Huckabee Defends Trump’s $1 Trillion Spending Package. He Condemned Obama’s Plan. What’s the Difference?
Appearing on Fox News’ “Hannity” Tuesday, former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee defended Donald Trump’s proposed trillion-dollar infrastructure initiative:
“Well, let’s first just talk about the fact that we really do have probably two-three trillion dollars in total needs that have been identified by the Civil Engineers of America. And I know that sounds like, ‘Well, let’s just go and spend a bunch of government money.’
But Eric, in some cases, it’s the government that has to spend the money to build things like roads, and bridges, and airports–water [treatment plants]. Here’s a fact: if you build roads, for every billion dollars that you spend building a road, a highway, you put 7,900 people to work at the job site. If you start adding the indirect jobs, you’re talking about 16,000 – 17,000 more jobs.
So, the best way to get people off of government support is to give them a job. The most effective way to put people on a job is to do infrastructure jobs cause it’s the one thing you cannot outsource.”
When asked by guest-host Eric Bolling about how the United States should pay for Trump’s infrastructure program, Huckabee suggested a 10% tax on American money that’s been kept overseas, and investing it in infrastructure bonds. Huckabee also suggested putting some federal land in the private sector so that it can be taxed.
Many conservatives are calling Mike Huckabee a hypocrite for defending Donald Trump’s stimulus plan, when just a few years ago, he condemned a similarly large spending plan proposed by President Obama. This, however, is a specious argument.
Trump’s stimulus plan revolves entirely around infrastructure–roads, bridges, water pipes, sewers, buildings, etc. Obama’s 2009 stimulus plan cast a much wider net, with money going to education, tax incentives, healthcare, aid for low-income workers, and energy. Only about 10% of the $831 billion plan was actually allocated to infrastructure spending, according to James Freeman of The Wall Street Journal.
There are stark differences between Obama’s stimulus package and Trump’s infrastructure plan. Considering such differences, it would be foolish to label Huckabee a hypocrite for supporting one and not the other. That said, it would be correct to call foolish Huckabee’s pronouncement that “the most effective way to put people on a job is to do infrastructure jobs.”
There’s a great myth surrounding infrastructure spending and joblessness. Many politicians–both Democratic and Republican–claim that because mass infrastructure spending creates “shovel ready” jobs, it’s an effective way to reduce unemployment. In the short term, this is true. However, once any infrastructure project is complete, the jobs it created disappear, and unemployment rises. Conservatives know this–but Mike Huckabee isn’t a conservative.
Huckabee has long supported infrastructure spending as a means of revivifying the economy. In 2008, he announced “The Huckabee Plan: Four Guiding Principles for Strengthening America’s Infrastructure.” He told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that same year that “some long-term ways to stimulate [the] American economy…[would be] infrastructure.”
It’s important to clarify issues before making accusations. Mike Huckabee is indeed under the misapprehension that infrastructure spending stimulates the economy–something denounced by conservative economists. However, his defense of Donald Trump’s proposed infrastructure plan isn’t inconsistent with his past condemnation of Obama’s stimulus package.