Opinion

Where Other Republicans Fear To Tread: Why I Spoke To The AFL-CIO

Mike Huckabee Former Arkansas Governor

In my campaign for president, I go where other Republicans fear to tread. I’ve addressed Hispanic leaders in Texas, African-American churchgoers in South Carolina, and this week I’m the only Republican candidate to speak at the AFL-CIO’s executive council meeting.

Many on the right and left ask, “Why does Huckabee go there?”

The answer is simple: God doesn’t elevate one person over another. Every American – man or woman, white or black, young or old, rich or poor — is worth fighting for. I’m a Republican not because I grew up rich. I don’t come from a family dynasty, but a working family. I grew up blue collar, not blue blood. I’ve been fighting for the forgotten long before it was the cool thing to do — particularly in the GOP.

I won’t agree with the AFL-CIO on everything, but I do agree that American workers have been getting punched in the gut and kicked in the teeth. For the last 40 years, wages for 90 percent of Americans have been flat. Since 2000, we have lost 5 million manufacturing jobs and closed 60,000 manufacturing plants. Today we have 46 million Americans dependent on government food stamps. This is not a recovery.

Politicians speak of a “booming” economy. Maybe that’s because six of the ten richest counties in America surround Washington even though they produce nothing other than government. I’ll never be the Washington-Wall Street candidate.  After all, I’m fighting for Americans who have been locked-out and left behind.

I’ve been proud to stand with America’s workers against the recent ObamaTrade deal. If this deal was so good, why did Congress add billions to help American workers who will lose their jobs when it passes? We must reject bad trade deals that import cheap labor and drive wages lower than the Dead Sea.

As president, I’ll enforce trade deals that grow America’s economy, not China’s. I’ll empower all hardworking American men and women to share in America’s prosperity, not just Washington-Wall Street elites. But trade is not just an economic issue, it’s a national security issue. The United States must be able to feed, fuel and fight for itself, because any nation that can’t do so will not remain prosperous or free.

We can never create prosperity for working people, grow our economy out of the bottomless pit of debt, and move America back to the greatest economy on earth if we punish productivity and subsidize reckless irresponsibility. It’s time we pass the FairTax so workers keep their entire paycheck. The FairTax would reinvest $11 trillion that’s currently parked offshore, growing our economy, and creating good jobs for American workers. It’s time we end big government bailouts and finally eliminate the biggest bully in America: the IRS.

I will also protect Social Security and Medicare and never rob seniors of what our government promised them and forced them to pay for. It’s completely immoral to change the rules at the end of the game depriving seniors of their hard-earned benefits. We can’t cut or tax our way out of this mess — we have to grow our way out. That will never happen if we try and make seniors who played by the rules atone for the sins of Washington politicians.

Republicans must do better among Hispanics, African-Americans, and union households to win back the White House in 2016. But this is more than just presidential politics. Washington divides America horizontally: right-left, Republican-Democrat, conservative-liberal. But I believe most Americans think vertically. Who’s going to take this country up and who will take it down? That’s why I’m running for president — to take America up, from hope to higher ground.

Mike Huckabee a Republican candidate for president and former Governor of Arkansas.