Skip to Content
Everything Else

The Oklahoman blames Democrats for state’s “continued dysfunction.”

As we like to remind people, there's a lot of blame to divvy for the Oklahoma budget crisis.

One group that gets a pass, for the most part, is the current class of Democrats serving in the legislature. Although on a semi-rebound, this weak and powerless group holds less than 25% of Oklahoma's legislative seats, and rarely gets a chance to be involved in the political process, much less shape, craft or influence legislation.

Plus, most of them weren't around when Brad Henry and a Democratic controlled Senate worked with a GOP controlled House to lower the state income tax for high income earners. That's something most Democrats don't want you to remember when you send your kids out the door for a four-day school week.

Knowing those facts, The Oklahoman Editorial Board is naturally blaming Democrats for the continued dysfunction in Oklahoma government. They did so in a scathing, ludicrous editorial that reads like it was written back in the 1970s or 1980s when Democrats actually carried some weight. It drips with hypocrisy and double-standards, ignores truth and reality, and a glosses-over the state GOP's major role in the perpetual Oklahoma Budget Crisis®.

Basically, it's your typical idiotic editorial published in our state's largest newspaper.

Check it out:

House Democrats to blame for failure of Oklahoma cigarette tax

OKLAHOMA House Speaker Charles McCall decided Wednesday to effectively end a legislative special session until a budget agreement has been developed. Blame for this  lies squarely with Minority Leader Scott Inman and the Democratic caucus.

It's official. The people who literally have no influence at the Capitol are "squarely" to blame for the dysfunction. Don't worry about the Republican ideologues who have driven the state into a roadside ditch. Blame the person taking a nap in the back seat.

The special session call by Gov. Mary Fallin covered a wide range of issues, but none is more pressing than the need to approve a cigarette tax increase with the constitutionally required supermajority. This is the only tax that receives strong public backing (65 percent approval when revenues are dedicated to health care), yet it hasn't passed in the House because Inman, D-Del City, and his caucus won't let it.

No what else "receives strong public backing?" Legalizing medical marijuana and raising the gross production tax to reasonable, regional levels! For some reason, the editorial doesn't mention those popular items. Outside of not fitting a strict, conservative, anti-Democrat narrative, I wonder why?

Also, don't Republicans hold supermajorities in both the House and Senate? They don't need Democratic help to pass the tax with strong public backing. They can do it own their own. Shouldn't they then share a large part of the blame?

Inman's defenders will object that Republicans hold supermajorities in the Legislature. But the cigarette tax is a rare instance where the votes of the minority party are required for passage and can truly make a difference. About three-fourths of House Republicans support the cigarette tax. A roughly equal share of Democrats is needed to pass it.

Wow. Look at that Tony Hawk 900 editorial spin bullshit! I guess the new talking point for the State GOP is to confuse people and make it appear that 75% of votes from both parties are legally required for the cigarette tax to pass, when that's simply not the case. It just requires a basic supermajority. If all Republicans voted for the tax, they wouldn't need Democratic help at all. I just wanted to clear that up.

Yet time and again, House Democrats have refused to do so. They have balked at advancing a policy they claim to support (raising the cigarette tax) to fund a cause they claim to support (health care programs that serve the poor). Democrats say they wanted to also increase other taxes, but only one tax increase is feasible. And for now they've killed it.

Oklahomans shouldn't forget these shenanigans in next year's elections, particularly in the governor's race where Inman is an announced candidate. Those who sabotage the engine of government should not be rewarded with keys to the car.

Ha! If that's the case, then you asshats better toss us the keys. For over 40 years, the entire goal of the Republican Party and Oklahoman Editorial Board has been to sabotage the engine of government and make it as dysfunctional possible. I have my issues with the modern Democratic party, but suggesting they're the ones doing this is a lie and takes hypocrisy to a new low. It would be like one boxer criticizing another boxer for hitting too hard.

House Democrats have long included a cigarette tax increase in their own budget plan. Yet most of the caucus has locked up in opposition every time a cigarette tax bill has been offered. House Democrats prevented a cigarette tax increase in the 2016 session and did the same in the 2017 regular session. Now they're preventing a cigarette tax increase in the 2017 special session. The pattern is obvious: Democrats say one thing, but do the opposite.

Great observation! That's not a generic trademark of any politician or anything. Only Democrats say one thing, but do the opposite. Oklahoma Republicans, on the other hand, are honorable and direct, and honest with constituents. I guess that's why they initially tried to pass the cigarette tax as a fee! It's a shame the courts ruled that attempt at honest government to be unconstitutional.

That being said, let's call a shitty editorial and a shitty editorial here and admit the Democrats are playing obstructionist politics. Good for them. The cigarette tax is a cheap band-aid fix placed on gunshot wound problem – kudos for doing what's right and holding out for an actual solution. As The Oklahoman mentioned, this is one of the "rare circumstances" that Dems have power, so they might as well use it to get some other issues addressed before it's gone.

Democrats' motivation is transparently political, if morally repugnant. The worse things get in state government, the more they think Republicans will be blamed and their party will benefit. Inman seems to think voters will want to elect him governor to fix state finances after he was a leading cause of government dysfunction the past two years.

Yep, the people who want to hold out for a difficult and comprehensive solution to the state budget crisis – and not continue to kick the can down the road and normalize a cash-strapped dysfunctional government that can't even provide essential and life saving services to its impoverished citizens – are the ones who are morally repugnant. How can you not agree with that?

That calculation has led Inman and his caucus to oppose a cigarette tax knowing their inaction will result in cuts to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the Department of Human Services. Democrats claim to support all those agencies, and often say cuts will cause people to suffer or die.

If Democrats truly believe what they say when making those claims, then there's only one way to interpret their actions: They believe the pain and suffering of others is a small price to pay to make marginal gains in legislative power next year.

Somehow, we doubt those affected by this obstruction will agree.

Do you like that? The Oklahoman called out Democrats for believing that "pain and suffering of others is a small price to pay to make marginal gains in legislative power," but for some reason, they didn't write a word about anti-tax Republicans who voted against the cigarette tax in that group. On that note, I'd like to congratulate the Oklahoman Editorial Board for the consistency in looking the other way, and the general commitment to partisan spin politics, double standards and hypocrisy.

Anyway, I want to be clear on one thing – I think it's possible to make a valid, compelling and fair argument against Oklahoma Democrat's for taking the long, obstructionist view, and sacrifice the passing of a cigarette tax in order to come up with a longer term solution to the state budget crisis. Placing politics over people is a dangerous game, and something both parties play all too well.

Unfortunately, The Oklahoman Editorial Board is where valid, compelling and fair arguments go to die. It's always a joy to watch this partisan rag continue its slow, well-deserved decline.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter