In the comments to the third part of my Summit series - the Huckabee episode - a minor discussion flared up over the odd lack of any available evidence that Martha the schoolteacher ever existed. A few of us Kossacks have done some digging and found nothing - and the Arkansas journalists we've contacted have drawn similar blanks. She's impervious to Google, Lexis Nexis, and local journalistic memory.
In his recent response to the Club for Growth’s presidential white paper on his gubernatorial record, Governor Huckabee touts his $80 million tax cut in 1997, but fails to explain the multiple tax hikes he signed or allowed to become law during the rest of his tenure, including a $377 million sales tax hike in 2004 (Los Angeles Times 02/07/04). ... “This really isn’t very complicated,” said the Club’s President, Pat Toomey. “Taxes were higher when he left office than when he entered. On balance, that makes him a tax hiker.”The Club for Growth, of course, is the NKVD of the anti-tax crowd, charged with purging enemies of the wingnut people from within Republican ranks. And one can't help but feel a bit of sympathy for Huckabee, who was caught in the same quandary most Republican governors find themselves in: forced to deal with the messy consequences of their own party's irresponsible federalist policies, which dump spending problems on the states where they can be ignored by Congress but not by the local statehouse. Hell, Pat Toomey was at the same Summit, soaking up the ideological deliciousness of being a purist unburdened with actual power.
The governor also wildly exaggerates his record, claiming he cut taxes “nearly 100 times,” but the Arkansas Times demonstrates the absurdity of this claim: “By claiming to have cut taxes 94 times, Huckabee fixed a standard for what is a tax cut: every little exemption, credit, deduction or tax break of any kind. By that standard every governor [over] the past 60 years cut taxes numerous times (01/30/07).
The Gingrich Revolution trumpeted its renewed federalism, enhancing state authority over everything from welfare to Medicaid. States can’t deficit spend, so handing them once-federal responsibilities under the rubric of a restored federalism promised to shrink the expansiveness, generosity, and responsiveness of government services. Federalist lipstick? Meet small-government pig.So maybe Huckabee's record is just collateral damage in the Beltway Republicans' war on reality. I can't really fault him for that.
But it’s not easy being a service-slashing ideologue on the state level. “Republican governors tend to be more liberal than Republican senators and congressmen,” Dreier explains. “Governors can see the consequences of federal cutbacks and unfunded federal mandates. They see the consequences of letting cities deteriorate. They have to pay for the Medicaid patients. They have to pay for the consequences of housing cuts.”
So Republican governors operate in tension with Republican congresses. They need federal appropriations to invest in infrastructure, keep their fiscal status sound, and provide popular services their party finds ideologically objectionable. As Bush’s budget director, Mitch Daniels was a supply-sider so committed that Grover Norquist named him 2002’s “Hero of the American taxpayer.” But after becoming governor of Indiana, he promptly broke Norquist’s heart by raising taxes. Daniels, a crestfallen Norquist cried, “was closing Indiana for business!” Which is to say, he was governing.