On Monday, Frank Pastore posted an open letter on Townhall entitled, "Dear Huck: You've Won Our Hearts, Now Win Our Minds, Too." Just a few days later, Governor Huckabee has responded to each of Pastore's questions. This is well worth reading and passing along to your friends. Topics include the Fair Tax, education, foreign policy, immigration, and the enviromnment:
Frank Pastore: 1. You’re accused of advancing “liberal economic policies” because you raised taxes in Arkansas. If elected, what do you want to increase social spending on and why? Most conservatives don’t define “limited government” in terms of “no government.” We want government to help those who truly need it. We want to help the single mom down the street that’s struggling. Unlike Democrats, we don’t measure the success of social programs by how much we spend on them, but by whether the people we claim to be helping actually get helped.Read the whole thing...
We want “limited government” in opposition to “unlimited government.” We believe we’re already spending too much on too many programs, and we’d rather spend more wisely what we’re already spending than simply default to spending more. We don’t want “bigger government,” we want “smarter government.” We understand a “let’s cut spending” message can’t win a general election, but a “responsible spending” message can. How do you suggest we do this?
Governor Mike Huckabee: First, I am a fiscal conservative. I have signed Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform “no tax” pledge. When I was Governor of Arkansas, I cut taxes 94 times, including the largest broad-based tax cut in the history of my state. I doubled the standard deduction and the child care credit, eliminated the marriage penalty, indexed tax brackets to prevent bracket creep, reduced the capital gains tax for both businesses and individuals, and eliminated the capital gains tax on the sale of a home. I reduced welfare rolls by almost 50 percent.
When I left office, the tax rates remained exactly the same as when I began almost 11 years earlier: the tax rate was 1 percent for the poorest taxpayers and 7 percent for the richest. Having inherited a $200 million budget shortfall from my Democrat predecessor, I left office with an $844 million surplus, letting my successor follow my lead to get the sales tax on food eliminated.
I share your goal of wanting to help those who truly need it. I will undertake a top-to-bottom review of all programs to eliminate waste and duplication. Right now there are many different programs dealing with things like hunger and job training. I will consolidate and streamline to get the most out of every tax dollar. I will reduce the federal work force by not replacing many of the baby boomers who will be retiring.
I will fight against pork and fight for a line-item veto that passes constitutional muster. I will also look for ways to accomplish our goals through block grants to the states. Governors at the state level are the ones who know their people and their needs better than the federal government and, since they have to balance their budgets, know how to get the most out of a dollar. We also need to measure performance and demand better accountability. We have to stop throwing money at problems without following up to ensure that they are actually achieving solutions. I will insist that programs and the people running them justify their existence. I will never just assume that because a program was funded last year, it should be funded next year.
While we have great needs, the federal government also has great resources provided by the sweat of the brows of all our taxpayers. They are entitled to a solid return on their investment. I will never forget where the money comes from and will demand of Congress and all my executive departments that we be the best stewards that we can possibly be of those hard-earned funds.