Government Issue A BONUS OF CRISIS FROM PRICE DANIEL I AUSTIN It was not a good week for Standard of New Jersey, for Magnolia, for their Texas front organization, MidContinent Oil and Gas Assn., or the other oil and gas giants that have been calling the shots in these parts since before this reporter was born. The Governor hit them where they lived and as a result, before the 56th Legislature is history we’ll all know a lot more about the inner workings of Price Daniel, 181 legislators, and an uncounted number of lobbyists, petrol variety. The ‘Governor’s blast at the oil industry and the sales taxers in the Carr-appointed House tax committee has suddenly earned him the widespread but so far silent respect of the working Capitol press corps. If the Governor means what he says, and some of his supporters do swear that he does, this 1959 legislature is going to slug its way to the kind of crisis and resolution that not only clarifies political lines but tests individual integrity on a wholesale basis. Laying aside for the moment the question to what extent the conservative Legislative Budget Board’s “bare bones” recommendations mean inadequate schools, hospitals, correctional institutions, et al ; laying aside to what extent the governor’s budget applies a too-thin layer of lean meat to the bones ; the showdown on taxes to meet any budget is going to strip our lawmakers down to their naked convictions. It’s just getting so there isn’t anyplace to hide. Newspapermen who are used to years of the old song and dance that passes for one-party conservative politics in Texas are looking MARSHALL There is a crudeness in the efforts of Sen. Johnson to plant a column from the Bryan Daily Eagle in weekly papers that is not often encountered in his oily manipulations. By a letter of February 27, 1959, the city editor of the Bryan Daily Eagle circularized editors of small weeklies in Texas in an of fort to gain publication of comments on a Texas poll that had been mentioned in a column in the Eagle. The communication was on the letterhead of the Bryan Daily Eagle, but although the hand was that of Esau, the voice was distinctly that of Jacob. So Jacoby, in fact, the letter came from one of Sen. Johnson’s typing machines that produces his baby blue Newsletter, as was apparent from comparison. One of the more interesting facets of the enterprise, however, rests in examination of the watermark on the paper on which was reproduced the proposed column, “Your Town and Mine.” Unmistakably it showed the American spread eagle with a star above his head and was identical, feather for feather, with the watermark on the letterhead used by Sen. Johnson in communicating with the faithful. It took a bit of doing, with false whiskers and blue goggles, to locate the letter, but be assured the eagle spreads alike in each watermark. “And,” one sentence of the column reads, “looking to 1960, the same what is already known : The Senate majority leader ranks far ahead of others prominently mentioned on the national scene.” Sunday news releases arouse justifiable curiosity as to whom the Texas Senator wishes to rank with or far ahead of. The Congressional Quarterly puts him, to bed with Walter Reuther and Hubert H. Humphrey of on with wry anticipation. The prospect of reporting what Representative Whoozit saysand knowing that for once the statement may in general correspond to what he really thinksis so new to Texas newspapermen that for the first time in memory there is a possibility of news stories bearing a more than passing similarity to the real meaning of the event being reported. Newsmen can’t, after all, invent news, they have to quote what was actually said, and if the legislative process is so obscure that the statements don’t reflect light on the actual meaning of the news, the resulting stories don’t either. But in the frantic infighting now developing on the sales-vs-natural gas tax, there is not going to be much room for the kind of subtleties that obscure meaning. You’re either for a sales tax or you’re not. You either want to tax Standard of New Jersey or you want to soak the Texans. It’s just that simple. All of which constitutes, if you will, the bonus of crisis. And parliamentary crisis we are headed for \(always with the proviso that the Governor means i\\Iinnesota through the of forts of James H. Rowe, Jr., almost characterized as a personal envoy of Sen. Johnson to Minnesota. Sena Humphrey seems willing to share the blanket with a grin, as quoted from the Congressional Record : “Well, I don’t know what kind of implication you want to draw \(from Rowe’s backing close friend of Lyndon’s, and Lyndon has said all along he would not be a candidate.” A soothsayer did not have to be retained to tell us that the bedding down of Lyndon and Walter Reuther would not be greeted with universal acclaim throughout Texas. Lyndon’s chief journalistic booster, the Dallas Morning News, refused to Jet the ink dry on the Quarterly report without a defense by its correspondent designated to be Lyndon’s apologist. It was a masterpiece in “Now you see it and now you don’t” writing. First, Johnson really means he does not want to be the nominee, but then again, the major significance of his relations with Humphrey, Kennedy, and Symington is that they individually would probably be inclined to swing their convention votes to him if their own chances became hopeless. So, therefore, Johnson could not be for Humphrey, because he would of fend others who may help in getting him the nomination he does not want. The true key, to the piece is that the Dallas News knows Johnson is safe according to its standards and would mistrust any other candidate that the Democratic Party might bring forward. “And looking to 1960 …”, how did the Bryan Daily Eagle find itself circulated on the wings