The gospel reinterpreted 

The media mythmakers have been working overtime, unquestioningly accepting the words of public officials and printing them as gospel.

Most of the myth-making has been spun, unsurprisingly, by Gov. Mike Huckabee's quarter-of-a-million-dollar media relations staff. A quick round of myth explosions, beginning with a non-Huckster item:

Myth: Little Rock Traffic Judge Bill Watt, according to a fawning account in the statewide daily, was driven from office by politics. "None of my actions in the last 10 years have anything to do with the public service, the quality or the fairness of this court," said the jurist.

Fact: Watt was shown the door by a state regulatory board that found he had, within the last year, unethically operated the truancy program for which he is so admired by the statewide daily; offered what looked suspiciously like a cash payoff to a state legislator in 1995, and admitted improprieties in the Whitewater matter, including recent untruths told the FBI.

Myth: Gov. Mike Huckabee proposes to remove the burden of the sales tax on groceries.

Fact: Huckabee proposes to distribute an annual Huckabuck check during election season to most Arkies (not the poorest). He deems it a rebate on groceries, though there is precious little direct relationship between the rebate and payment of the tax, in either the amount of the rebate (in the first year, it would equal, per person, the tax on only $1.52 a day worth of groceries) or who receives it. The food tax would continue--even more unfairly for the poorest folks--and would even increase under a new sales tax he favors.

Myth: Huckabee couldn't directly remove the sales tax on groceries because it would create headaches for retailers.

Fact: Arkansas grocers already separate food and non-food items at the register for food stamp users. In Texarkana, where food is exempt from the sales tax to mirror Texas law, all purchases are handled in this manner. Stores merely follow simple definitions of food under the food stamp program. In the days of computerized registers, it's a snap to change taxing schemes. Removing the tax on groceries would, however, deprive grocers of nearly $3 million in gravy that the state allows them to keep from tax collections. Huckabee happened not to mention that a reason to keep taxing food was to avoid economic fallout on the powerful retail grocers association.

Myth: Huckabee couldn't remove the state sales tax on groceries because that would imperil the revenue cities and counties receive from the sales tax.

Fact: None of the sales tax proposals ever contemplated exempting food from the local sales taxes, only from the state levy.

Myth: Huckabee favors efficient government.

Fact: His rebate plan would create a larger bureaucracy and millions in printing and postage costs. The rebates could be paid through an income tax credit at virtually no added cost.

Print headline: "The gospel reinterpreted" August 2, 1996.


From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • Guest Playlist: Flap Jones of "Not Necessarily Nashville" schools us on real country music

    "Not Necessarily Nashville," which airs on KUAR-FM 89.1 every Saturday, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., celebrates three decades of the "best of the rest of country music" Saturday, October 21 at the White Water Tavern with Brad Williams of The Salty Dogs & The Creek Rocks, and we asked host Flap Jones to curate a playlist for us ahead of that anniversary celebration.
  • Discussion: State killing of the mentally ill

    The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and others will have a forum on mental illness and the death penalty at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Bowen School of Law's Friday Courtroom.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Caution: government at work

    I have several government targets this week.
    • Oct 19, 2017
  • Pork barrel III

    Mike Wilson, the Jacksonville lawyer and former state representative, for the third time last week won a victory for the Arkansas Constitution and taxpayers and set back pork barreling.
    • Oct 12, 2017
  • Fishy lawmaking

    Last week, the legislature decided not to press a fight that could have further upended a balance of power in Arkansas already tilted too far in favor of the legislative branch.
    • Oct 5, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Caution: government at work

    • The people of Arkansas need to keep demanding that our state government be accountable to…

    • on October 21, 2017
  • Re: Cotton to CIA?

    • Watching C-Span last week, they were talking about Cotton for the head of the FBI…

    • on October 21, 2017
  • Re: The casting couch

    • sigh............ I would argue that the idea of 'freedom from fear' is part of the…

    • on October 19, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation