In Alaska, a heated battle is being fought over whether to reverse one of Sarah Palin’s signature accomplishments as governor, the drastically increased oil tax system that she called “ACES, Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share.”
As I note in Unlikely Liberal, Palin’s new oil tax was the largest tax increase in Alaska’s history. The attack on her oil tax legacy is being led by Republicans, including her replacement as governor, Sean Parnell (a former oil company lobbyist); most of those defending Palin’s oil tax Democrats.
Earlier in March, the state senate voted 11 -9 to roll back her big oil tax increase and give back billions of dollars to the oil industry. (Only Republicans voted for it; only two Republicans voted against it.)
In Alaska’s 2012 elections, the oil industry and its allies made a concerted effort to take out senate defenders of Palin’s oil tax.
They succeeded. Two Republicans and three Democrats were defeated, enabling the industry to get a pro-oil majority in the Senate, which had blocked previous efforts to give back billions to the oil industry.
In Alaska, Palin has done nothing noticeable to defend her tax legacy against the Republican rollback effort. On the national stage, she does continue to defend it, including her recent appearance at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Committee.
That perplexed Craig Medred, a columnist at the Alaska Dispatch, an online news site. In Palin’s CPAC speech, he writes, she “rolled out communism as the model for resource development,” and he accused her of “channeling [Karl] Marx” in giving Alaska a “Venezuela-style oil tax.”
State government is stinking rich up here thanks to the Palin-championed oil tax. … By the time she rose to power, she fully understood how to expand the size of government without any damn Alaska conservatives getting upset with her — grab the throat of the Golden Goose of oil, squeeze harder, and demand that sucker produce more golden eggs. Teamed with Alaska House Democrats, she conjured up some political wizardry to tax Big Oil to a degree it had never been taxed in America before.
Medred is a polemicist who will gladly distort important aspects of a subject to make his point, and in his eagerness to tar Palin as a Marxist oil-taxer, he shows a fundamental ignorance of the important difference between Communism and socialism.
Most of Alaska’s oil is produced from lands owned by state government, so its oil revenue system can fairly be called a form of socialism, but it’s NOT communism. (There isn’t going to be a revolution of the proletariat in Alaska, heralding a classless society and the abolition of all private property. Too many Alaskans own too many guns for that too happen! While communism is a form of socialism, not all socialism is communism. It’s Logic 101: When all A = B, it does not mean all B = A.)
Nonetheless, Medred’s polemic does point out a paradox for Palin’s supporters in the Lower 49 states. As he writes about Palin’s defense of her huge oil tax increase at the CPAC convention, “Conservatives supposedly like free markets. And yet there they were applauding Palin.”