanks to a bill pushed by Republicans in the 1990s, Democrats have some power because their votes (for now) are needed to pass a budget that raises taxes. They have been using their new abilities like the kid from Thunderstruck. They’ve been holding fiery press conferences, trolling GOP colleagues on social media, and helping Scott Inman promote his gubernatorial campaign. You know, typical political stuff. I hope they enjoy this power while it all lasts.
This rare show of might by the Dems has put our Oil and Gas Overlords and the GOP-controlled legislature they purchased on a rare defensive. They usually get their way and probably will this time, too, but it’s been fun to watch them work overtime trying to deceive the public with misleading ad campaigns and basic media manipulation. They’re also busing paid protestors to the Capitol to make it look like there’s a legitimate grassroots effort against the tax. Why plant a seed when you can just buy sod?
The Oil Industry Overlords are even sending veiled threats about the tax:
As the debate continues on how to fill the state’s $878 million budget hole, Continental Resources Inc. CEO Harold Hamm on Thursday warned that Legislators should avoid raising taxes on the state’s oil and natural gas industry.
“It would be a huge deterrent on activity in Oklahoma,” Hamm said in an interview after his company’s annual shareholder meeting Thursday morning. “To raise the gross production tax on the industry when prices are below $50 for oil and below $3 for natural gas, that’s unconscionable. That sends the wrong message. We can’t always go back to the trough of loading up on oil and gas every time the state needs revenue.”
Before we continue, I’d like to remind everyone that Harold Hamm is a greedy, anti-tax selfish toadman. He wants what’s best for his net worth and shareholders. If he stops drilling in Oklahoma because his corporation has to pay their fair share in taxes, then screw him.
Unfortunately, the Democrats don’t have a well-known, powerful voice to counter that of Hamm and his fellow moguls. Well, actually they do, but David Boren and Barry Switzer have been noticeably quiet when it comes to the gross production tax.
Isn’t that surprising? David Boren is a loyal Democrat. He aggressively and enthusiastically campaigned for State Question 779, which would have increased sales taxes on all Oklahomans by 22%. For some reason, though, he’s been totally silent on the gross production tax debate. Increasing the GPT would raise money for education, teacher pay raises and help fund core government services. Outside of earning a six figure income as a board member for Continental Resources and relying upon Harold Hamm to donate money to the University of Oklahoma, how could he be against it?
And where’s Barry Switzer? He’s a liberal bootlegger’s boy and heroic fighter for the little man, right? He’s also never shied away from getting involved in politics. He endorsed Brad Henry for Governor, fought against SQ 777, and most recently came out strongly against wind subsidies. Knowing his position on that stuff, you’d think he’d be all about having the oil and gas companies pay their fair share and help properly fund our government.
Oddly enough, Barry Switzer hasn’t said a word about the gross production tax. Do you think his bromance with Harold Hamm has anything to do with it? I know Harold Hamm flew Switzer to North Dakota for that Trump rally, and I know Switzer’s son-in-law had that party for Trump, but he’s not that big of a sellout.
Wait. He is. I totally forgot…
While we’re bagging on David Boren and Barry Switzer for being hypocrites who compromise their political positions and values in the name of helping their rich powerful friends get richer, we should also ask: Where’s Toby Keith???
Actually, I’m just kidding. Who cares where that Cowbro stands on things.
Anyway, if anyone knows David Boren or Barry Switzer, can you send them this article and ask them to write an open letter to Non Doc? I would really like to know where they stand on this issue. Well, that is after they consult with Harold Hamm. It would make the theatre more interesting, especially if they defied liberals and turned to the dark side.
In the meantime, I guess we’ll watch this gross production theatre play out. Unfortunately, I don’t see a happy ending. In real life, the bad guys usually win.