Although former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has built a career on a folksy brand of Christian conservatism, it wasn’t all that surprising that he was quick to get behind the presidential candidacy of thrice-married New York billionaire Donald Trump.
While many Religious Right leaders have expressed concerns about Trump’s rise to the top of the Republican Party, Huckabee was quick to embrace his former presidential rival, particularly after Trump vanquished Ted Cruz, whom Huckabee had repeatedly attacked as a phony Christian.
Despite appearances, Huckabee and Trump have plenty in common.
The two also have a similar pitch to voters. While both claim that they are standing up for the working man against a corporate, ultra-wealthy elite, both of their main economic proposals include deep tax cuts for the super-rich.
Huckabee told the Guardian today that before Trump’s rise, the GOP was on the verge of becoming “a wholly owned subsidiary of the financial community and globalists/neocons,” when the party really needed “to refocus on the American worker, the American infrastructure and rebuilding America.”
“They have created favors for the donor class at the expense of the working class,” he said.
Huckabee, however, has for years promoted an extremely regressive “Fair Tax” proposal to replace the progressive income tax with a national sales tax.
Former Reagan administration adviser Bruce Bartlett has said that under Huckabee’s proposal, “there would be an enormous shift in the tax burden from the wealthy to those with lower and middle incomes.”
Richard Phillips, senior policy analyst at Citizens for Tax Justice, wrote last year:
A study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) found that under the 'Fair Tax,' the top 1 percent of taxpayers would receive an average annual tax cut of $225,000. Meanwhile, the plan would increase taxes by about $3,200 on average on the bottom 80 percent of taxpayers. In other words, Huckabee’s tax plan would significantly increase taxes on the overwhelming majority of Americans to pay for huge tax cuts for the very wealthiest Americans.
Since “very high-income households spend only a fraction of their income, while low- and middle-income people spend all or most of what they make,” wrote Leonard E. Burman of the Tax Policy Center, under Huckabee’s plan, “tax burdens on middle-income households would surely rise while high-income families would get a big tax cut.”
Despite such a radical proposal, Huckabee still markets himself as the defender of the working class against the wealthy elite, even as he promises to raise taxes on the working class and deliver a massive tax cut the rich.
Trump is no different.
Under Trump’s massive $12 trillion tax plan, “the top 1 percent of Americans will receive an average tax break of $227,000 per year while the bottom 20 percent will receive an average tax cut of only $250,” according to Citizens for Tax Justice, which found that “the majority of Trump’s tax cut would go to the top five percent of taxpayers.”
But the biggest winners of Trump’s tax cut won’t be the top five percent. They won’t even be the top one percent.
“[T]he benefits would be overwhelmingly skewed to the highest-income taxpayers, with those in the top 0.1 percent (who make $3.7 million or more) getting an average tax cut of more than $1.3 million,” says Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center.
The supposedly populist candidate also promises to pay off the entire $19 trillion national debt in just eight years — “very easy” — but one estimate found that his huge tax cut for the rich alone will grow the debt by almost 80 percent.
Just fulfilling his pledge to balance the budget would be mathematically impossible under the proposal he has laid out to do so.
Trump also boasts that he is boycotting Apple, Ford and Nabisco for building factories outside of the U.S., often bragging that he will never eat an Oreo ever again. And yet Trump has personally invested in all of those companies.
Huckabee and Trump, nonetheless, continue to claim the “populist” mantle.
It may be their greatest swindle yet.