Huckabee’s “FairTax” Plan: He’s an Idiot. Just Ask Fox “News”

I usually don’t expend much effort on individual GOP misfits, but Mike Huckabee is such a particularly vile scumbag, that I feel that I owe it to all the well-meaning, albeit misinformed, little old white ladies and old white men who believe anything he says (because he’s such a good Christian and all), to call him out on the myriad ridiculous faux-populist ideas that flow from his forked-tongue…the latest being his support for the “FairTax”.huck finn

Now one thing is undeniable; Huckabee’s support for the FairTax is fair to no one, especially the poor or middle-class. And when anybody on Fox News chooses to be a half-decent human being and slap Huckabee down like a redneck slaps his wife after a bad day, I figure it’s my responsibility to give some free webspace to it.

Well, A few short months after he left his job as a dead zone time-filler as a Fox News television host to pursue the Republican nomination for president in 2016, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was back on Fox News Sunday, and to put it mildly, he got bitch-slapped.

In case you don’t know, the so-called “FairTax” plan would eliminate the income tax and replace it with a consumption tax of about 30 percent. Tax experts have repeatedly exposed the FairTax plan as highly regressive tax-– meaning that lower-income and middle-income individuals would pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than the wealthy.

If there were ever a job-killing, economy-crushing idea, this one has to be the worst. Who in the middle-class, much less the poor, can afford to add 30 percent to every item they buy, especially if it’s a necessity?

Not only that, where do you draw the line? On automobiles? On medical care?! What about office supplies, computers, telephones, clothes, football tickets? If there was EVER an inflation-producing, job-killing, Great Depression-inducing government absurdity, this plan is it…and Mike Huckabee, as a presidential candidate is “all in” for it.

But back to Fox News’ Huckabee take-down. It was a point Chris Wallace asked Huckabee to explain, quoting an analysis by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, among others, which found that “the average rate of the lowest income group would exceed 33 percent, while the average for the top group would fall to less than 16 percent.”

“They have it exactly wrong,” Huckabee said. “In fact, it’s the bottom third of the economy who benefit the most from the FairTax, and the people at the top third who benefit the least Everybody benefits some. That tax study is one that has been discredited by the people who spent over $20 million, [on a]very thoughtful economic study developing the FairTax. It’s not just some political idea….“

Wallace interrupted, “Doesn’t it just stand to reason that if I make $5,000, I’m going to spend a higher percentage of my income just for necessities, and if I make $1 million, I’m going to spend only a tiny percentage of my income?”

Huckabee launched into an explanation of what FairTax advocates call a “prebate.” Under the proposal, the government would send a check every month to every taxpayer equal to what someone living at the poverty level would pay in taxes for “necessities.” He claimed that the prebates mean low-income earners do better under the system than they do currently. Of course he didn’t address the crippling effect on middle-income families already scraping by.

“That’s not even logistically feasible and it would require the entire IRS budget to try to implement, wouldn’t it?” a clearly exasperated Chris Wallace queried.

“The FairTax empowers the consumer,” Huckabee said. “That’s power to the people.”

My, my, can that preacher spin a fairy tale or what? Talk about misguided, manipulative, disingenuous, populist bullshit…it’s downright insulting to one’s intelligence.

First of all, the folks at the Tax Policy Center don’t take kindly to having their analyses described as “discredited” on national television. They immediately emailed several responses…some not fit for young ears.

Second of all, the amount of money spent on a study has no bearing whatsoever on the likelihood that the result is not a complete screw-up. Just look at the $167 billion overrun on the next generation Fighter Jet, the F-35. If all goes to plan, the Pentagon is on track to spend a huge figure of $396 billion on the jets, including R&D. It doesn’t help that the cost to build each F-35 has risen to an average of $160 million from $69 million in 2001. The yearly cost to maintain these jets would be over $1 Trillion…provided Lockheed can figure out why they are bursting into flame on takeoffs, after taking fifteen years of overruns and delays in production.

Asked to respond to Huckabee, William Gale, co-director of the Center, delivered a withering  takedown of Huckabee’s claims and the FairTax proposal in general.

“He has the distributional benefits backwards,” wrote Gale, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former senior economist for President  H.W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers. “The notion that a tax on consumption will help the poor and hurt the rich is contrary to just about everything that is known about rich/poor spending and income habits, all over the world, not just our model.”

In a swipe at the FairTax program, he added: “The ‘people who spent over $20 million on this did not understand for a decade how the tax actually worked, and it took two papers by me as well as myriad other works – for example, the Bush tax reform panel – to convince these people that they had vastly misstated the tax base because they made 20-25 percent of government, including defense, just disappear without any explanation.”

“This issue doesn’t involve complicated economic analysis, like the effect of trade deficits, core government spending, etc. It’s simple math, and the FairTax advocates have repeatedly and willfully flubbed the math, ostensibly hoping no one would bother to look at the details of the plan.”

“The distributional effects are pretty straightforward,” he wrote. “High-income people spend only a fraction of their income, so they effectively benefit from a giant tax exemption compared with an income tax.”

In the Fox interview, Wallace eventually let Huckabee wriggle away from the tax issue, but moved on to some other ridiculous claims the former governor has recently made – including a suggestion that presidents and lawmakers don’t necessarily need to abide by the rulings of the Supreme Court–obvioulsy showing a blatant disregard for a GOP favorite buzzword; The Constitution!

Huckabee claimed that the United States has fallen victim to what he called “judicial supremacy,” in which the Supreme Court has set itself above the other branches of the government.

“The Supreme Court isn’t the Supreme branch, and for God’s sake, it isn’t the Supreme Being,” he said. Wallace, who had not suggested that the Supreme Court was in any way God-like, had no answer for that one, and Huckabee was off, dropping straw man arguments as he went.

“It’s a matter of balance of power,” he said. “If the Supreme Court could just make a ruling and everybody has to bow down and fall on their faces and worship that law – it isn’t a law because it hasn’t been yet passed.”

Umm…Chris Wallace’s face becoming a contorted, Pacasso-esque reflection of incredulity…

But wait, nobody said….

“We are sworn to uphold the Constitution and the law and it has to be agreed on by three branches of government. One can’t overrule the other two,” He said “That’s all I’m saying. We learned that in 9th grade civics, but I’m convinced a lot of Ivy League law schools must have forgotten that simple, basic civics lesson along the way.”

Again. Huckabee shows his inability to understand the most basic of American principles of law, much less economics. That’s just not true. A bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the president can be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, but they cannot make new law. That’s pretty much the definition balance of power as described in Articles I, II, and III of the Constitution.

Sometimes it’s a little difficult to tell if Huckabee is actually mounting a presidential campaign or just an extended book tour for his latest book, God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy. On Sunday, it looked a lot like the latter.

Harvey A. Gold