Would the Real Mike Huckabee Please Stand Up?


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Despite having a relatively moderate record on tax policy as the governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee has wholeheartedly embraced a radically regressive tax plan as a central plank of his presidential candidate platform.

For years, Huckabee has been one of the main proponents of the “Fair Tax,” a plan that would replace all federal taxes with a national sales tax. Citizens for Tax Justice and the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation have each found that to raise the same amount of revenue as current law, the sales tax rate would have to be about 50 percent.

A study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) found that under the “Fair Tax,” the top 1 percent of taxpayers would receive an average annual tax cut of $225,000. Meanwhile, the plan would increase taxes by about $3,200 on average on the bottom 80 percent of taxpayers. In other words, Huckabee’s tax plan would significantly increase taxes on the overwhelming majority of Americans to pay for huge tax cuts for the very wealthiest Americans.

While Senator Ted Cruz also has endorsed a national sales tax, Huckabee has been much more outspoken in his support. Just last year he appeared in and promoted the right-wing documentary, “Unfair: Exposing the IRS,” which lauded the “Fair Tax” as the best way to reform our tax system and as a way to abolish the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). To make its case for eliminating the IRS, the film called IRS agents “jack-booted thugs” and implied that, if left unchecked, the IRS will create concentration camps in America. 

The ironic thing about Huckabee’s call to abolish the IRS is that the “Fair Tax” would hardly collect itself. Rather than having a federal revenue agency, the plan would just shift the responsibility to already strapped state governments.

Huckabee’s advocacy for this radically unfair tax plan does not comport with his relatively moderate tax record as the governor of Arkansas. Largely in response to an Arkansas court ruling declaring education funding in the state constitutionally inadequate, Huckabee sensibly worked to enact a series of tax increases to increase funding for education in his state. An analysis by Arkansas’s Department of Finance and Administration actually found that over his time as governor Huckabee increased revenue raised via taxes by $505 million.

Even though Huckabee is outspoken in his support for the radical conservative agenda on taxes through his support of the “Fair Tax,” he has still earned the continuing ire of militant anti-tax conservative groups for his deviations from their anti-tax philosophy as governor of Arkansas. In fact, the Club for Growth is already running campaign ads against Huckabee’s presidential candidacy based on his Arkansas tax record. This move by the Club for Growth reveals the extremism of this and other anti-tax groups, considering how fully Huckabee has now embraced their tax-cuts-for-the-rich agenda. 

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