House Speaker Todd Hiett (R-Kellyville) and his band of steal-from-the-middle-class-give-to-the-rich lawmakers tried this past week to seize some political initiative in the face of the conservative party’s deteriorating condition by announcing they want to do away with the estate tax in Oklahoma.
They even held the typical doublespeak Republican press conference and put out a self-serving press release referring to Sweden of all places.
The Daily Oklahoman, as usual, did not provide adequate coverage of the issue by offering alternative points of view or showing how much exactly in tax dollars the state would stand to lose in coming years if the tax was eliminated. That is because the immoral newspaper, a state tragedy, is a completely biased, right-wing “fringe” publication. Last year, the estate tax accounted for $80 million, according to the press release. Only estates worth approximately $1 million or more are taxed.
As it stands now, the vast majority of Oklahoma estates will never be subject to the tax.
The estate-tax issue is bogus, a publicity stunt really. I wonder how many state Republicans making under, say, $35,000 or even $50,000 a year are thrilled more rich people will be exempt from paying taxes. I REALLY wonder how many state Republicans making under $25,000 a year—and sadly they are a lot of people who vote against their own economic interests here—are happy about this transfer of wealth to the state’s richest individuals.
But the state Republicans, still pandering to a small segment of filthy-rich people in the state, have to come up with something to talk about because their leader, President George Bush, is quickly taking the party into the obscurity once again as he divides the country with his meaningless and botched war. So they repeat the mantra and goosestep under their immoral ideology.
Polls show Bush’s approval ratings at all-time lows. Some show those ratings as low as 40 and 36 percent, the lowest of his presidency. Meanwhile, a majority of Americans are now convinced Bush lied about the reasons for the Iraq war and that he continues to lie about it. The death and carnage and chaos mounts in Iraq, and Bush has no plan, no strategy, just the same lies and hollow metaphors.
In addition, gasoline prices are skyrocketing because Bush has no real energy policy. Virtually everyone in the state is complaining about gasoline prices, which are not going down anytime soon. Never has a president been so personally responsible for a terrible energy policy leading to direct financial hardships.
So it is carpe diem time for state Democrats. Here are some suggestions:
(1) Now is the time to abandon the Democrats-for-Bush or Democrats-for-the-war rhetoric in red-state Oklahoma. Just stop it, stop it, stop it now. Bush’s approval ratings are sure to shrink more here and across the country unless he begins a major withdrawal of American troops soon from Iraq, and that is not going to happen anytime soon. Even if he does withdraw the troops before the 2006 elections, the fallout from his terrible war will continue to haunt him. Meanwhile, state Democrats should start bringing truthful facts about the war to the Oklahoma public. No one has to do this harshly or without consideration for those who have lost loved ones in the war, but people here need to be aware the majority of Americans and most of the civilized world disapproves of the way Bush invaded Iraq and has handled the occupation. Our corporate media here does not report this simple fact. We need a concerted grassroots campaign to get around the biased, conservative Oklahoma media.
(2) The 2006 elections loom large, of course, and the Democrats should feel much hope about their chances because of the fallout from Bush’s war fiasco, but we do have to get through another session with a Republican majority in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The Democrats need to hold some press conferences of their own, explaining how they plan to improve education, fund programs to cut energy costs, work on reducing gasoline prices, and ensure Oklahoma has a vibrant economy. Hiett and his outlandish ilk deserve no response. Simply put together real programs that will help middle-class Oklahomans. How about creating a larger initiative with a five-point plan to support it? Do this now, and stick together on it. Print bumper stickers, T-shirts, brochures. Get Brad Henry, a second-term shoo-in for governor, to announce the program.
(3) Then think big, not small, about the 2006 elections. The Democrats can win the House back and easily retain the Senate if the ideas are symbolically large. Do not engage the Republicans in their own doublespeak frames. The state Republicans right now support an immoral agenda that hurts Oklahoma’s middle-class families. Do not engage in some absurd, Limbaugheque debate over the worn-out clichés advanced by the party of the war-liar Bush. Let them chirp their lies to each other as the state Democrats move Oklahoma and the country forward.
This is a crucial opportunity for state Democrats. The people, not the corporations, not the rich elite, have the advantage now and the advantage grows by the day. Do the Democrats have the guts?
A recent New York Times article presents an issue that is sure to affect Oklahoma in the next two years. The article argues the Christian right plans to target state politics throughout the country in a new, aggressive fashion, hoping to put limits on a woman's right to control her own body while adding creationist disclaimers to school science textbooks.
Here's the main gist of the story: much of the political action will be local, not national, as we brace ourselves for four more years of George Bush.
Oklahoma, of course, will be no exception. In fact, the state may well become a leader in the country's steady and sure march to quasi-fascist and Christian theocratic rule. With their new majority in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, the Republicans are sure to advance a radical, ultra-conservative agenda.
The Republicans gained nine seats in the Oklahoma House of Representatives in November, giving them a 57-44 margin. This is the first time since 1920, the Republicans have had such a majority.
The new majority leader will mostly likely be Todd Hiett,a rancher from Kellyville, which is relatively close to the Tulsa area.
The reason I mention Hiett is that Oklahoma progressives need to be ready to contact his office once the right-wing, radical fireworks begin.
Here's the contact information: Todd Hiett, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd, Room 401, Oklahoma City, OK 73105,(405) 557-7353. His district address contact information is 16431 Slick Road, Kellyville, OK 74039,(918) 247-3697. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let's hope Democratic Governor Brad Henry and the Oklahoma State Senate can keep the House Republicans in check.
But I get the sense we will need to be ready to fight back.