When former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee ran for President in 2008, he did so in the guise of a conservative. But those of us who listened closely to his speeches heard a message that was far from compatible with the ideals of limited government and expanded liberty: two benchmarks of conservatism by any measure. Instead we heard Huckabee openly support a nationwide, federally mandated smoking ban, and expanding the powers of the federal government to mandate limits on carbon emissions via cap and trade.
Because of the exponential growth things like a national smoking ban and cap and trade legislation would cause in the size of government, Rush Limbaugh often warned that Huckabee was a “populist” rather than a conservative. In other words, Huckabee had a good grasp on how to give speeches in the vernacular of heartland America, but his solutions to the problems faced by those same people rested in an expansion of government for which the constitution made no provision. (Like Clinton, Huckabee could feel our pain, and like Obama, he could ease that pain via government intervention.)
And believe it or not, Huckabee’s record on taxes (and tax increases) is even more dismal than his record on smoking bans and cap and trade legislation. While Governor of Arkansas, he literally begged state legislators to support tax increases on the citizens of that state.
When Arkansas faced what FOX NEWS’ Carl Cameron described as “general revenue shortfall in the state budget,” a desperate Huckabee stood before the state legislature and told them he’d found a way to meet Arkansas’ near $100 million shortfall:
“There’s a lot of support for a tax at the wholesale level for tobacco, and that’s fine with me. I will be very happy to sign that, because it’s a revenue stream that will…help us meet that 90 to 100 million target.
Some have suggested [a tax on] the retail level of tobacco. If that ends up being your preference I will accept that. Others have suggested a surcharge on the income tax. That’s acceptable: I’m fine with that. Others have suggested perhaps a sales tax. That’s fine.
Yet others have suggested a hybrid [tax] that would collect some monies from any one or a combination of [these] various ideas. And if that’s the plan the House and Senate agree upon, you will have nothing but my profound thanks.”
Not only was Huckabee’s support for any and every tax scheme imaginable antithetical to the conservative mind, but the way he groveled before the legislature was shameful: not at all indicative of a leader.
To make matters worse, when Huckabee ran for president in 2008, he tried to pawn himself off as a tax cutter while refusing to apologize for his tax increases. When Face the Nation’s Bob Schieffer cornered him on these things, Huckabee said: “I worked with our legislature and we got major improvements done on our school system…without [which] our kids would still be languishing in last place. …I don’t apologize for raising the expectations and the hopes and the opportunities for the kids in my state. I don’t apologize for building roads either.” (Note: Huckabee seems to equate raising taxes with raising “expectations” when the revenue raised is spent on education.)
Isn’t this always the response we get from tax hikers? They never want to talk about the money they took from the people: they just want to point out all the wonderful things they bought with the money they confiscated through higher taxes.
Rush was right when he discerned the populist strain in Huckabee’s message, and that strain threatens the very conservatism Huckabee claims to embrace.
We don’t need a Republican presidential candidate for whom government is the solution. Rather, we need someone who lives by Reagan’s mantra: “Government isn’t the solution, government is the problem.” Huckabee has these things reversed in his mind.