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New York Times Editorial Rips Oklahoma Legislature For Being Oklahoma Legislature

ok leg

The Oklahoma Legislature is still generating some national attention.

On Saturday afternoon, while you were applying sunscreen and wondering if it's too early to start day drinking, The New York Times released an editorial panning the Oklahoma legislature for its unprecedented assault on the poor during the much discussed budget crisis.

Here's a snippet:

Oklahoma Makes the Poor Poorer

As they sliced and diced state programs this month to close a budget deficit, Republicans controlling the Oklahoma Legislature cruelly targeted some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens — the working poor — by cutting an average $147 a year from the income of 200,000 households.

This may seem negligible to the state’s wealthy and middle class, but not to a poor family with a breadwinner struggling at the margins. The method chosen is deplorable — cutting the state share of the earned-income tax credit for low-income workers, a federal program widely praised as an effective lift from poverty. “It’s one of the most valuable antipoverty programs on the books today,” Carl Davis, research director for the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, told The Tulsa World.

Listen, I'm glad the New York Times did this. The more people who know about our nutty legislature the better. That being said, couldn't the Times have waited a few additional days to publish this? There's a reason the Oklahoma legislature adjourns before Memorial Day. By publishing this on a holiday weekend where it can drown in lake water and blue algae, the Times is playing into the legislature's cold, conniving hands.

Here's some more:

After years of enacting generous tax cuts for the wealthy and for the powerful oil industry, however, the Oklahoma Legislature was facing falling revenues and resorted to an assortment of questionable cuts to close a $1.3 billion deficit. None is more regressive than penalizing the working poor. It will net an estimated $29 million for the state coffers while cutting $312 for a family with three or more children and a parent earning $13,850 a year. The federal earned-income credit program, based on income and family size, is not affected; only the state share is being cut.

In contrast, Oklahoma’s tax breaks for the oil and gas companies — among the most generous in the nation — gave the industry $470 million in tax relief last year, according to a Reuters report on how the state’s deficit problems have been aggravated by a steep drop in oil prices.

In the legislature's defense, it is a lot easier to get money out of the poor than it is to tax the rich and wealthy. The only thing poor folks can do is whine and complain. Rich people and wealthy corporations, on the other hand, can withhold campaign contributions and use their power, influence and media connections to control elections. Don't bite the hand that feeds, especially if you're a spineless shill who works in the Oklahoma legislature.

Anyway, you can read the entire editorial here. Just like the Reuters piece, I'd encourage you to share it. Now that the Memorial Day weekend has passed us by, maybe people will actually pay attention,

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