Speaking at Ashbrook’s 27th annual Memorial Dinner on June 28, 2012, former Arkansas Governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee commented on the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Health Care Act, which had just been delivered that morning. Huckabee expressed astonishment at Justice Robert’s opinion, which properly denied commerce clause justification for the law yet upheld it by reinterpreting it as a tax. He quipped that “for three and a half years, President Obama has blamed everything that has gone wrong in his presidency on George W. Bush. Well, for once he is right, because Bush appointed the Chief Justice who wrote this bone-headed opinion!”
Huckabee’s fluidity in analyzing an hours-old ruling testified to his ongoing work as a nationally syndicated radio commentator and host of FOX-TV’s top-rated “Huckabee Report.” He detailed the hidden advantage to Republicans he found in Roberts’ ruling:
I would rather be a Republican over the next several months than a Democrat, because I would find it very difficult justifying the largest single tax increase in the history of the US, especially at a time of 8.2 percent unemployment, at a time of record deficits . . . at a time when we have a lowered credit rating, energy prices that are substantially higher than they were four years ago, an economy that is nowhere near getting back in the saddle; and at a time when we have young people who now have five-figure student loans that they cannot pay off because after having graduated from college they are back home living with their parents, filing 500 applications and getting no job offers in their field . . . when 85 percent of the undergrads who graduated a year ago in May are back home living with their parents. . . . I would hate to defend the largest single tax increase in the history of the US, especially if my party had told everybody that Obamacare wasn’t going to increase their costs.
Huckabee went on to explain the faulty logic inherent in the health care act, likening its way of broadening health insurance benefits to the wishful thinking of a consumer who would try to insure his home after it had burned down or his car after he had wrecked it. No private insurer, he pointed out, can “write a policy to cover unlimited benefits with no preexisting conditions and no restraint on costs and still make a profit.” Hence, Huckabee concluded, Obamacare was really an attempt on the part of Democrats to introduce their preferred plan by the back door; as the act drove private insurers out of business, Congress could then find it necessary to impose a single-payer system.
Huckabee gave his own prescription for America’s ailing health care system. What America faces is neither a healthcare crisis nor a health insurance crisis; it is a simple health crisis, he said. “Between 75 and 80 percent of the costs of health care in America are spent on chronic disease,” he explained, and this disease is driven mainly by factors under our own control: “over-eating, under-exercising, and smoking.” Our real need, Huckabee said, is for a “prevention-based system.”
According to Huckabee, the great weakness of the country’s health insurance system is that it is “a third party system that is neither personal nor portable. It is owned by your employer” and stays with the employer when the consumer takes a new job. Decisions about health insurance ought rather to be in the hands of individual consumers who choose how much coverage to buy and at what cost. Republicans should articulate a common-sense plan for reaching this sort of system, he said. “We should not just talk about what we are against but rather what we are for,” he insisted.
Huckabee praised the Ashbrook program for spreading knowledge of American’s founding principles. “How refreshing it is to visit a school that unapologetically believes that our Constitutional form of government is worth defending and that it is the greatest experiment in government in history of mankind.” Huckabee himself, a former Baptist minister and avowed evangelical Christian, did not shrink from crediting Providence for America’s success in its Revolution. The Founders succeeded in defying an imperial Britain, even though they lacked “the resources, the training, the equipment, and the military experience” of their mother country. They “had to have had more on their side than those rusty muskets that they reached for off their mantels.”
But for Huckabee, giving credit to “the Creator God” for American success also implies being held accountable by the same God for “protecting and preserving and passing on this great country to the next generation.” For this reason, the nation’s “17 trillion dollar debt is not just a matter that is unfortunate; it is a matter that is immoral. We are sinning against the future generations of young Americans” if instead of reining in the debt we continue excessive spending on the government-dispersed benefits that we currently find attractive. “The greatest challenge to America,” Huckabee argued, “is not the indifference and incompetence of those in Washington but the indifference and incompetence of those who put them there in first place”—an uninvolved electorate. Huckabee concluded by thanking Ashbrook donors who fund the work of educating Americans in their true principles.