Joe Carter: The Huckabee Plan

The following was posted by former Huckabee campaign staffer, Joe Carter at the blog Evangelical Outpost:

For the past few months I’ve been defending Governor Mike Huckabee against an onslaught of attacks on his character, positions, and record. When I worked for the campaign I spent a significant portion of my time clearing up misconceptions for journalists and parrying dishonest accusations made by other campaigns. And here on this blog I’ve written numerous posts responding to the questions posed by bloggers and rebutting claims made by sundry interest groups.

Yet all this time I’ve failed to make a positive case for why I feel Governor Huckabee to be the most visionary and conservative candidate in the race. I naively assumed that everyone was seeing what I was seeing. Indeed, I’m embarrassed to admit that I failed to recognize that not everyone would have the same familiarity with his policy positions as his former Director of Research.

To rectify this situation I’ve compiled a list of his most significant policy positions on a range of issues–from tax reform to national security. While all of this information can be found online, I thought it would be useful to cut away the excess verbiage in order to provide as succinct a set of statements as possible. I’ve also included a prefatory section that explains Governor Huckabee’s philosophy of governance.

Although this compilation is not exhaustive, I do believe that it provides a useful outline for anyone who wants to familiarize themselves on Huckabee’s true positions on the issues.

Philosophy of Governance

Governor Mike Huckabee: “To me conservative governance means following the “original intent” of the Founding Fathers, it means recognizing that Jefferson won the debate with Hamilton, and that we want very strong, energetic, innovative states, with government both as limited as possible and as close to the people as possible. The states should not usurp functions that can be handled locally, and the federal government should not usurp functions that can be handled by the states. An important part of being a conservative President for me would be strengthening federalism. Conservative governance also means an emphasis on personal responsibility and letting the free market function unencumbered, so that Americans have tremendous opportunity, but not a guaranteed outcome. It means smaller, more efficient government; lower government spending; lower taxes. It means keeping the government out of our lives and letting families keep as much of the money they earn and make as many of their own decisions as possible. It means allowing younger workers to have personal Social Security accounts. It means getting entitlements under control.

I believe that our rights come from God, not from our government; that the people should retain as much power and be left alone as much as possible; that the federal government should not do what can be done at the local or state level; that our government belongs to the people, not the lobbyists and special interests; that government at all levels exists to serve the people and not the other way around; that we must respect the separation of powers and no branch should usurp the authority of another; that my greatest responsibility is to protect the American people from all threats; that the free market, low taxes, and minimal regulation are the keys to economic growth and prosperity; that Americans are owed equal opportunity, but not an equal outcome; that we are a culture of life and recognize that each individual has intrinsic value and worth; that we are only as strong as our families; that we owe a huge debt to those who have given their lives for this country to protect the freedoms and way of life for which they sacrificed.

I would weigh all of my decisions in the context of those principles to assure that I am doing the right thing and not the popular or expedient thing. I will always err on the side of protecting life, strengthening our families, and protecting our citizens and our country from possible threats to their safety.”

(Response provided to the American Conservative Union)

Issues and Positions

Tax Reform

  • Make all tuition for higher education tax-deductible
  • Make health insurance tax deductible for individuals and families as it now is for businesses. (Low income families would get tax credits instead of deductions.)
  • Preserve and expand President Bush’s tax cuts
  • Eliminate the marriage penalty
  • Cut taxes on savings
  • Eliminate the Death Tax
  • Reduce counterproductively high personal and corporate marginal tax rates.
  • Encourage “baby boomers” who plan to work into their late 60’s or even beyond by giving them tax breaks, like additional exemptions or a “working senior” deduction.
  • Long-term goal: implementation of the FairTax so that American workers keep their entire paycheck, American businesses can compete on a level-playing field with their foreign competitors, and so that we can brings jobs and investment that are currently parked off-shore back to the United States.


  • Subprime mortgage crisis: begin a second round of negotiations with subprime lenders with an eye toward expansion of the “Hope Now” program.
  • Cut burdensome red tape that drives up the cost of products and keeps employers from hiring more workers or raising wages.
  • Reduce frivolous lawsuits which drive up costs of products and medical care.
  • Institute free trade that is fair to America. We will expect our trading partners to live up to their obligations—everyone must play by fair rules.
  • Open new markets for American products.
  • Work with the Federal Reserve adapts a pro-growth, low-inflation policy.
  • Veto earmarks and unnecessary discretionary spending

Energy Independence

  • Implement a national energy security policy which will end our dependence on Middle Eastern oil within ten years by conserving, exploring, and inventing our way to independence in energy.
  • pursue all avenues of alternative energy: nuclear, wind, solar, hydrogen, clean coal, biodiesel, and biomass.
  • Remove red tape that slows innovation, allow the free market to sort out what makes the most sense economically.
  • Set aside a federal research and development budget that will be matched by the private sector to seek the best new products in alternative fuels.

