Cargill’s Hypocrisy Goes Unchallenged By Corporate Media
100 Republican Ideas
Oklahoma House Speaker Lance Cargill’s effort to pass a so-called ethics bill supposedly making the state’s campaign contribution system more transparent is a blatant gesture of hypocrisy.
But then this is Oklahoma, where extreme right-wing political contradictions go unchallenged by the state’s corporate media on a daily basis.
On one hand, Cargill (R-Harrah) wants to create an online system, under his House Bill 2110, that shows all donations to the state’s political candidates on a monthly basis. He also wants to require donors from out of state to identify themselves. (The bill also contains a few more minor “reforms,” but nothing that will seriously challenge that pay-to-play mentality that has completely corrupted our political systems in this country.)
On the other hand, Cargill continues to keep secret those who are bankrolling his 100 Ideas initiative, which is nothing more than a front to promote Republican ideology and his own political career throughout the state.
How can you honestly try to pass a bill that calls for transparency in our campaign system at the same time you operate a secretly funded organization for political reasons? Well, it’s easy in Oklahoma when corporate media outlets such as The Daily Oklahoman serve as the GOP’s very own propaganda ministry.
The 100 Ideas initiative mimics a similar program in Florida. People supposedly submit ideas to improve Oklahoma to the 100 Ideas organization. The organization will then select the 100 best ideas and publish them. Cargill and former state Rep. Thad Balkman, another Republican, are operating the initiative. They are pretending the organization is non-partisan, but clearly its intent is to promote right-wing ideology. For example, Balkman has said he doesn’t want any ideas that might expand government, according to news reports.
Balkman recently lost his House seat to Wallace Collins, a Democrat. This was primarily because Balkman promotes religious intrusion into government, and enlightened voters in Norman, a college town, stopped his religious crusade. As a legislator, for example, Balkman supported teaching intelligent design, or neocreationism, as science in our schools. This would have kept our students ignorant of the scientific method.
According to a story about the issue in the Oklahoma Gazette, the weekly publication has filed a request under the state’s Open Records Act asking for records from Cargill and his staff. (Ben Fenwick of the Gazette has done the best local reporting on the controversy.) In addition, Balkman now says he will release sponsor information in March. But is this just a delay tactic on Balkman’s part? Will he really do it? Will he release all the information? Why do the sponsors want to remain private?
Okie Funk again calls on the Oklahoma Attorney General or other state legal officials to determine whether this organization can operate secretly or not within the scope of campaign laws. This new fronting technique could change the political landscape here considerably, and it will only be for the worse.
Revenue Estimates Decline
When you cut taxes, you have less money to spend on government. This is obvious, of course, but somehow this simple idea got lost in all the tax cutting hoopla in Oklahoma the last two years.
Consequently, the State Board of Equalization has now revised its revenue estimates, lowering the state’s surplus estimated amounts by $105 million for 2007 and by $163 million for 2008.
The Alliance For Oklahoma’s Future gives an excellent breakdown of the lowered estimates, which “confirms that passing deep, permanent and back-loaded tax cuts based on a temporary revenue surge is leaving the state in a tight fiscal bin.”
The state legislature recently lowered the state income tax. This has contributed to the decline in the estimates.
What this means is that during the next financial downturn in Oklahoma (and there will be a downturn), the state may find itself unable to fund its legislative mandates, much less adequately fund public education or help the medically uninsured or improve our roads. The middle class and poor will get hurt the most. What else is new, right?