That was manifestly a lie. He had been corrected on that several times in Arkansas since he began to utter it. Governors Ben Laney, Dale Bumpers and Bill Clinton had engineered serious tax cuts, although like Huckabee they had raised taxes even more. Under Huckabee’s definition of tax cuts — any change in any tax code that reduces someone’s taxes — every governor in modern times has cut taxes repeatedly.
His own big tax cut, the 1997 changes in the income tax to help working families, was not his at all. It was prescribed by Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, who was removed from office before the legislature assembled to enact it. The legislature rejected Huckabee’s tax cut — a small check every fall to taxpayers — and Huckabee agreed to sign Tucker’s bill. In time, he metamorphosed into its father.
As for the biggest tax increase, the highway taxes in 1999, Huckabee said Arkansas voters were responsible for the higher taxes. But he misstated that as well. Voters approved a highway bond issue. That put into effect gasoline taxes that the legislature and Huckabee had enacted, but the other highway taxes were not linked to the bond issue. There was no straight talk from our man on his maiden outing, and straight talk is his only chance to set himself apart from the vast field. He often claims heavenly guidance. Now is the time to listen to it.