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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Ross Kaminsky

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Ross Kaminsky

Last Build Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2007 00:28:19 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2008

Don't Let Huckabee Inside the Tent

Fri, 21 Dec 2007 00:28:19 -0600

During the 2006 campaign, the only emails I received which argued that the GOP would maintain its majorities in both houses of Congress came from social conservatives. But that election - in which the social conservatives seemed to be the only ones really satisfied with Republicans -- proved the Republican Party can not win simply by pandering to evangelical voters while ignoring fiscal conservatives and libertarians. The voters showed that when faced with a Democrat or with a Republican who acts like a Democrat on fiscal issues, they'll go with the real big-spender rather than the wannabe. At least voters don't then feel that they or their representatives are hypocrites; they're getting the government they were promised...even if it's not the government they want. If there is a poster boy for this problem, it's Mike Huckabee. Mike Huckabee is charismatic and appealing on first glance, and of course he must be in order to have been a successful pastor. He worked in radio since he was a boy and later became president of a religiously-oriented television station where he also hosted programs. Huckabee's career has been built on being at least superficially appealing and good at offering enough sound bites to keep an audience satisfied an hour at a time. But should this master of the sound bite, who panders to the religious right on social issues but otherwise is the furthest thing from a fiscal or constitutional conservative among all the GOP candidates, become President of the United States? In their 2006 Fiscal Policy Report Card on America's Governors, the libertarian Cato Institute noted that Huckabee "went from being one of the best governors in America to one of the worst. He receives an F for his current term and a D for his entire tenure. The main reason for the drop was his insistence on raising taxes at almost every turn throughout his final term." Although Huckabee did pass tax cuts in his first term, "Nine days after being reelected in 2002, he proposed a sales tax increase to cover a budget deficit caused partly by large spending increases that he proposed and approved, including an expansion in Medicare eligibility that Huckabee made a centerpiece of his 1997 agenda. He agreed to a 3 percent income tax 'surcharge' and a 25-cent cigarette tax increase." The pro-free market Club for Growth puts it in more political terms: "Huckabee is proud of his tax hikes, his spending increases, and his regulatory expansions as governor, and he has not indicated that he would govern any differently as president. Nominating Mike Huckabee for president or vice-president would constitute an abject rejection of the free-market, limited-government, economic conservatism that has been the unifying theme of the Republican Party for decades... Overall, Huckabee's substantial tax hikes far surpassed his modest tax cuts, with the average tax burden increasing by a whopping 47% over his tenure." The New Hampshire chapter of the National Education Association, one of the most reliable and largest union supporters of Democrats, has endorsed Huckabee, the first time in the organization's long history that it has endorsed a Republican. And why shouldn't it, with Huckabee calling himself "a passionate, ardent supporter of having music and art in every school for every student at every grade level"? More importantly, NEA-New Hampshire's endorsement apparently resulted from Huckabee's statements in opposition to school vouchers. Could Huckabee be any more removed from the view of education as expounded by conservatives from Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich? Someone so proud of his "achievements" shouldn't need to distort them. Yet he does, according to Huckabee's claim that he asked for a tax hike in May 2003 because of a court order to increase education spending is contradicted by his own speech before the Arkansas Legislature in which he called for raising taxes while saying "the business of education, we've decided to let that wait until the fall." And Huckabee's claim that a gasoline tax hike was passed with 80%[...]