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Alaska Editorial: Democrats never let good news go to waste

Posted: April 14, 2014 - 11:02pm

The following editorial first appeared in the Alaska Journal of Commerce:

The news from the North Slope continues to trend in a positive direction with the latest announcement that production is 13,600 barrels per day better than the Revenue Department forecast in December, and that the annual production decline for the current fiscal year is projected to be just 1.8 percent.

In a sane political world (we could imagine one, right? OK, never mind), that news would be greeted with cheer. But we live in a state where the Democrat party never lets good news go to waste and they held true to form April 7 by continuing to poo-poo the positives because real events don’t fit into their preferred political narrative.

“I don’t know how you read these (numbers) and take anything good away from this,” said Sen. Bill Wielechowski, who never misses a chance to miss the mark when it comes to math.

Democrats, you see, have every reason to be frustrated after spending years attacking Gov. Sean Parnell, legislators and oil companies and shrieking about an oil tax “giveaway” that they claimed offered no assurances of increased production or investment.

Well too bad for them, because BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil are currently spending billions of new dollars on the Slope, and Democrats can’t deny that.

They also can’t deny metered production from the Slope, which is better than expected just four months into the new tax regime and amounts to nearly $400 million in additional funds to the state treasury.

They can’t deny the dollars are being spent. They can’t deny metered production from the Slope fields. So they keep screaming giveaway and pointing to the out years of the forecast as proof that a tax policy in place for exactly four months isn’t working.

Some day they may realize how ridiculous they sound but I’m not buying any squares in that pool.

The Revenue Department is, as it should be, conservative in the out years. After 2017, the forecast reverts to the long-term historical average decline beginning at 4.8 percent in 2018 and steepening to 8 percent by 2023 with a projection of just 315,000 barrels per day.

“See! See!” the Democrats say, “that’s proof the policy isn’t working.”

Good grief.

One can only imagine if the Revenue Department released a rosier forecast.

The time would be measured in milliseconds between such an announcement and the Democrat press release accusing Parnell’s administration of cooking the books to make his tax policy look better.

That’s the box the Democrats have put themselves in.

After years of touting the supposed benefits of ACES despite no increase in production, they now find themselves in the odd position of greeting a measurable gain in production with scorn because acknowledging it doesn’t help them politically.

Yet they still have the gall to claim they are fighting for Alaska’s “fair share” when all they are really doing is playing games with the state’s future.

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James Coleman
James Coleman 04/15/14 - 05:53 am
Excellent article

You would think that Democrats would applaud any increase in state revenue, it would mean more entitlements (or at least a way to fund them). But, in their murky world income vs. spending doesn't hold any relationship. Here come the cries of climate change now.

Karl Ashenbrenner
Karl Ashenbrenner 04/15/14 - 06:40 am
Revenue projections that

seem to get better as we get closer to the vote in August to repeal SB21. Meanwhile the Legislative Revenue forcast is for 2.5 billion less revenue each year over the next 10 years. And don't go to the "oil price has dropped" excuse because it hasn't. The price of a barrel of oil is within 5 dollars of what it was last year. And as far as "entitlements" goes....BAD excuse unless you count as entitlements the overblown legislative cost for office space in Anchorage and the bloated capital budget that mainly is spent for the benefit of businesses.

Janice Murphy
Janice Murphy 04/15/14 - 07:55 am
Just a political ad

When I see a misuse of the word Democrat it's my first clue. To see the author being influenced by talk radio to the exclusion of all other information is my second. First grade education should tell the author of this piece that the word is Democratic in the context he/she is using it. For me, it just nullifies any words that follow. It's childish and as far as I can remember, was started by Limbaugh. What an influence.

Art Petersen
Art Petersen 04/15/14 - 05:18 pm

a state revenue department estimation was incorrect and North Slope production is 13,600 more per day than was forecast. Wishful thinkers, gamblers, and the AJC editorial attribute this forecast mistake to the passage of SB 21, the huge giveaway of income from Alaska's oil. But this is just a standard, unrealistic argument for "supply side" economics, the position that the lower taxes are and the higher profitability is with the least regulation possible will lead to the greatest productivity and highest benefit to all. In other words, Alaskans should be satisfied with smaller change while the most profitable industry in the world takes in more profit. Haven't we had enough of that? And in this case, first, the small increase in daily output cannot be attributed to the passage of SB 21, at least not as a result of investment because it's too soon. The oil industry, however, may have decided to open the spigot a twist to produce the illusion of immediate cause/effect. TV ads certainly push how the SB 21 money is already producing results.

It's easy to tell where this editorial is coming from with all the accusations made against members of the Democratic Party. It's certain where it's coming from when the following flag is raised: "Democrat Party." The name was "Democratic Party" from 1828 until attempts to change it by an opposition party occurred about year 1940 with Thomas E. Dewey. Next came Senator Joe McCarthy and his followers, followed by Newt Gingrich and the new ultra Republican right wing. I myself am a registered Independent, but it's still offensive to see a party called by a name different than it's called itself for 186 years. "Democrat" with a capital is a proper noun, and in its adjectival form as it modifies "party," it becomes "Democratic Party." The change makes as much sense as turning the adjective "republican" back into the noun from which it comes, producing "Republic Party."

So the article is badly slanted, even about going back to ACES. SB 21 should be repealed, triggering a return to ACES, which then should be adjusted equitably. Members of the Democratic Party have already proposed what that could look like so that Alaskans aren't robbed of a "maximum" fair share of their resource. Perhaps it can't be said often enough that Alaska's oil belongs to Alaskans, not the oil companies. And that the Alaska Constitution reads that the natural resources of Alaska shall accrue to "the maximum benefit of its people" (Article VIII, Natural Resources, Section 2).

Tom Leston
Tom Leston 04/15/14 - 08:41 am
The truth is Democrats know

The truth is Democrats know our oil is drying up and so there will be no increased production. And Republicans, they just like giving the publics money away to industry.

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