October 16, 2007


He spouts off the best one-liners (though Governor Romney's concern that Jennifer Granholm was going to tax the debate was up there). But Governor Huckabee drops further on my list every week. The Club for Growth and WSJ Ed Page have hammered him for tax increases during his tenure as Arkansas Governor. He waffled -- badly -- of trade in the last debate. Now John Fund tells us he's joined the cappers-and-traders:

Mike Huckabee continues to demonstrate his populist, anti-free market bent. Fresh from a debate in Michigan where he showed skepticism about free trade and President Bush's veto of a budget-busting health care bill, the former Arkansas governor has now embraced a mandatory cap on global-warming emissions.

"It goes to the moral issue,'' he told a climate-change conference over the weekend in New Hampshire. "We have a responsibility to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, to conserve energy, to find alternative forms of energy that are renewable and sustainable and environmentally friendly.''

Most disturbingly, Mr. Huckabee says he backs a discredited "cap-and-trade" approach that would apply to the entire U.S. economy. Used in Europe with completely ineffective results, the scheme would create an artificial market for buying and selling permits to emit carbon dioxide. Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan used his new book "The Age of Turbulence" to throw cold water on the idea. "I have grave doubts that international agreements imposing a globalized so-called cap-and-trade system on CO2 emissions will prove feasible," Mr. Greenspan wrote. "There is no effective way to meaningfully reduce emissions without negatively impacting a large part of an economy. Jobs will be lost and real incomes of workers constrained."

But environmentalists in Mr. Huckabee's audience swooned. "I was impressed," said Larry Schweiger, head of the National Wildlife Federation, which supports cap-and-trade. "He's only the second Republican candidate [after John McCain] to say he supports cap-and-trade, which we believe is the real critical part of any effort to stop global warming.''

Many analysts believe Mr. Huckabee has a chance to sew up the support of social conservatives given the perceived liberalism of frontrunners Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. His admirers note that Mr. Huckabee has been moving up in polls lately in both Iowa and New Hampshire. That may be so, but he clearly is taking positions that leave economic conservatives scratching their heads and wondering just which party's nomination this new man from Hope, Arkansas thinks he's running for.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at October 16, 2007 1:20 PM