Wednesday, July 04, 2007

NewsMax: Huckabee Gets 'F' from Conservatives


Huckabee's Record: Anything But Conservative

Former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee wants to be seen as — in his own words — an "authentic" conservative, but his governing record shows he does not live up to the image.

Despite Huckabee's campaign mantra, "I'm proud of my record as a fiscal conservative," by the end of his second term as Arkansas governor he had raised sales taxes 37 percent, fuel taxes 16 percent, and cigarettes taxes 103 percent.

These actions and others while in the governor's mansion in Little Rock helped ramp up total state tax revenues from $3.9 billion to $6.8 billion.

For doing so, Huckabee earned the failing grade of "F" on the Cato Institute's 2006 governors' fiscal report card. The Washington-based think tank awarded the candidate a "D" for his overall term.

He also received a failing grade from the tax watchdog group Club for Growth.

"Gov. Huckabee says he is a fiscal conservative," Club for Growth President Pat Toomey said at the time of Huckabee's entry into the presidential sweepstakes, "but his 10-year economic-policy record as the governor of Arkansas is mixed, at best. His history includes numerous tax hikes, ballooning government spending, and increased regulation.

"To be sure, Gov. Huckabee's record displays an occasional deference to a pro-growth philosophy, but that is only a small slice of a much bigger picture," Tommey asserts.

Since entering the race, Huckabee appears to have become born-again on tax matters.

After initial hesitation, Huckabee signed the famous Taxpayer Protection Pledge against tax increases perennially sponsored by the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR).

"The tax increases Huckabee supported as governor in Arkansas were a mistake and cannot be defended," Grover Norquist, president of ATR, told NewsMax.

"However, as a presidential candidate, he has clearly learned that tax increases are always a mistake and he has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge against tax increases. He has spoken in favor of a number of significant tax reductions that he would support. Elections are about the future."

Such confidence represents a sea change for Norquist, who once recalled Huckabee saying that he would only raise taxes if his arm were twisted. Norquist then quipped: "He has a history of allowing his arm to be twisted and twisting others' arms."

In the pre-pledge-signing days, Norquist — in an obvious reference to Huckabee's once scale-breaking weight — joked, "We like chubby governors and skinny budgets. Not the other way around."

Club for Growth's Toomey is not so impressed by Huckabee's affirmation to the ATR that he won't increase taxes as president.

"I'm glad to see he signed the pledge, but as a given matter, what politicians have done is a better indicator than what they say they're going to do," Toomey said. "His record clearly does not indicate a strong commitment to limited government."

In its "white paper" review of the candidate, the Club lamented that while governor, Huckabee "consistently supported and initiated measures that increase government's interference in markets, thereby impeding economic growth.

"He told the Washington Times he supports ‘empowering people to make their own decisions,' but many of his key proposals have done just the opposite."

Here are some of those proposals:
  • Raised the minimum wage in April 2006 from $5.15 to $6.25 an hour; encouraged Congress to take the same initiative on a national level

  • Threatened to investigate price-gouging after 9/11 if gasoline prices went up too high

  • Ordered regulatory agencies in Arkansas to investigate price-gouging in the nursing home industry

  • Signed a bill into law that would prevent companies from raising their prices a mere 10 percent ahead of a natural disaster (Services like roof repair and tree removal were targeted)
Recently, the National Review tore into Huckabee, charging that he was certainly not the poster child for smaller government.

"During his tenure, the number of state government workers in Arkansas increased over 20 percent. Under Gov. Huckabee's watch, state spending increased a whopping 65.3 percent from 1996 to 2004, three times the rate of inflation, and the state's general obligation debt shot up by almost $1 billion," said the National Review.

Pardoning a Murderer

Meanwhile, the Arkansas Leader newspaper has hounded Huckabee every inch of the campaign trail.

One characteristic editorial chided the candidate for masquerading as a fiscal conservative at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, where Huckabee received a warm reception:

"The delegates may not have known that he helped arrange the largest expansions of government-paid medical care in Arkansas history (largely paid by U.S. taxpayers), compiled a larger general-obligation debt than all previous governors combined, increased the number of government employees by 20 percent in only nine-and-a-half years, and conducted a liberal policy of criminal pardons and commutations."

That latter mention of a liberal policy of criminal pardons has long been an albatross around the neck of the former Baptist minister and president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Case-in-point: Wayne Dumond, a convicted rapist who was released during Huckabee's tenure as governor and who subsequently sexually assaulted and murdered a woman in Missouri following his release.

In October 1996, Huckabee met privately with the parole board to talk about the Dumond case. Some members of the board have since stated that they were pressured to re-examine and vote in favor of Dumond's parole. Huckabee has denied influencing the parole board in any way, but acknowledges some responsibility for signing Dumond's parole.

Dumond's case had gained some celebrity status in the mid 1990s from critics of President Bill Clinton who felt the former Arkansas governor had been too harsh with Dumond because Dumond's initial victim was a distant Clinton relative.

Whatever nettlesome baggage he carries, Huckabee is banking that the electorate will concentrate instead on his message.

Huckabee declined to be interviewed for this story.

Today, not surprisingly a good part of the Huckabee message is about taxes.

"I want to completely eliminate all federal income and payroll taxes. And do I mean all — personal federal, corporate federal, gift, estate, capital gains, alternative minimum, Social Security, Medicare, self-employment," Huckabee says. "Instead we will have the FairTax, a simple tax based on wealth."

And while on the subject of taxes, Huckabee has shrugged off the criticisms of those who charge him with having been a tax-and-spend executive while in office.

On stumps, he says that during his 10 1/2 years as governor, he cut taxes more than 90 times — saving taxpayers almost $380 million. He also points to how he doubled the child care tax credit and eliminated the marriage penalty from the tax code, while cutting welfare rolls by nearly 50 percent and balancing the state budget.
We must continue to weed these RINOS from the ranks of the GOP.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'll be happy to post your comment if it meets my criteria. Note: my criteria may change. At any time.