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A GOP Focus on Defense, Not Deficit

Mike Huckabee speaks at The Citadel. (AP).

By Joel Achenbach
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Mike Huckabee got a hundred or so people last night at The Citadel as a cold rain pelted the Low Country. Huckabee hits some notes that other candidates don't attempt, notably his references to the people at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. After listening to some of the other pro-growth Republicans, it's almost jarring to hear Huckabee say, as he did last night, that although the economy might be going great if you're a CEO or a Wall Street trader, it's going badly "if you're the guy working in the kitchen, if you're handling the bags, if you're the one in the front seat driving the cab, not the one in the back riding."

But Huckabee, like his rivals, all but flexes his bicep when talking about how he'll use decisive military force as commander in chief.

"We win, they lose, and it would happen with overwhelming force. Ladies and gentlemen, we'll practice the Billy Jack school of foreign policy: This heel, on that side of your face, and there's not a thing you can do about it."

The Republican candidates ritually invoke the name of Ronald Reagan, and they also echo him in a way that might make fiscal hawks uncomfortable. They want to spend more money on the military, but also cut taxes. Balance the budget? Not on the agenda. It just doesn't get mentioned much these days, unless you're at a Ron Paul rally.

Mitt Romney said yesterday that he wants 100,000 more soldiers in the American military. He didn't say how he'd pay for it or how the military would find the recruits. And Rudy Giuliani has pushed hard in recent days for expanding the Army and the Marines, adding ships to the Navy and building "a new generation of long-range bombers." He also wants to cut taxes dramatically. He says his plan would cut taxes by $3,000 a year for a typical family of four with an income of $80,000. He'd cut the corporate tax from 35 percent to 25 percent, cut capital gains taxes from 15 percent to 10 percent, and end the estate tax altogether.

Giuliani told Reuters that increased economic activity would make up for lost tax revenue. He'd also try to cut 10 percent of the spending by every civilian agency. He downplayed the deficits of the current administration. "Yes, we have deficits, but, no the deficits are not as great as were predicted when the Bush tax cuts were being enacted."

In Jacksonville this week, Giuliani criticized the Clinton administration for, he said, cutting the military as part of the so-called "peace dividend." Giuliani called that a big mistake.

(In fact, the military draw-down began under President George H. W. Bush. A group called the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments visited this issue when it came up in the 2000 election. Conclusion: The "peace dividend" was a bipartisan decision. And, had Bush won a second term, he would have continued the defense cuts, the group reports.)

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 17, 2008; 1:43 PM ET
Categories:  Joel's S.C. Diary , Mike Huckabee  
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Next: Picking Citrus and Presidents in Florida


We each seem to have our own major issue(s) that make their choice for President seem like the best one. My question is: Would someone tell me why we should NOT elect Ron Paul?

The rest, with Richardson out and Kucinich low in the polls, seem to be talking crazy talk about our military adventures in the Middle East. Additionally, no one else seems to understand the problems with the economy, inflation, and out of control deficit spending. Inflation is going to eat us alive, as it has already started to do so. Do you really believe that the REAL inflation rate last year, the rate that was used by the government for Social Security check increases this month, was 2.3%? Just look at the price of gold up 30% in 2007, now at an all time high and getting higher!

One can not talk about tax cuts without ALSO talking about cutting spending. We have a $9 trillion debt (nearly double since 2000) that must be paid so we can afford Social Security and Medicare. The interest payments will go sky high when we begin to fight inflation with higher Federal Reserve bank rates.

And we must stop inflation or everyone's life savings will go down the tubes, along with the middle class, like what has happened to the middle class in most countries south of our border. And do not forget National Health Insurance, which is coming down the tracks right at us, unless Republicans begin to understand the seriousness of runaway deficits and inflation. And start educating the country. A Democratic President will surely not fight inflation like Volcker and Reagan did!

Please vote Ron Paul and save the country from bankruptcy abroad and at home!

Posted by: RamseySt | January 17, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

I took a 10% pay cut at work, then bought a new Lexus, flat screen TV, and hired a nanny for my kids. I figure the increased revenue from my pay cut will more than cover the new expenses.
Anyone want to float me a loan? You know I'm good for it!

Posted by: vfazio | January 17, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Of course they won't talk about the deficit....THEY CAUSED IT!

Great job, "conservatives".

Posted by: vze2r3k5 | January 17, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse


Were FDR and Truman (he dropped TWO atomic bombs) supposed to be Christians? Are you claiming that Christians cannot fight in any war?


You are calling Huckabee "arrogant" and therefore a "liar"?

Posted by: JakeD | January 17, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Is this the same Mike Huckabee who recently called Bush foreign policy "arrogant"?

"American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out. The Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad."

Mike Hucabee, Foreign Affairs journal, Jan/Feb 2008 issue.

Liar. You're just like him.

Posted by: Bud0 | January 17, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

It is a lie that Bill Clinton cut defence budgets seeking a peace dividend. As this article states, the cuts began with GHW Bush.

US "defense" spending actually began to climb sharply in 1996, halfway through Clinton's presidency, for no good apparent reason.

The rest of the world was still sharply cutting military spending at this time.

Of course, the real reason for the American rejection of the peace dividend became obvious at the outset of the 21st century, when the world realised that the Americans planned to seize on the opportunity offered by the disappearance of the Soviet Union to build their own global military empire.

"...we'll practice the Billy Jack school of foreign policy: This heel, on that side of your face, and there's not a thing you can do about it."
Mainstream US political discourse, 2008

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face--for ever."
George Orwell, 1984

Posted by: Bud0 | January 17, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

When Florida comes we will have our true leader emerge. Rudy Giuliani 2008

Posted by: irizarryrafael | January 17, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Billy Jack School Huh?
Well, just like it was Master Bong Soo Han, who did the kicking for "Big Mouthed" Tom Laughlin, Mitt Romney will be the one actually delivering some of his Vice President's(Huck) Ideas!

But 4 or 8 Years later, just as Tom Laughlin eventually learned to do his own Hapkido in the Later Movies, Huckster should be ready to assume command as well!

Nice analogy there Huckleberry-Get it from Chucky?

Hey Chucky-Hapkido Rules!

Posted by: rat-the | January 17, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"We win, they lose, and it would happen with overwhelming force. Ladies and gentleman, we'll practice the Billy Jack school of foreign policy: This heel, on that side of your face, and there's not a thing you can do about it."

Isn't this guy supposed to be a Christian?

Posted by: adamwick92107 | January 17, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Once upon a time, even DEMOCRATS (i.e. FDR and Truman) were in favor of overwhelming force during wartime.

Posted by: JakeD | January 17, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

"We win, they lose, and it would happen with overwhelming force. Ladies and gentleman, we'll practice the Billy Jack school of foreign policy: This heel, on that side of your face, and there's not a thing you can do about it."

Chilling stuff.
That the entire GOP is not hiding in shame is a testament to the depths to which fear, hatred and their exploiters have driven a once great nation.

Posted by: zukermand | January 17, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: JakeD | January 17, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

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