Trouble For 'Tax Hike Mike'?
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a GOP White House hopeful, is trying to appeal to those in his party who are obsessed with reducing taxes by touting his embrace of the Fair Tax, which would replace federal income and payroll taxes with a type of national sales tax.
But as Huckabee rises in some polls, critics increasingly are focused on the other part of his tax record: his embrace of various tax hikes as governor of Arkansas. The Club for Growth, an anti-tax conservative group, has set up a site called "Tax Hike Mike" that outlines his support of measures such as raising gas taxes, which Huckabee defended as important to improving the state's roads. This week, they've added a video of Huckabee publicly advocating one of the tax increases.
The issue could be a critical one as Huckabee aims to keep rising in polls. The former governor has not only called for the Fair Tax, but also signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge not to raise taxes while in office, which Mitt Romney has signed but several of the other top GOP candidates have refused to embrace. Huckabee is alone among the leading GOP candidates to make the Fair Tax a big part of his campaign, while other candidates have embraced renewing tax cuts President Bush has passed while in office.
But backing tax increases has long been controversial for Republicans, and it illustrates a key difference between Huckabee and Romney. Both served as governor of states with heavily-Democratic legislatures, but Romney carefully avoided publicly backing tax raises and vetoed a tax increase in a universal health care plan he signed last year in Massachusetts.
--Perry Bacon Jr.
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