That president-elect Donald Trump is highly unpredictable is widely accepted, but what does seem something to securely bank on is his commitment to tax cuts for the wealthy given his connection to Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who has been appointed to his transition team, and local oil baron, Harold Hamm, who is rumored to be in the mix for energy secretary.
Governor Mary Fallin to join President-Elect Donald Trumps team https://t.co/7HMfrGn7ND
— KOKH FOX 25 (@OKCFOX) November 30, 2016
As you might recall, both Fallin and Hamm, chief executive officer of Continental Resources, hammered out a 2014 tax-break deal for the state’s oil and gas companies that lowered their gross production rate from 7 percent to 2 percent for the first three years of any oil and gas well drilled vertically or horizontally.
This is what Fallin said about the deal after it was pushed by local oil and gas executives, which included Hamm:
“The new 2 percent tax rate is fair to the state and sends a clear message to energy producers worldwide: Oklahoma is the place for energy production and investment. We want to be a leader in this field not just today but for decades to come.”
Fair to the state? A year later the tax break, along with a slow down in fracking, led to a 12-year low gross production revenue drop.
The tax breaks for oil and gas companies combined with recent income tax cuts for the wealthy have devastated the Oklahoma budget and led to the steepest cuts on a percentage basis for education funding in the nation since the 2008 recession. The cuts have led to teacher layoffs and an exodus of intelligent educators seeking employment in other states that pay better.
Meanwhile, disposal wells used in the hydraulic fracturing process have ignited earthquakes along previously dormant fault lines, making the state one of the most seismically active states in the nation. Trump’s recent meeting with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, an ardent opponent of many Environmental Protection Agency regulations, doesn’t bode well for the earthquake issue either.
So is the United States headed in the direction of Oklahoma? Does the state serve as a microcosm of what’s to come under Trump? That would include major cuts to public education and environmental disaster. It seems likely and no amount of Facebook rants are going to stop it.
Fallin, Hamm and Pruitt represent an extremist strand of GOP ideology that combined with Trump’s right-wing authoritarianism and short fuse portend a threat to basic democratic values and decent human values in the nation.
People across the country need to look no further than the flyover state of Oklahoma and all its problems to see the direction in which their country is heading. The coming anti-intellectualism and the expanding and securing of an American oligarchy will soon arrive, and the only question is whether the country can survive it.