The politics of oil taxation in Alaska

Democrats, the party of government, are ready to tax Alaskan oil not just to avoid reducing government, but to increase it. Republicans, the party of private enterprise and smaller government, have not favored increasing revenues from the oil industry. We don’t like imposing taxes on those producing wealth, and we don’t want to grow the government.

But times have changed, and Republicans need to change as well. Now, oil tax revenue is needed in order to fund the permanent fund dividend. If more revenue isn’t obtained, there won’t be a dividend.

But Republicans need to exact a price for their support. They must demand that the dividend be funded. And they must demand that state spending be reduced. Otherwise, no deal.

In order for this deal to be enforceable, and permanent, it needs to go into the Alaska Constitution, in the form of a guaranteed dividend. That, in turn, may require a constitutional convention, which can be called by a vote of the people in 2022. Until then, it’s up to the Republicans to enforce it.

Aside from the districts of Senators Stedman, Stevens and Bishop, Republican legislators represent people who just voted resoundingly against Prop 1, an oil tax increase. In order to justify their support for such a tax, they must not only explain that it was necessary to fund the dividend. They also have to show that it was not used to grow government.

The wit and wisdom of Jalmar Kerttula

Some time in the early 90’s Gov. Wally Hickel went on a trip outside during the session, and when he returned to Juneau he was loaded for bear. He had his aides scurry about the Capitol, rounding up as may legislators as they could find. When Hickel addressed them in his conference room, he read them the riot act.

Finishing his tirade, he said, “All you’re doing around here is f—ing the dog, just f—ing the dog. Well, that’s going to change. From now on we’re going to f— the cat!”

At that point Senator Jay Kerttula said to his neighbor, loud enough for all to hear, “I hear you can get clawed up pretty bad doing that.”

Jay Kerttula, 1928-2020 R. I. P.

Republicans at a crossroads in Alaska

With, at best, 20 House seats, Republicans won’t be able to force big cuts in the budget in 2021, regardless of how the Senate organizes. So Republicans have to make a choice. Do they cut the dividend to the bone, or do they raise revenue? It’s one or the other.

If Republicans decide to defend the dividend, where should the revenue come from, the people or the oil companies? That should be an easy choice. The oil companies have had it soft in Alaska for a very long time, for 40 years, in fact. It’s time the entire oil tax regime in Alaska is given a fresh look.

All the players in Alaskan oil should be invited to Juneau, and asked, “What’s the fairest, most efficient, and least discouraging way for the State to get the revenue it needs?” This is a conversation that is long overdue.

The oil industry took over the State Senate in the mid-80’s, in the person of Senate President Jan Faiks. They have had outsized influence in the legislature ever since. If the Republicans don’t bring them to the table, the Democrats will.

When the industry says they’ll no longer invest in Alaska, it’s bullfeathers. Alaska is where the oil is. And Alaska is at the doorstep of a market the oil companies can exploit.

That market is Japan, our most important ally in the world. China is our geopolitical foe, and Japan, that great big floating aircraft carrier of a nation, is the first line of defense. Valdez is as close to Yokohama as it is to Long Beach, so it makes perfect economic sense for Alaskan oil to be sold there.

Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam are China’s neighbors, and are thus critical to containing it. All are now dependent on Mideast oil, and they are nervous about it. Saudi Arabia and Iran are headed to war, sooner or later, and when that war comes the Strait of Hormuz closes.

All these countries would rather have good, safe, reliable American oil, and they will pay a premium for it. Alaskan oil is thus more valuable than any other oil in North America.

So the oil companies aren’t leaving Alaska. Alaskan oil must be developed as a matter of national security. If China’s neighbors are dependent on Alaskan oil, they are client states, and natural partners, and close allies.

Republicans want every well drilled in this state that makes economic sense. Because Alaska is so strategically located, it will still make sense even if a modest increase in revenue flows to the state.

Sen. Murkowski just left the Republican Party

In Alaska, thanks to Prop 2, there will be no Republican primary for the US Senate in 2022. Instead, the Republican nominee will be selected by delegates to the state convention. Lisa Murkowski can not win such an election, so she must run for reelection as an independent.

