Mike Huckabee, Less Than Meets The Eyeby Doug Mataconis
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is, in many respects, the flavor-of-the-month in the Republican Presidential field right now. He came in a surprising second in the Ames Straw Poll back in August, and he’s been rising in the polls to the point where Rasmussen now has him ahead of Mitt Romney in their national poll. He calls himself a fiscal conservative and says he favors the Fair Tax, but, as the Club For Growth’s Pat Toomey says today, there’s much less there than meets the eye:
During Huckabee’s tenure as governor, the average Arkansan’s tax burden increased 47 percent, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A dyed-in-blue tax hiker, Huckabee supported raising sales taxes, gas taxes, grocery taxes, even nursing home bed taxes. He virulently opposed a congressional moratorium on taxing Internet access, and sat on the sidelines while his Democratic legislature pushed the largest tax hike in Arkansas history into law. What’s more, on his watch, and frequently at his behest, state spending increased by 50 percent, more than double the rate of inflation, and the number of state government workers rose by 20 percent. Yes, as a presidential candidate, Huckabee has signed on as a supporter of the Fair Tax and pledged against raising taxes, but when a candidate’s long and clear record flies in the face of his election-year symbolism, you can chalk it up to politics every time.
As Toomey points out, this is precisely not what the GOP needs if it wants to regain the voters trust on fiscal issues that it lost prior to the 2006 elections:
In order to earn back the public’s trust on economic issues, not to mention offer a compelling contrast with a Hillary Clinton-led Democratic ticket, Republicans must present a consistent message. A big-government liberal like Mike Huckabee, who takes pleasure in attacking the Republican party as the “party of Wall Street,” will only reinforce the image of Republicans as “the big spenders that they used to oppose.” A Huckabee nomination, even as vice president, will make it impossible for the Republican party to reclaim its brand of fiscal conservatism and limited government, without which it cannot be a majority party again.
Huckabee makes no secret of his desire to turn the GOP leftward, calling himself a “different kind of Republican,” adopting protectionist positions, and peppering his campaign speeches with the kind of class warfare rhetoric one expects to hear from John Edwards. No doubt, this is the reason that the liberal media is so smitten with him.
Instead of talking about curtailing government spending, Huckabee refuses to endorse President Bush’s veto of a vastly expanded S-CHIP. He is an unabashed fan of No Child Left Behind and an opponent of private school choice. Huckabee is also quickly becoming the labor unions’ favorite Republican, recently gaining a union endorsement along with Hillary Clinton.
The media’s fascination with Huckabee will most likely continue to grow; especially since he’s currently running a strong third in Iowa, but the truth of the matter is that he’s exactly the opposite of what the GOP, and America, need.