by Cliff Sims
Hundreds of Alabama business leaders and elected officials packed into the Sheraton Hotel ballroom in downtown Birmingham last night for the annual Business Council of Alabama Chairman’s Dinner featuring keynote speakers Gov. Mike Huckabee and Dr. Ben Carson.
Carson is a retired neurosurgeon who made history by becoming the first doctor to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the back of the head. He gained national notoriety in political circles earlier this year for his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, during which we calmly excoriated progressive taxation and the government’s emerging role in healthcare with President Obama sitting only a few feet away.
What about our taxation system? So complex there is no one who can possibly comply with every jot and tittle of our tax system. If I wanted to get you, I could get you on a tax issue. That doesn’t make any sense. What we need to do is come up with something that is simple.
When I pick up my Bible, you know what I see? I see the fairest individual in the Universe, God, and he’s given us a system. It’s called tithe. Now we don’t necessarily have to do it 10% but it’s principle. He didn’t say, if your crops fail, don’t give me any tithes. He didn’t say, if you have a bumper crop, give me triple tithes. So there must be something inherently fair about proportionality. You make $10 Billion dollars you put in a Billion. You make $10 you put in $1 – of course, you gotta get rid of the loopholes, but now now some people say, that’s not fair because it doesn’t hurt the guy who made $10 Billion dollars as much as the guy who made $10. Where does it say you have to hurt the guy. He’s just put in a billion in the pot. We don’t need to hurt him.
Carson echoed those comments on Tuesday night, giving particularly harsh criticism to the IRS and expressing frustration with America’s highest-in-the-world corporate tax rate that he said compels companies to keep jobs and resources overseas.
Carson went on to touch on a broad range of subjects, including Hillary Clinton’s potential 2016 presidential race, the American media’s complicity in the leftwing narrative and the overreaching Environmental Protection Agency — all of which drew approval from the crowd.
Carson’s low-key style was seen in contrast with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, whose roots as a Baptist preacher were on display as he followed Carson at the podium.
Huckabee kicked of his remarks by reminding the crowd that Alabama had been one of a handful of states that voted Huckabee first in its presidential primary in 2008.
Huckabee used a story from his experience raising children to illustrate how America’s current tax structure is sending the wrong signals to businesses and entrepreneurs.
“When you’re raising children, if you want to encourage certain behavior, you reward it, but when you want certain behavior to stop, you use discipline to punish it,” Huckabee said. “America’s tax code takes the exact opposite approach. When entrepreneurs do a good job and turn a profit, they’re punished with higher taxes, but when they make bad decisions and lose money, we just let them write it off. Our whole system is currently set up to encourage bad behavior and punish people for doing a good job.”
But Huckabee saved his most pointed criticisms for third-party groups that run ads attacking candidates while hiding behind laws that don’t require them to disclose their donors. That makes it impossible to find out who is behind the attacks. Huckabee said it discourages good people from wanting to run because their family is sure to be drug through the mud.
Interestingly, that section of Huckabee’s speech may have received the largest applause of the night.
Huckabee closed out the night with a full-throated endorsement of Common Core State Standards, a program that seeks to implement universal education standards across all 50 states. The program has been applauded in the business community as a way to ensure future competitiveness in a global economy. But Common Core has become a central issue among many in the conservative grassroots who view it as an ill-advised federal encroachment into education.