What Mike Huckabee Means to the Economy

IN THE SMALL GRANITE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE, voters in today’s presidential primary could be making a choice for the entire country.

With two surprise winners emerging from last week’s Iowa caucuses, the race for the nomination in each party has become closer and more difficult to predict. On the Democratic side, the candidates are battling with issues of change, experience, charisma and electability. As muddled as that situation appears, things are even more difficult on the other side.

The Republican Party in 2008 is going through an identity crisis. While the polled supporters of President Bush have disappeared faster than Waldo at a candy stripers convention, candidates for his job are playing a game of tug of war over many of Bush’s major positions.

The war in Iraq, tax rates, recession and social and religious concerns are the issues largely dominating the Republican political landscape. If you agree with the current administration’s position on any of those three issues, there is a candidate for you in this year’s primary. But you simply aren’t going to find all the issues addressed in one person.

The traditional values of the Republican Party include several social, economic and foreign policy stances. Many Republican voters traditionally align themselves with the Christian Right and make many decisions politically and personally from the chapters and verses of the Bible.

Long ago, the Republican Party became the unofficial voice of evangelical Christians. All four of the leading candidates on the Republican side are Christians who believe in many socially conservative measures. Only Rudy Giuliani has dared to be different with his relaxed views on abortion and gay marriage. While Giuliani may have ventured to be different than his opponents, he has not yet distanced himself from the base values of the Republican Party, the party of the Bible.

Economically, however, Republicans have distanced themselves from many of the Bible’s teachings. Only one candidate has married the teachings of the Bible with his economic political positions. This one candidate is quickly becoming a strong contender for the nomination, and may also be pulling the wool over the eyes of his voting base.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, last week’s winner in Iowa, shapes almost all of his opinions and views from his religious beliefs. The former Baptist minister caters to the more extreme and evangelical side of the Christian Right and has become its “savior” in this election. Unlike his Republican opponents, Huckabee does not differentiate between religion and party politics when it comes to issues.

If it is a wholly conservative and Republican position to lower taxes and limit the government’s power in the economy, Huckabee believes the Christian opinion should be the opposite.

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
— Matthew 25:40

This is a Biblical quote that Huckabee has often used as a way to explain his positions. Traditionally, Republican politicians have found a way to keep their religious and social beliefs separate from their economic stances. Huckabee has found a way to mix the two together, giving a very liberal and traditionally Democratic economic message wrapped in his right-leaning religious doctrine.

Perhaps this is the across-the-aisle uniter we’ve been looking for since the nation as divided as ever during the 2004 and 2006 elections. Perhaps Huckabee can uniquely appeal to the ideologies of both parties without truly alienating either one.

Most likely not.

Many financial analysts view Huckabee’s attitudes toward Wall Street and the corporate world as frightening and potentially dangerous. His record also indicates that he is not a proponent of free trade, and he has also supported a raise in the minimum wage. These are normally ideas that contradict with many Republicans.’

Most of Huckabee’s economic views are shared by his colleagues on the left. Yet if Huckabee were running as a Democrat, his religious views would likely keep him out of any serious consideration. So which has become more important to the country?

A nomination of Huckabee would cast economic concerns to the back burner and spotlight only the religious and social differences between the two parties. The Republican Party would be solely the party of the Christian Right. The party that Thomas Jefferson helped start — the party of limited government and fiscal responsibility — would now be the party of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

For all the religious conservatism of the Bush administration, it lived up to many of the doctrines of the Republican Party economically and internationally. One of the few criticisms Bush receives from the members of his party is that he has been too liberal when it comes to his spending. As far as socially liberal members of the left are concerned, Mike Huckabee would bring to office all of the worst parts of George Bush, while still not completely satisfying their left-leaning economic views.

For religious conservatives, ask yourselves what is more likely: Will Huckabee be able to live up to his promises of overturning Roe v. Wade and passing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, or will he find both issues to be far too difficult while dealing with what is likely to remain a Democrat-controlled Congress?

Voters in Iowa have already made their voices heard, and if New Hampshire echoes their sentiments, the fiscal conservatives may find their voices silenced completely in the coming national election. Candidates like John McCain, Mitt Romney and Giuliani will find their campaigns in peril if Huckabee can carry New Hampshire. Yet the harm done to their individual campaigns could pale in comparison to the harm done to our economy over the next four years.

In an election year when we could easily be seeing a recession and weakening of our stock market and currency, a left-leaning, anti-Wall Street candidate like Huckabee will likely make matters worse.

The Republican Party is searching for its identity, and voters will have to decide between attainable political goals and unrealistic ideological changes. Which will it be, New Hampshire — fiscal responsibility with a limited reach of the federal government or a faith-based approach to all things political? The decision will be made today, and the future of an entire party may be on the line.

Until next time,
Jamie Ellis
January 8, 2008

Greg’s Endnote: If guys like Huckabee get their way, we may be in for an economic slowdown. Voters around the country will be deciding our fate within the next few weeks. If the country enters into another stagnant period, you’ll have to be pretty crafty to see any growth from your investments. Luckily, there are still stocks that you can feel comfortable betting on, even when times get tough.