Mike Huckabee’s awkward relations with the GOP donor class keep popping up — this week, the story is Huckabee’s decision not to sign the anti-tax pledge of Grover Norquist, the right-wing founder of the influential advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform.
This is news because Norquist’s pronouncements are treated as papal decrees among GOP lawmakers (you might recall that state legislators here in Arkansas needed permission from Norquist to vote on increasing the timberland tax from 15 cents to 20 cents per acre — proving that Norquist is really in the weeds on some piddly local bills and that grownup legislators cannot decide on policy themselves but need rulings on Norquist about what does and does not violate the Tax Pledge religion).
Huckabee, who has feuded with other right-wing advocacy groups, such as the Heritage Foundation and the Club for Growth, decided not to sign the ATF pledge to never, ever, ever raise taxes, but instead to sign his own do-it-yourself pledge. Not to worry, though, Pope Norquist is not tripping.
Real Clear Politics reports:
Norquist and a spokesman for Huckabee both confirmed that the former Arkansas governor and the anti-tax advocate spoke Thursday morning and reached an understanding Huckabee’s do-it-yourself version of the pledge.
“We are cool,” Norquist said. Phew! (Norquist says that if Republicans raise taxes, it’s like putting a severed rat head in a Coke bottle.)
Of course, the beef that the Club for Growth has is that Huckabee has also promised to leave Social Security and Medicare untouched. Democrats are open to the rich paying more in taxes to preserve the social safety net; the Club prioritizes tax cuts for the rich, funded by cuts to the social safety net. Huckabee says we can have it all. That was a version of the George W. Bush approach, and it may be the best political argument in a party that hates taxes but is made up of a base of older voters who love their entitlement programs.
Jeb Bush is also not signing the pledge. Signing pledges is more the kind of thing I expect from someone dabbling in live-action role-playing than an adult politician ostensibly thinking for himself, so kudos to those sorta-kinda going their own way.