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?