by Max Brantley
Jason Tolbert today pokes a little fun at Florida resident Mike Huckabee for telling a North Carolina religio-political gathering that he was the original teabagger.
On whether the tea partiers will oppose him for raising taxes in Arkansas: “No. I was tea party before there was such a thing. If people go back and listen to what I said during the campaign, read the books that I’ve written, what they’re going to say is that, ‘Gosh, this guy was the tea party message before anyone identified it as a tea party’ … The fact is, I got criticized in 2007 and 2008 for the very things that have been the centerpiece of the tea party message. What I did in Arkansas was what the federal government should have done: I balanced the budget. I lowered more taxes than I ever was a part of raising. And I raised taxes only as a part of a court-ordered issue of dealing with an education crisis.”
In the past, Mike Huckabee has been a bit leery of the Tea Party movement so this is quite a claim. My memory of Huckabee’s time as governor was that he was a level headed common sense conservative who was criticized from the right for not being conservative enough, hardly a “Tea Party” type of message. And if balancing the budget makes one a Tea Party pioneer, then every governor of Arkansas since the 1930’s can claim this as well, including current Gov. Mike Beebe and former Gov. Bill Clinton.
Tolbert is too kind. The Tea Party crowd may be too stupid to avoid being gulled by Mike Huckabee. But 1) the Constitution of Arkansas requires a balanced budget and 2) if Huckabee told this story on the stand under oath, rather than in church, he'd be looking at a perjury rap. He raised far more taxes than Bill Clinton ever did as governor of Arkansas. A recitation from Ernest Dumas' work on the subject some years ago.
FROM ERNEST DUMAS
Mike Huckabee's tax increases:
- Imposed an income tax surcharge of 3 percent on tax liabilities of individuals and domestic and foreign corporations (Act 38, 1st special session of 2003). (It was temporary until revenues improved. The legislature repealed it in 2005.)
- Increased the sales tax by 1/8 of one percent by initiated act (but it was a personal campaign by Huckabee, who campaigned across the state for it and took a celebrated bass boat trip for 4 days down the Arkansas River holding press conferences in each river city to urge passage of the act)
- Increased the sales tax by one-half of 1 percent (Act 1492 of 1999)
- Increased the sales tax by 7/8ths of 1 percent and expand the sales tax to many services previously exempt from the tax (Act 107, 2nd special session of 2003)
- Collected a 2 percent tax on chewing tobacco, cigars, package tobacco, cigarette papers and snuff (Act 434 of 1997)
- Levied an additional excise tax of 7 percent on tobacco (Act 38 of 1st special session of 2003)
- Increased the tax on cigarette and tobacco permits (Act 1337 of 1997)
- Increased the tax on cigarette and tobacco — cigarettes by $1.25 per thousand cigarettes and 2 percent of the manufacturers’ selling price on tobacco products (Act 434 of 1997)
- Increased the tax on cigarettes by 25 cents a pack (Act 38, 1st special session of 2003)
- Levied a 3 percent excise tax on all retail sales of beer (Act 1841 of 2001 and extended by Act 272 of 2003 and Act 2188 of 2005)
- Revived the 4 percent mixed drink tax of 1989 and added a 4 percent tax on private clubs (Act 1274 of 2005)
- Increased the tax on gasoline by 3 cents a gallon (Act 1028 of 1999)
- Increased the tax on diesel by 4 cents a gallon (Act 1028 of 1999) Note: Contrary to what Huckabee has said repeatedly in debates, speeches and TV shows, the 1999 gasoline and diesel taxes were not submitted to the voters and approved by 80 per cent of them. It was never submitted to a vote. It was the governor’s bill and it became law without a vote of the people. What the voters did approve in 1999 was a bond issue for interstate highway reconstruction but it did not involve a tax increase. Existing taxes and federal receipts were pledged to retire the bonds.
- Increased the driver’s license by $6 a person, from $14 to $20 (Act 1500 of 2001)