Jason Tolbert today pokes a little fun at Florida resident Mike Huckabee for telling a North Carolina religio-political gathering that he was the original teabagger.
On whether the tea partiers will oppose him for raising taxes in Arkansas: “No. I was tea party before there was such a thing. If people go back and listen to what I said during the campaign, read the books that I’ve written, what they’re going to say is that, ‘Gosh, this guy was the tea party message before anyone identified it as a tea party’ … The fact is, I got criticized in 2007 and 2008 for the very things that have been the centerpiece of the tea party message. What I did in Arkansas was what the federal government should have done: I balanced the budget. I lowered more taxes than I ever was a part of raising. And I raised taxes only as a part of a court-ordered issue of dealing with an education crisis.”
In the past, Mike Huckabee has been a bit leery of the Tea Party movement so this is quite a claim. My memory of Huckabee’s time as governor was that he was a level headed common sense conservative who was criticized from the right for not being conservative enough, hardly a “Tea Party” type of message. And if balancing the budget makes one a Tea Party pioneer, then every governor of Arkansas since the 1930’s can claim this as well, including current Gov. Mike Beebe and former Gov. Bill Clinton.
Tolbert is too kind. The Tea Party crowd may be too stupid to avoid being gulled by Mike Huckabee. But 1) the Constitution of Arkansas requires a balanced budget and 2) if Huckabee told this story on the stand under oath, rather than in church, he’d be looking at a perjury rap. He raised far more taxes than Bill Clinton ever did as governor of Arkansas. A recitation from Ernest Dumas’ work on the subject some years ago.