With the money at her disposal she’ll be able to buy her way into the four way general election. She’ll be opposed by the Republican, the Democrat and then some third party candidate. She thinks she’ll get into the final round of ranked choice voting by beating either the Democrat or Republican. In the final round she’d hope to get Republican votes against the Democrat or Democrat votes against the Republican.

Prop 2 was designed to give her this path of retaining her seat. It’s a very clever ploy, but it’s too clever by half. These people think they’ve got it all figured out.

We shall see about that.

Ice Road Trucker: The New Face of the Republican Party

Robb Myers of North Pole, Alaska is a middle aged family man, a professional truck driver with virtually no political experience.  Upset with the state of affairs in Juneau, he decided to run for the State Senate, challenging its most senior Republican, John Coghill.  70 year old Coghill is the son of former State Senator Jack Coghill, a delegate to the 1955 constitutional convention, a conservative stalwart, and one of the founders of the Alaska Republican Party.

Myers ran as an economic populist and social conservative, alleging that Coghill had abandoned the creed of his father.  He won the Republican primary by 14 votes, and faced an experienced and well funded Democrat in the general election.

Myers is emblematic of the New Republican Party.  He doesn’t wear a suit, belong to a country club, or attend meetings of the Chamber of Commerce.  He’s not beholden to the oil industry, or any other special interest.  He is a Christian and a patriot, a hard working man who doesn’t make a living behind a desk. 

This is the future of the Republican Party.  The election of 2020 sealed it.  The Republicans are now the party of the working men and women of this country, of all races and creeds.  They, all of them, are its future, and their success will be its success.

For 20 years the national Democratic Party has waited patiently for its emerging majority. Iron laws of demographics doomed Republicans to minority status. By 2020, the process was supposed to have played out. Rising numbers of minority voters would overwhelm the whites who comprised the bulk of Republican support.

It was all nonsense, and this election proved it. Blacks are no longer automatic Democratic voters, Hispanics are trending Republican, and the fastest growing minority — Asian-Americans — are as well. These new Republican voters think of themselves as normal, hard working, patriotic Americans  — like Robb Myers — not so much as members of an oppressed minority

Not long ago Democrats could still claim to be the party of the working man and woman, and this was the key to the “Blue Wall” of upper Midwest states (MI, MN, WI and PA — 56 electoral votes). But they have abandoned these voters, and Republicans can now win them all.  2024 will be a banner year for the Republican Party.

The elections of 2022 will be key. Republicans need to take the House, keep the Senate, and replace the Democratic governors of fraud-prone state like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and Minnesota. These new Republican governors, working with their Republican state legislatures, need to reform the election process in their states to prevent cheating in 2024.

If Biden wins, he will have no claim to an agenda. To the extent he had one, it was rejected when Republicans kept the Senate, and made gains in the House.  He  will accomplish nothing. Not only will the Senate be against him, his own party is split between socialists and moderates. The fight for Democratic leader of the House, as Pelosi retires in 2022, is a huge headache for Democrats.  AOC and the radicals are pitted against the beleaguered and dwindling moderates  —  it will get ugly.

Biden would be a lame duck from the day he’s sworn in. He barely staggered across the finish line this time. He would be lucky to finish one term, much less run for another. Because Kamala Harris is such a flaming leftist, she will not inherit the nomination in 2024. She’ll have to fight for it. And that fight will consume a Biden presidency, and tear the Democratic party apart.

Adding to his troubles is a five member majority on the Supreme Court to check any executive action which is unauthorized in the Constitution. And I think this court may have the courage to go on offense, and begin to reverse some of the previous rulings which have perverted our legal system. The area of administrative law is one obvious target. Biden and the Democrats can be put on defense

Robb Myers is a long haul trucker, running his 18 Wheeler on the treacherous Dalton Highway, north from Fairbanks to the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay on the shores of the Arctic Ocean.  On Wednesday of this week he was fighting the weather on the Alaska Highway, somewhere in the Yukon Territory, heading back from Haines, when he got the news.  The delayed count of absentees showed he’d won, and would serve a four year term in the Alaska Legislature’s upper chamber.

Only in Alaska.  Only in America.  And only in the new, improved, Republican Party.

Fritz Pettyjohn was an early and avid supporter of Myers for Senate.  In the early 1980’s he served in the Alaska State Senate with the recently deceased Jack Coghill.

[This appeared a couple days ago in American Thinker]