2007 December 09 Sunday
Robert Novak: Mike Huckabee A False Conservative

Robert Novak sees Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee as bad news for the Republican Party.

The rise of evangelical Christians as the force that blasted the GOP out of minority status during the past generation always contained an inherent danger: What if these new Republican acolytes supported not merely a conventional conservative but one of their own? That has happened with Huckabee, a former Baptist minister educated at Ouachita Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The danger is a serious contender for the nomination who passes the litmus test of social conservatives on abortion, gay marriage and gun control but is far removed from the conservative-libertarian model of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

There is no doubt about Huckabee's record during a decade in Little Rock. He was regarded by fellow Republican governors as a compulsive tax-and-spender. He increased the Arkansas tax burden 47 percent, boosting the levies on gasoline and cigarettes. When he lost 100 pounds and decided to press his new lifestyle on the American people, he was hardly being a Goldwater-Reagan libertarian.

The parallels with George W. Bush are obvious. They both make much about their religious beliefs and appeal to the Religious Right. But they also aren't fiscal conservatives. As President Bush spent much more than people on the Right hoped or expected. But Bush's record as governor of Texas was not as bad (someone correct me if I'm wrong) as Huckabee's as governor of Arkansas. So Huckabee starts out to the left of Bush on spending.

Both Bush and Huckabee are most notably out of step with the Republican base on immigration and Huckabee is for amnesty for illegals while pretending not to be. Just as immigration restrictionists are attacking Huckabee on his immigration positions anti-tax organizations are organizing attacks against Huckabee on spending.

Washington – Club for Growth.Net will begin running ads on Monday nationwide, urging taxpayers to Call Mike Huckabee and challenge him on his tax policy.

To emphasize Mike Huckabee’s eager support for tax increases, the ad excerpts a 2003 clip of Mike Huckabee rattling off a list of tax increases he deems acceptable. While the former governor will argue that he had no choice and was bound by state law to balance the budget, the 2003 clip is emblematic of Huckabee’s ten-year tenure in which raising taxes was his first resort. Many cities and states have balanced budget laws like Arkansas, but not all governors and mayors embrace higher taxes the way Mike Huckabee did. Some actually cut government spending and waste in order to make ends meet. But under Mike Huckabee’s tenure, the average Arkansas tax burden increased 47%. Mike Huckabee’s support for tax hikes include:

  • 1996 Sales Tax Hike: Huckabee campaigned for an amendment to raise the sales tax
  • 1999 Gas and Diesel Fuel Tax Hike
  • 2001 Cigarette Tax Hike
  • 2001 Nursing Home Bed Tax
  • 2002 Grocery Tax: Huckabee opposed repeal
  • 2003 Income Surcharge Tax
  • 2003 Tobacco Tax Hike
  • Taxes on Internet Access
  • 2006 Beer Tax: Huckabee opposed letting the tax expire

“Mike Huckabee is telling folks that he cut taxes 94 times, but the truth is, Huckabee’s tax increases far surpassed his tax cuts, and taxpayers deserve to know the truth,” said Club for Growth.Net President Pat Toomey. “The purpose of this ad is to educate taxpayers so they can ask Mike Huckabee why he supported all those tax increases.”

Romney's Mormonism is viewed with enough suspicion by conventional Christians that Huckabee has an opening. But why can't Republican party operative come up with a candidate who appeals to Christians while also opposing tax increases and strongly favoring an end to illegal immigration? Does some Republican governor fit the bill?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 December 09 12:04 PM  Politics American Right

Ned said at December 10, 2007 8:48 AM:

"Romney's Mormonism is viewed with enough suspicion by conventional Christians that Huckabee has an opening. But why can't Republican party operative come up with a candidate who appeals to Christians while also opposing tax increases and strongly favoring an end to illegal immigration? Does some Republican governor fit the bill?"

It is a perplexing question. None of the Republican candidates seems to quite "fit." As you point out, the hard core Christians love Huckabee, but he doesn't go over well with the fiscal conservatives. And he doesn't do well with the anti-immigrationists. McCain also has a lot of immigration baggage, as well as McCain-Feingold. McCain's fiscal record is mixed - a strong deficit hawk, but an opponent of the Bush tax cuts. Giuliani, as former mayor of America's most liberal city, and Romney, as former governor of its most liberal state, have big-time credibility problems on social issues. Plus a lot of people are suspicious of Romney's Mormon faith. However, Romney's family life is exemplary, while Giuliani's is a bit sordid, to say the least. Some may have looked to Fred Thompson as an alternative, but he doesn't seem to be going anywhere. And Ron Paul is, well, Ron Paul, a true wild card in the race. This may illustrate how diverse the American conservative movement has become - Ronald Reagan was the last leader who really seemed to pull it all together, but is it truly that difficult? I don't know why the Republicans seem to be having such problems, but right now the race seems completely up in the air. Who can predict who will eventually get the nomination? And a lot of Republicans think the nomination is really worth having, especially if the Democratic candidate is Ms. Hillary, whom many regard as beatable because of her very high negatives. Their thinking is that, if a Republican candidate such as Romney or Giuliani can hang on to the traditional base in the South and West and run even with Hillary in the Northeast, Midwest and Far West, they will have the White House for another four years. One Republican congressman recently told me that he thinks the GOP has a good chance to retake the House if the lass from New York runs for the Democrats. True? Who knows? But watch out what you wish for - you might get it. In 1992, Bill Clinton started off as a very weak candidate for the Democrats and ended up winning. Of course, he didn't, at least at that time, have her high negatives - it took him years to develop his own. One thing is sure - 2008 promises to be the most interesting political year in a long time. So stay tuned ....

MlR said at December 13, 2007 8:32 PM:

Thompson can do it, but right now he's getting starved for lack of oxygen.

Jayson Rex said at January 26, 2013 4:44 AM:

In spite of all arguments to the contrary by "what is left of the left", a.k.a. Democrats, the salvation of the free world depends entirely on the Republicans winning the White House and both Houses of Congress. In the hands of Barack Hussein Obama, we are all in deep trouble but the majority refuses to admit it.

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