In an interview (in which I think Huckabee was trying to ensure he wouldn’t be chosen as the Republican vice presidential nominee), Mike Huckabee critiques conservative economic thought (italics mine):
The greatest threat to classic Republicanism is not liberalism; it’s this new brand of libertarianism, which is social liberalism and economic conservatism, but it’s a heartless, callous, soulless type of economic conservatism because it says “look, we want to cut taxes and eliminate government. If it means that elderly people don’t get their Medicare drugs, so be it. If it means little kids go without education and healthcare, so be it.” Well, that might be a quote pure economic conservative message, but it’s not an American message. It doesn’t fly. People aren’t going to buy that, because that’s not the way we are as a people. That’s not historic Republicanism. Historic Republicanism does not hate government; it’s just there to be as little of it as there can be. But they also recognize that government has to be paid for.
If you have a breakdown in the social structure of a community, it’s going to result in a more costly government … police on the streets, prison beds, court costs, alcohol abuse centers, domestic violence shelters, all are very expensive. What’s the answer to that? Cut them out? Well, the libertarians say “yes, we shouldn’t be funding that stuff.” But what you’ve done then is exacerbate a serious problem in your community. You can take the cops off the streets and just quit funding prison beds. Are your neighborhoods safer? Is it a better place to live? The net result is you have now a bigger problem than you had before.
My experience in Arkansas was, a lot of the so-called conservatives said “Let’s cut the budget.” But they wanted to add prison sentences, they wanted to eliminate parole, they wanted to have harsher sentences for various crimes. And I said “OK, that’s fine, but that’s going to be expensive. So which do you want?” You can’t have both, or you do what the federal government has done, and this is where I think Republicans have been especially irresponsible. Their approach has been [to] just kick the can down the road and let your grandkids pay for it.
So they run up huge deficits … but they’ve pushed those costs down to the states, and the states have to eat it, because they have to balance their budgets, they don’t get to print money or borrow. Or the federal government just runs up more deficits and let’s the next couple of generations worry about paying for all this stuff.
Either way, it’s irresponsible, and I think people in America are smarter than that and they know that’s not the responsible way to approach governing.