of the American eagle watermark? FRANKLIN JONES DANIEL’S Monday statement draws the lines clearly, beginning with the first two sentences : “In a carefully planned campaign to place the burden of new taxes on hardpressed family budgets instead of their own booming corporate profits, Texas’s most powerful lobby in 20 years is fighting to delay every phase of the tax program I have submitted to the Legislature. Under its propaganda slogan of ‘broad-based’ taxation this lobby, representing principally the big gas companies, is trying to convince the legislature and the public that `ability to pay’ should no longer guide Texas in its taxing policies.” The temptation immediately arises to ask the Governor when “ability to pay’ EVER guided the taxing policies in our state. Pardon the unappreciative digression. In other respects, the Governor is quite explicit: “booming corporate profits … carefully planned campaign … propaganda slogan of ‘broad-base’ taxation” these phrases get awfully close to what legislators are fond of calling the meat in the cocoanut. Daniel’s words merely accurately describe a situation that even the House doorkeeper knows quite thoroughly. It’s just that legislators don’t often get accurate descriptions, publicly like this, out in print where even Mrs. Zilch down at the cross-roads can read it. After all, Mrs. Zilch can vote, and this manifestly casts a new On page two of the Governor’s lengthy war whoop comes the statement, “As of this date, I do not criticize any legislator who has been misled by the ‘broad base’ propaganda. The term sounds fair, but it was coined by selfish interests w h o thought it could lead the way to a general sales tax which is actually a gross income tax on every person who spends all he makes each month.” He does not criticize “as of this date.” That’s the nearest thing to a tossed gauntlet from the Governor’s Mansion in a long, long, long time. , The Governor’s statement is simply filled with unpleasant facts. Witness this : “the ‘broad-base’ objective is to get a general sales tax, under that or some other. name, saddled upon the pocketbooks of the housewives, salaried people, wage earners …” Or this: A “thinly spread tax would not be missed by the 40,000 corporations which netted over $2.5 billion from their Texas business last year, but it would be a hard blow to the majority of the families of this state. whose gross earnings average less than $340 per month …. It is manifestly unfair to tax a man in proportion to the children he must support.” Before he was done, Daniel specifically targeted the Speaker of the House and Phillips Petroleum, “which made over $90 million last year and which is fighting so hard against my proposed increase in the corporation franchise tax.” It is too early to assay the actual impact of all this. It’s potential meaning is frighteningly clear to oil and gas interests, who have already begun counter-attacking through their lawyers appearing before the tax committee. There, it might be noted, they are running into a drum-fire of countercounter-attacking from Rep. Joe Ed Winfree, who is carrying the ball for the Governor’s corporate franchise tax. To Andrew Howsley of MidContinent Oil and Gas, to J. H. Foster of Phillips Petroleum, to B. M. Britain of Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America, to F. L. Kuykendall of Lone Star GasCol. Winfree posed the same question : “How much profit did your company make last year ?” It is an embarrassing question. The answers are not too edifying. Howsley : “I don’t know.” Kuykendall: Lone Star Transmission Co. \(subsidmillion last year … I don’t know how much the parent company made.” Britain : “I don’t know how much profit or how much this bill would cost my company in taxes. I didn’t come here to bother this committee with statistics.” SO THE BATTLE is on. The Governor’s stock will doubtless go down in the Republican press in inverse ratio to its upward swing among commoner folk. The ink was hardly dry on the Governor’s press statement before the Austin American fired off a lengthy reply asking, among other things, “Is it justice to single out the least-politically potent elements of a population, such as cigar smokers-and whisky drinkers, and lay on them the expense of caring for all of Texas’s needs when many, or most, of those occasioning the needs escape the burden?” The paper went on to point out the “golden opportunity” the Governor and the legislature are missing to prepare the tax structure for present and future needs and concluded that the citizens of the state “deserve more leadership than they’ve been getting at the state level.” From up in. Bartlesville, Okla., the President of Phillips Petroleum advised that the oil and , gas industry “and corporations” cannot absorb further tax increases because the profit margin is becoming “dangerously close.” The statement contained a tolerable amount of statistics but not, unfortunately, the most pertinent one, how much profit Phillips made last year. No matter, that statistic and several hundred others will be bouncing around in news stories before long. This one is going to be a long, sticky fight and before the battle is done, a lot of consciences are going to be tested and a host of lobbyists are going to earn record retainers, once again with the proviso that the Governor has drawn his line and intends to stand behind it and fight. Old Man Oil is powerful, he has the lure of lucre which stuff has never been a liability in Austin. He may yet escape with his boodle intact, trailing a legacy of sales taxes for the citizenry to juggle. But he has lost his chance to do it quietly, as in days of yore. The battle is open. L.G. THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 5 March 21, 1959
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