Social Issues

  • Support passage of a constitutional amendment to protect the right to life.
  • Support passage of a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
  • Oppose all embryo-destructive research.
  • Veto any pro-abortion legislation, including federal funding for Planned Parenthood.


  • Make all tuition for higher education tax-deductible
  • Support the rights of parents to home school their children
  • Support states that want to create more charter schools or implement public school choice.
  • Allow states to develop their own benchmarks.
  • Work towards a clear distinction between the federal role in assisting and empowering states and in usurping the right of states to carry out the education programs for their students


  • Advocate policies that will encourage the private sector to seek innovative ways to bring down costs and improve the free market for health care services.
  • Reform medical liability
  • Support the adoption of electronic record keeping
  • Make health insurance more portable from one job to another
  • Expand health savings accounts to include all Americans.
  • Making health insurance tax deductible for individuals and families as it now is for businesses. (Low income families would get tax credits instead of deductions.)
  • Encourage the states’ role as laboratories for new market-based approaches.


  • Ensure that an interlocking surveillance camera system is installed along the border by July 1, 2010.
  • Ensure that the border fence construction is completed by July 1, 2010.
  • Increase the number of border patrol agents.
  • Fully support all law enforcement personnel tasked with enforcing immigration law.
  • Policies that promote or tolerate amnesty will be rejected.
  • Propose to provide all illegal immigrants a 120-day window to register with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services and leave the country. Those who register and return to their home country will face no penalty if they later apply to immigrate or visit; those who do not return home will be, when caught, barred from future reentry for a period of 10 years.
  • This is not a “touchback” provision. Those who leave this country and apply to return from their home country would go to the back of the line.
  • Employment is the chief draw for most illegal immigrants and denying them jobs is the centerpiece of an attrition strategy.
  • Impose steep fines and penalties on employers that violate the law.
  • Institute a universal, mandatory citizenship verification system as part of the normal hiring process.
  • Prevent the IRS and the Social Security Administration from accepting fraudulent Social Security numbers or numbers that don’t match the employees’ names.
  • Promote better cooperation on enforcement by supporting legislative measures such as the CLEAR Act, which aims to systematize the relationship between local law and federal immigration officials.
  • Encourage immigration-law training for police. Local authorities must be provided the tools, training, and funding they need so local police can turn illegal immigrants over to the federal authorities.
  • End exemptions for Mexicans and Canadians to the US-VISIT program, which tracks the arrival and departure of foreign visitors. Since these countries account for the vast majority of foreigners coming here (85 percent), such a policy clearly violates Congress’ intent in mandating this check-in/check-out system.
  • Reject Mexico’s “matricula consular” card, which functions as an illegal-immigrant identification card.
  • Inform foreign governments when their former citizens become naturalized U.S. citizens.
  • Impose civil and/or criminal penalties on American citizens who illegitimately use their dual status (e.g., using a foreign passport, voting in elections in both a foreign country and the U.S.).
  • Eliminate the visa lottery system and the admission category for adult brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.
  • Increase visas for highly-skilled and highly-educated applicants.
  • Expedite processing for those who serve honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Improve our immigration process so that those patiently and responsibly seeking to come here legally will not have to wait decades to share in the American dream.


  • Huckabee’s judicial philosophy: “I believes that the Constitution must be interpreted according to its original meaning, and flatly reject the notion of a “living Constitution.” The meaning of the Constitution cannot be changed by judicial fiat. The powers delegated to the federal government by the Constitution come from “We the People,” and judges have no right to prohibit the people from passing democratically-enacted laws unless we have explicitly authorized them to do so. Nor can vaguely-worded language in the Constitution be used by judges to give them power over subjects the framers never intended our founding document to address. As such, any interpretation of the Constitution that is based on “evolving standards of decency,” penumbras, or any other judicial fiction, is antithetical to the rule of law, and must be forcefully challenged.”
  • Appoint justices and judges who not only share his judicial philosophy (e.g., Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel Alito), but who also have established themselves within the conservative legal community as faithful adherents of originalism and textualism.

Social Security

  • Allow younger workers the option of personal accounts.
  • Allow letting people take the money in their account at retirement and buy an annuity.
  • Encourage “baby boomers” who plan to work into their late 60’s or even beyond by giving them tax breaks, like additional exemptions or a “working senior” deduction.
  • Since some retirees don’t need their Social Security to retire comfortably, offer them the option of a tax-free lump sum for their children or grandchildren to get when they die, which would delay some payments for decades.

National Sovereignty

  • Oppose the Law of the Sea Treaty.
  • Oppose the U. N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • Oppose the North American Union,.
  • Oppose the Kyoto Treaty.

