Saturday, August 25, 2007

What Worries Me About Mike Huckabee

Byron York in National Review's print addition has an interesting piece o former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. After reading the article, I continue to view Huckabee as a mixed bag.

I remember the debate among the Republican hopefuls in early May, in California. I had heard Huckabee's name several times over the years but hadn't really had much exposure to him up this point. Of course, I started watching the debate a number of minutes in, so I wasn't readily familiar with every candidate (in terms of putting names to faces), but there was one guy there whom the moderator kept referring to as "Governor".

Have to tell you, I was pretty fascinated by this guy. He was polished, confident, well spoken, and had addressed every issue to this point in a way I'd envisioned the heir-apparent of Reagan to. Then, he stuck the knife in my heart with this (bold emphasis mine):

The most important thing a president needs to do(?) is to make it clear that we're not going to continue to see jobs shipped overseas, jobs that are lost by American workers, many in their 50s who, for 20 and 30 years, have worked to make a company rich, and then watch as a CEO takes a $100 million bonus to jettison those American jobs somewhere else. And the worker not only loses his job, but he loses his pension.

That's criminal. It's wrong. And if Republicans don't stop it, we don't deserve to win in 2008.

And that, folks, is where he lost me. Where to begin with this statement? For starters, its none of Huckabee's business how much of a bonus a CEO makes. Second, its a poor choice of words to say that implementing protectionist practice is "the most important thing a president needs to do." The most important thing a president needs to do is defend the nation from attack. I'll let that go for now. Third, Huckabee's protectionist mindset continues the absurdity among the Left that corporations exist to keep a six pack of Pabst in Joe Lunchbucket's refrigerator. Corporations - anyone in business, with a mom and pop operation or a large corporate entity - exist to turn a profit. The harder regulators and other liberal busybodies make it for them to do so, the more apt they are to look elsewhere to do business. What's criminal and wrong and will make Republicans unworthy of election is to embrace this statement of Huckabee's and others like it. Folks, I've said this repeatedly over the years and I'll say it again. Corporations exist to turn a profit for the shareholders. Period. They don't exist for you. Its a free market reality that you're going to have to own up to at some point if you want a vibrant, growing economy. Every Left Wing bit of prattle against "Corporate America" shows a lack of understanding of this concept.

Pat Toomey and Andrew Roth at The Club For Growth are apparently on Huckabee's enemies list as well. And with good reason, they exposed his less than stellar fiscal record as governor.


  • Immediately upon taking office, Governor Huckabee signed a sales tax hike in 1996 to fund the Games and Fishing Commission and the Department of Parks and Tourism (Cato Policy Analysis No. 315, 09/03/98).
  • He supported an internet sales tax in 2001 (Americans for Tax Reform 01/07/07).
  • He publicly opposed the repeal of a sales tax on groceries and medicine in 2002 (Arkansas News Bureau 08/30/02).
  • He signed bills raising taxes on gasoline (1999), cigarettes (2003) (Americans for Tax Reform 01/07/07), and a $5.25 per day bed-tax on private nursing home patients in 2001 (Arkansas New Bureau 03/01/01).
  • He proposed another sales take hike in 2002 to fund education improvements (Arkansas News Bureau 12/05/02).
  • He opposed a congressional measure to ban internet taxes in 2003 (Arkansas News Bureau 11/21/03).
  • In 2004, he allowed a 17% sales tax increase to become law (The Gurdon Times 03/02/04).

Under Governor Huckabee's watch, state spending increased a whopping 65.3% from 1996 to 2004, three times the rate of inflation (Americans for Tax Reform 01/07/07). The number of state government workers rose 20% during his tenure (Arkansas Leader 04/15/06), and the state's general obligation debt shot up by almost $1 billion, according to Americans for Tax Reform. The massive increase in government spending is due in part to the number of new programs and expansion of already existing programs initiated by Governor Huckabee, including ARKids First, a multimillion-dollar government program to provide health coverage for thousands of Arkansas' children (Arkansas News Bureau 04/13/06).

With regards to regulation, Huckabee:

  • Raised the minimum wage in April 2006 from $5.15 to $6.25 an hour and encouraged Congress to take the same initiative on a national level (US Newswire 08/03/06), a proposal that President Bush and most congressional GOP members oppose.
  • Sought to take revenue from his tax hike proposal to be used on economic development projects in 2002 (AP, 11/22/02).
  • Threatened to investigate price-gouging after 9/11 if gasoline prices went up too high (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 09/12/01).
  • Ordered regulatory agencies in Arkansas to investigate price-gouging in the nursing home industry (AP, 06/15/01).
  • Signed a bill into law that would prevent companies from raising their prices a mere 10% ahead of a natural disaster. Services like roof repair and tree removal were targeted (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 03/07/97).
So, in York's NR piece, its not surprising that Huckabee referred to The Club For Growth as "The Club For Greed." Folks, anytime a politician uses the word "greed" when referring to anything other than government, watch out. In other spots in the article, Huckabee committed other sins that sent sirens blaring in my mind. When defending a grocery tax, Huckabee said (bold emphasis mine) "we had already made deep [budget] cuts, and if you cut the grocery tax, there was no way to make it up."

You know, the old "how are we going to pay for your tax cut" line that too many politicians are comfortable with. Until every legislature in the country begins scoring high on CFG's RePork Card, I don't want to hear about "paying for tax cuts". From any politician.

When discussing the internet sales tax, Huckabee supported it because "It's simply a way to create a level playing field for taxes for Internet merchants as well as Main Street merchants (again, bold emphasis mine)."

Three things that I expect to come from the mouth of Hillary Clinton, came from the mouth of a Republican running for President: Greed, paying for (making up for) tax cuts, and creating a level playing field. Come on, Mike. If you don't mean these things, choose your words better.

This is not to say that there aren't very redeeming qualities about Huckabee. There are, but I can't support a candidate for any elected office that clings to protectionism and government meddling in a market economy. These are dangerous traits for any politician. And disappointing traits for a Republican running for the Presidential nomination.