Shortly before voting against the Democratic climate, health and tax package on Friday, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Bice blasted the proposed tax increases, echoing her earlier criticism about raising taxes in a recession.
"This partisan legislation is full of new tax hikes which will negatively impact Oklahomans throughout my district,'' Bice, R-Oklahoma City, said in a speech on the House floor.
Four years ago, as a member of the Oklahoma Senate, Bice voted for a major Republican package that raised state taxes on gasoline, cigarettes, and oil and gas production.
Under criticism for that vote in her run for Congress two years ago, Bice said she was facing the fourth year of budget cuts amid an economic downturn and that she made a tough choice for the future of Oklahoma.
The congresswoman's office did not respond to questions this week about her positions, including her insistence that the country is currently in a recession and whether Oklahoma was in a recession when she voted for the tax increases
Every Oklahoma congressional representative voted against the package, which passed the House and Senate
All five Oklahomans in the House joined the rest of Republicans on Friday in opposing the package, which passed 220 to 207. Oklahoma's senators voted against the bill on Sunday. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the legislation soon.
Rep. Tom Cole, of Moore, also slammed the tax portion of the bill this week, along with the major boost in funding for the Internal Revenue Service.
"These new taxes will fall on every taxpayer, and the IRS will focus on every taxpayer," Cole said.
"Policies like these are bad enough in good times, but raising taxes when we are in a recession - even if (Democrats) won't admit it - violates every basic principle of good economics, not to mention common sense."
Democrats defended the bill, saying it would lower prescription drug prices for seniors, help millions of Americans afford health insurance, further subsidize clean energy sources and provide drought relief to western states.
"It will enable the U.S. to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 through investments like my clean hydrogen provision and make it more affordable for families to purchase energy and cost-saving products like electric vehicles and solar panels," said Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash.
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Analysis shows bill will have 'negligible effect on inflation'
According to Senate Democrats, the bill would raise $737 billion over 10 years, with $265 billion of that coming from estimated savings on drugs purchased by Medicare, the health insurance program for seniors. A new 15% tax on corporations - which Democrats say targets companies that evade taxes under the current code - would raise an estimated $222 billion over 10 years. A 1% tax on company stock buybacks would raise an estimated $74 billion over 10 years.
Most of the rest of new revenue, $124 billion, comes from increasing IRS audits. Democrats contend additional audits would focus on wealthier taxpayers, but Republicans have made the IRS portion a major rallying cry against the bill, arguing that all taxpayers would become targets.
Spending on clean energy and health care subsidies would cost an estimated $437 billion, leaving $300 billion in deficit reduction over the next decade, according to Democrats.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said last week the bill, called the Inflation Reduction Act, would have a "negligible effect on inflation" in calendar year 2022, and little impact, if any, in calendar year 2023.
Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, accused Democrats of doubling down on the policies that have fueled inflation in the United States.
"Unfortunately for the American people, Washington Democrats' solution to record-setting inflation is spending hundreds of billions more and increasing taxes on American businesses," he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said, "Proudly, this legislation is a giant step forward in President Biden and Democrats' relentless commitment to justice: from economic and health equity to tax fairness to environmental justice. And in keeping with Democrats' fiscal responsibility, all of these monumental investments are fully paid for - ensuring the biggest corporations and ultra-rich tax cheats pay their fair share."
Energy industry advocacy groups come out against bill
The Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma joined a letter sent by the American Petroleum Institute to House leaders on Thursday arguing against the bill. The API letter says the package would impose an $11.7 billion tax on crude oil and petroleum products; establish a new $6.3 billion tax on natural gas; and it excludes reforms to the process for permitting oil and gas projects on federal land.
Democrats have promised to approve legislation later this year to streamline permitting and clear the way for a 300-mile pipeline that was a condition for the support of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia.
An analysis of the oil and gas provisions by Taxpayers for Common Sense says the bill would "finally bring the federal leasing system into the 21st century." Among the reforms cited by the group were increased royalty rates for taxpayers and an end to noncompetitive leasing by oil and gas companies.
Bice, whose district includes several oil and gas companies - including Devon, Continental Resources and Chesapeake Energy - assailed the oil and gas provisions in the bill, including the increases on leasing and royalty rates for drilling on federal land.
Four years ago, Bice cast a vote for the $447 million tax package that increased the initial tax rate on oil and gas wells from 2 percent to 5 percent for the first three years, with the rate rising to 7 percent after that. The bill also raised the state gasoline tax by 3 cents per gallon and the diesel tax by 6 cents per gallon.
The increase on the gross production tax was opposed by the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association and the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association. The tax hike funded a teacher pay raise that year and has contributed to a huge boost in state revenues in recent months as crude prices have risen.
When Bice ran for Congress two years ago, the Washington, D.C.-based Club for Growth spent heavily to try to defeat her because of the tax vote. One of her GOP primary opponents also criticized the vote.
At a debate, Bice defended her vote by saying that the state budget had been slashed for three straight years because of the economic downturn, caused in part by plunging oil prices.
"I've been cutting services, I've been cutting the fat, I've been doing that," she said then. "But at some point, you've got to lead and you've got to make some tough choices, and I did that for Oklahoma and the future of Oklahoma."
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Bice blasts taxes in climate bill, despite raising taxes in 2018