Veteran’s Affairs
Veterans will be provided the following “Bill of Rights”:

  • The right to a mandatory rather than a discretionary mechanism for funding veterans’ health care, to eliminate year-to-year uncertainty that the funds they need will be there for them
  • The right to obtain full and clear explanation of all benefits and comprehensive assistance in obtaining those benefits.
  • The right to have a claim processed within six months.
  • The right to the fullest possible accounting of the fate of POW/MIAs and the right to be designated as POW/MIA.
  • The right to access state-of-the-art treatment facilities for traumatic brain injuries.
  • The right of National Guard and Reserve personnel called to active service to receive the same benefits as active duty veterans.
  • The right of disabled veterans to receive both their military retirement and VA compensation.
  • The right of wounded Reserve troops to be treated like their active duty counterparts until their claims have been processed.
  • The right of wounded veterans and those who have served in combat theaters to a comprehensive GI bill that provides full tuition, books, fees, and living expenses at any institution to which the veteran is accepted.

National Security

  • Increase defense spending to six percent of GDP.
  • Build new planes, new armed vehicles, new robotic land and air vehicles, new ships all right here in America.
  • Recruit and train thousands of new troops and bring our National Guard and Reserves back home. We must increase the size of the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps by about 92,000 troops within two to three years without lowering enlistment standards.
  • Improve the nation’s aging infrastructure (roads, bridges, water systems, sewer systems, etc.).
  • Active-duty forces should not be used for nation building. We must return to our policy of using other government agencies to build schools, hospitals, roads, sewage treatment plants, water filtration systems, electrical facilities, and legal and banking systems.
  • If we are required to undertake a large invasion we must use overwhelming force.
  • [The GWOT] — The Commander-in-Chief has an obligation to clearly communicate to the American people the nature of the war we are fighting, especially the goal of the jihadists: to kill every last one of us, destroy civilization as we know it, and to establish a theocratic caliphate without national borders.
  • [The GWOT] — The United States’ biggest challenge in the Arab and Muslim worlds is the lack of a viable moderate alternative to radicalism. Although we cannot export democracy we should nurture moderate forces that present an alternative to the jihadists.
  • [The GWOT] — The goal in the Arab and Muslim worlds will be to calibrate a course between maintaining stability and promoting democracy. We must not act too hastily but we must act. Specifically, we can help by aiding or promoting basic sanitation, health care, education, jobs, a free press, and fair court systems within these areas.
  • [The GWOT] — We must reduce our dependence on foreign oil if we are going to defeat jihadism.
  • [The GWOT] — We must strengthen both our human intelligence resources and our military assets in order to eliminate the current threat.
  • [Iraq] — We should not withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq any faster than General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander there, recommends. Troops must be brought home based on the conditions on the ground, not on artificial timetables.
  • [The Kurds] — We must encourage Turkey to continue to improve life for its Kurds, and we must encourage the Turkish Kurds to address their grievances through the political process, including through the 20 deputies currently representing them in parliament.
  • [The Kurds] — We should be willing to provide the Turks with actionable intelligence to go after the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) with limited air strikes and commando raids. A even better method would be to train and equip Iraqi Kurds to fight the PKK and rid themselves of this menace.
  • [Iran] — The military option for dealing with Iran should not be taken off the table.
  • [Iran] — Iran is a nation that has to be contained, just as the Soviet Union was during the Cold War. In order to contain Iran, it is essential to win in Iraq. We cannot allow Iran to push its theocracy into Iraq and then expand it further west.
  • [Iran] — We must be as aggressive diplomatically as we have been militarily since 9/11. We must intensify our diplomatic efforts with China, India, Russia, South Korea, and European states and persuade them to put more economic pressure on Iran.
  • [Iran] — Despite the protestations of Congressional Democrats, we should support and continue President Bush’s new sanctions against Iran, his decision to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction, and the classifications of al Quds force as a supporter of terrorism. We must also encourage our state and private pension funds to divest themselves of Iran-related assets.
  • [Iran] — Despite the protestations of Russia, we should move forward with the current plan to set up ten missile interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic to protect Europe from Iranian missiles.
  • [Iran] — We should reestablish diplomatic relations with Iran but only after the Iranians have made concessions that serve to create a less hostile relationship.
  • [Iran] — Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. However, a range of incentives (e.g., trade and economic assistance, full diplomatic relations, and security guarantees) should be offered before moving forward with military action. Before we put our troops at risk in Iran, we should exhaust all diplomatic and economic options.
  • [Pakistan] — On September 12, 2001, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf agreed to sever his relationship with the Taliban and let us fight al Qaeda inside Pakistan. But distracted by Iraq, we have since allowed him to go back on his word. We should pressure him to remain firm in his commitment to us.
  • [Pakistan] — Because the next attack on the U.S. will have been planned in Pakistan, we must go after al Qaeda’s safe havens in that country. The threat of an attack on us is far graver than the risk that a quick and limited strike against al Qaeda would bring extremists to power in Pakistan.
  • [Pakistan] — Musharraf has spent far more energy and enthusiasm sidelining the moderate Pakistani forces (like former Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif) than he has in going after religious extremists and terrorists. We must have a “Pakistan policy” rather than just a “Musharraf policy.”
  • [Pakistan] — We must use our friendly ties with India to encourage and help it improve its relationship with Pakistan and to push for increased trade and cooperation between the two countries, all to bring greater stability to the South Asian region.
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