Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has earned his reputation as a fiscal liberal. The Club for Growth, America’s chief organization for fiscal conservatism, has documented his indiscretions.
But his 2016 presidential bid provided Huckabee an opportunity to redefine himself. Instead, he has doubled down, presenting himself as the candidate who will:
protect Social Security and Medicare. I will kill anything that poses a threat to the promises we have made to America’s seniors.
The biggest threat to the future (and substantial burden to the present) of America is the 18 trillion dollar national debt, as well as over 200 trillion in future liabilities. Drastic action is needed. That means abolishing functions of the federal government and reforming others. Because so many Americans are literally dependent on Social Security and Medicare, they cannot be taken away overnight, However, if we do nothing to stop their growth, fiscal reality will take them away quite harshly.
This chart from Heritage does a great job illustrating our plight:
Huckabee argues, regardless of fiscal reality, that it would be wrong to reform the entitlement programs because a loss in benefits constitutes stealing. No, Mike, the stealing occurs when people and businesses are forced to pay FICA taxes in the first place, not when structural issues and political greed leave the programs facing insolvency. Once the government takes your money, you are foolish to expect it back. There is a reason the Founders never put these programs in the Constitution: the federal government was never intended to be in the healthcare and retirement businesses.
Instead of lamenting the stealing that has already taken place, why not take steps to prevent more of it in the future? How is it moral to support perpetual, multi-generational stealing in order to “pay” for past stealing? How is it moral to cut off seniors cold turkey when the federal government is not allowed to borrow anymore?
Of course, nobody is proposing cutting benefits from current, non-wealthy seniors. But Huckabee perpetrates the myth of pushing grandma off a cliff.
Make no mistake: if Republicans (particularly stubborn seniors) cannot acknowledge that Medicare and Social Security must face cuts, they are part of the problem. Just as hawkish Republicans must acknowledge that military spending needs to be reduced. Just as rural Republicans and corporate Republicans need to acknowledge that business welfare is just as bad (if not worse) as personal welfare.
Conservatives have to tell the truth. And that means telling the truth about our fiscal condition. Like all good politicians, Mike Huckabee has chosen to demographically pander and kick the can down the road.