Santorum Under the Microscope: Social Conservative & Big Government Statist

With his strong showing yesterday in Iowa, pundits are taking a closer look at former Senator Rick Santorum.
James Delingpole at The Telegraph argues today that a President Santorum would be a disaster:

As Michael Tanner notes at NRO, Santorum is the very opposite of what the US wants or needs right now. He’s a big government conservative.

There is no doubt that Santorum is deeply conservative on social issues. He is ardently anti-abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, and no one takes a stronger stand against gay rights. In fact, with his comparison of gay sex to “man on dog” relationships, Santorum seldom even makes a pretense of tolerance. While that sort of rhetoric may play well in Iowa pulpits, it will be far less well received elsewhere in the nation.

At the same time, on economic and size-of-government issues, Santorum’s record is much weaker. In fact, Eric Erickson of Red State refers to Santorum as a “pro-life statist.”

When Hillary Clinton was justly excoriated by conservatives for her book It Takes A Village, which advocated greater government involvement in our lives, Rick Santorum countered with his book, It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good, which advocated greater government involvement in our lives. Among the many government programs he supported: national service, publicly financed trust funds for children, community-investment incentives, and economic-literacy programs in “every school in America” (italics in original).

Santorum’s voting record shows that he embraced George Bush–style “big-government conservatism.” For example, he supported the Medicare prescription-drug benefit and No Child Left Behind.

He never met an earmark that he didn’t like. In fact, it wasn’t just earmarks for his own state that he favored, which might be forgiven as pure electoral pragmatism, but earmarks for everyone, including the notorious “Bridge to Nowhere.” The quintessential Washington insider, he worked closely with Tom DeLay to set up the “K Street Project,” linking lobbyists with the GOP leadership.

He voted against NAFTA and has long opposed free trade. He backed higher tariffs on everything from steel to honey. He still supports an industrial policy with the government tilting the playing field toward manufacturing industries and picking winners and losers.

The truth is Rick Santorum is so left on the issues that matter he makes even Mitt Romney look like a red meat conservative. Be very afraid, Republican America. This is how bad things are.

Newsmax also revealed today that Santorum obtained more than $1 billion of earmarks for Pennsylvania.

Perry’s ad claim that Santorum obtained more than $1 billion in earmarks during his time in office is likely legitimate, according to Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, which tracks government waste.

For instance, Pennsylvania in 2005 received $483 million in earmarks for 872 projects, including $5.4 million for an igloo upgrade for an Army Depot and $5 million for a new visitor center at Gettysburg.

Terry Madonna, a political scientist at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said Santorum had worked closely with Specter on earmarks and wasn’t known to condemn the practice. “It was not a huge issue during his tenure,” he said.

‘Proud of the Money’
Santorum defended himself on Dec. 29 on Fox News: “I’m proud of the money that I did set aside for things that were priorities in my state instead of having bureaucrats do that.”

The online advertisement released by Perry opens with images of pigs — a play on so-called pork-barrel spending –and a clip of a Feb. 26, 2009, Santorum appearance on Fox News in which he says he is “very proud of all the earmarks” he inserted into legislation.

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