Mike Huckabee Visits Florida…Again
13,000-mile 56-stop booktour in 2.5 weeks draws resilient crowds
by Bill Lopez
Photos by Bill Lopez
HYDE PARK VILLAGE, TAMPA- The long Thanksgiving Holiday was just another workweek for Mike Huckabee, second runner-up for president of the United Sates in 2008. Black Friday saw the former Arkansas Governor rise up very early in Sarasota for a book-signing event followed by a very long and tiring day of bus travel through Florida and Georgia shaking hands and signing autographs just as if he was still campaigning.
Late that evening he crashed in Atlanta and began preparation for his weekend television show that airs on the Fox Cable News Network every Saturday night. In all, he will travel over 13,000 miles and make 56 stops at bookseller locations similar to the one he did in Tampa Bay.
His bid for president in the 2009-2013 term did not materialize and now even he does not know if he will ever seek that job again. The Clearwater Gazette covered the event and presents a three-part review of what Gov. Huckabee said and what his new book is all about.
With his campaigning now well out of the way, Huckabee is not overtly political. Rather, he talks about his book, Do the Right Thing, published by Sentinel Press, in a more candid way. The 232-page premier released for sale November 18 just two weeks after Barack Obama defeated Republican candidate John McCain in the general election.
It appears that much of the book’s content was drafted for publication well before all the November 4 ballots were counted. Do the Right Thing is essential reading for anyone who wants to know about the political scene in these strange and turbulent times. More importantly, it simplifies certain ideologies and suggests pathways toward the high ground on many fronts — ways that have become dimly lit over the past five decades. Since Dwight Eisenhower left the oval office in 1961, many things seem to have developed that increasingly take us in different directions on so many issues. Huckabee looks at the landscape and tells it like it is. As if he were speaking from a pulpit, he tells us to simply go and “do the right thing.” Most profound of his commentaries is perhaps his complete and unabashed support for the Fair Tax.
This was something he came to embrace after reading The Fair Tax Book by Georgia congressional representative John Linder and radio personality Neal Boortz. Gov. Huckabee admits to reading the book twice just to be sure of his understanding and now promotes it wherever he goes.
In a nutshell, this concept calls for scraping the IRS as we know it and trading our progressive income tax system for a flat rate consumption tax.
He observes that a tax on items and services that people buy would be more fair than the progressive income tax we have. Moreover, it would prevent many of the catastrophic ills in our economy and in our federal government.
When the Fair Tax starts up in the USA, the IRS would all but disappear and the tax code would be so simple that any 8th grade student would understand it. “April 15 would be just another beautiful spring day and not the day we dread scurrying about trying to go through shoe boxes full of little pieces of paper and receipts to find deductions,” he writes.
This alone makes the idea very appealing. But even more appealing is the idea that Americans can escape being penalized for their hard work or any success they have in personal income building. Huckabee indicates real wages in America would increase by 8 percent according to estimates of the Fair Tax authors Linder and Boortz.
Instead of punishing people for working hard and making as much money as they can, the Fair Tax would levy fees on consumption. Often referred to as a “value added tax,” the Fair Tax works just like the standard economics of product costing that businesses use everyday. According to international travel authority Don Gleason, several counties use the system and it seems to be effective for them. In Great Britain 17% of the purchase price for goods and service goes to the government as the base for that country’s federal budget. When travelers pass through the British border and make purchases, the British government rebates 17% of any expenditure they make for goods and services inside the country.
On this side of the Atlantic, our Government Accounting Office (GOA) would have to determine whether that rate or a different rate would sustain the US government without an income tax. Huckabee believes the current rate would fund all that government needs and he suggests that whatever rate is used, it would adjust to the genuine needs of our federal government.
Along with the economics of all this comes the other fundamental idea that Huckabee supports … less government and budgets that balance.
Since he spent 10 years as governor of Arkansas, he has a fresh recollection of how important that concept is … even when many politicians and appointees in Washington, DC seem to routinely dismiss the idea including President George W. Bush. Huckabee said the cost of government service is so high that we cannot afford it any more.
Printing money and taking loans from China to finance big government are not his idea of proper stewardship. He wants to see America preserve its good way of life and provide a secure future for the next generations. While our currency may be stable today, the almighty dollar could go into free fall against the yen and other currencies that could cause rampant inflation rendering us a debtor nation.
Another aspect of this would seem to be a healthy reduction in careless spending that reduces the amount of money Americans save. Having a buy-buy-buy mentality may keep economic momentum up for certain periods but, if purchases cannot be paid for, the “promise to pay” that underlies credit may go begging for belief.
“Imagine every American worker actually starting out with their whole paycheck instead of the version that people end up with after all the government deductions. Most American workers have never even seen their entire paycheck.” In his book, Huckabee says the Fair Tax is Flat, Fair, Finite and Family Friendly. Everyone pays the same tax rate married or single. “This is the kind of commonsense solution that isn’t at all common to Congress, but just the kind of idea that will happen if it comes from the ground up.”
During our forty-minute conversation, the Governor told me the switch from income tax to consumption tax could pass the congress if enough people demand action on a bill that would make this realty. He also pledged to campaign for it in every way he can. This includes use of the Political Action Committee he started that supports candidates for office who will press the issue.
Healthcare and all the big issues mentioned in Do the Right Thing merit a close look. The fate of the Republican Party over the next few years will certainly be affected by what Huckabee does. In the coming weeks I will examine Huckabee’s common sense approach to these issues and reveal what he told me about the relationship between church and state.
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