The Washington Times
"5 Questions with Rick Santorum"
Rick Santorum’s insurgent primary campaign for the Republican presidential nomination won 3 million votes and 11 states. Before running for the White House, Mr. Santorum’s long record of public service included two terms in the U.S. Senate and two terms in the House of Representatives, where he was elected to go at 32 years old. On Capitol Hill, he stood out for his bold leadership on pro-life issues and welfare reform. The former senator is author of the 2005 bestseller, “It Takes a Family” (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2005). You can find out more about his current project, Patriot Voices, at: patriotvoices.com.
Decker: You have launched a new grassroots group called Patriot Voices. What do you hope to achieve through this organization?
Santorum: As you point out, this is a grassroots, issue-based group. We want to mobilize Americans who believe that family is the foundation for a healthy society and strong economy, who believe in freedom and American exceptionalism, and who believe in entrepreneurship and opportunity and personal responsibility. We want to help connect Americans to others who are like-minded, who are committed to fighting for the America we believe in, but know that there is strength in numbers and by organizing and coordinating we can be more effective. We will create an issue environment that promotes public policies that are in keeping with our beliefs and opposes policies that undermine the basic tenets of our country. A part — although not the major purpose — will be identifying candidates and lawmakers who support and share our convictions and we will hold accountable those who serve in elected office.
Right now, we are committed to educating the American people on the threat posed by a second term for Barack Obama by simply communicating his record, his beliefs, his statements and letting him speak for himself in his opposition to our fundamental beliefs of family, a strong economy, freedom and American exceptionalism. He actually does not believe that America is exceptional — neither he nor Michelle Obama believe that, and they have said that in public comments over the years. The American people need to be educated about what the Obamas actually do believe and how it is directly contrary to our views. It explains why he believes Obamacare and government control of our lives make for a better country than the America we have grown up with and believe in. It is two very different worldviews and drawing that stark contrast must be the top priority if we are to save our nation for our children and grandchildren.
I am excited about America and her future, and the American people have an opportunity to restore her greatness and to focus once again on protecting liberty and creating opportunity. To do this, I believe it is important to build on the core of the American experience: the family. Strong families create the independence from government that is necessary for economic freedom, and this fact has been neglected by the current administration. We also need to shift the burden on regulations to the government rather than to the American people. We need to restrain government and lower taxes to promote growth. And we must provide for a strong defense to protect our freedom from our enemies and promote our values and interests around the world.
Decker: The mission of Patriot Voices is to promote faith, family, freedom and opportunity. On the opportunity front, your website advocates renewing America as an economic power by — among other things — restarting our manufacturing capabilities. As a Detroiter, this really jumped out at me, but manufacturing is not something one hears Republicans talking about very often. What do you think needs to be done on this front?
Santorum: Restoring America’s greatness starts with manufacturing. Manufacturing has epitomized the loss of American jobs and innovation over the past several decades, and by reinvigorating this crucial sector of our economy, the multiplier effect will spur job growth rates not seen in decades. Rebuilding America’s manufacturing base will unleash new opportunities and potential for all Americans, especially the 70 percent who do not attend college. These are middle-income Americans who would be economically benefited by good-paying manufacturing jobs. As China continues to build its manufacturing sector, we must keep up stride-for-stride.
We believe we can do this through pro-growth tax and regulatory reforms. Specifically, I would like to see the corporate tax rate cut in half to 17.5 percent for most businesses, helping to level the playing field between small and big businesses, and eliminate corporate taxes altogether for manufacturing activity. This will quickly create job opportunities for struggling middle-income families and renew communities that have lost critical manufacturing jobs. This will effectively be a Jack Kemp-like national enterprise zone for manufacturing so we can go head-to-head with China and other countries and win. We will also help spur immediate job creation by permitting corporations to repatriate their overseas earnings back to the U.S. at a 5.25 percent tax rate, while eliminating taxes on earnings brought back for U.S. plant and equipment investments. To spur innovation, I also support increasing the Research and Development Tax Credit from 14 percent to 20 percent, making it permanent, and allowing 100 percent expensing for new business equipment.
Decker: One of my mentors, journalist M. Stanton Evans, says the problem with conservatives inside the Beltway is that they come to town thinking Washington is a cesspool but eventually decide it’s a hot tub. One of the goals of Patriot Voices is to monitor elected officials and hold them accountable for sticking to conservative principles. That’s a great idea, but how do you do it?
Santorum: Patriot Voices represents Americans from across this great country, the wonderful people we met and who joined our cause during the campaign earlier this year. These are the people we speak for and who ultimately will be the judge of the politicians we send to Washington. So they are the ones who will hold them accountable, and we’ll act as their voice in Washington. Patriot Voices’ core mission is to make YOUR voice heard — together, your voice can be multiplied by a million.
Already, we have built a substantial social network that has mobilized on critical issues. For example, when it was brought to our attention that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was going to vote on a U.N. treaty [Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities] that would have put Americans under international laws on parenting special-needs children, Patriot Voices gave a voice to the many thousands of Americans who find this completely unacceptable. Along with like-mind organizations, we will keep up the fight.
Decker: There is a huge fight being waged now over the Obama administration’s attempt to force religious institutions to cover drugs or procedures that go against their moral teachings. This government threat to religious liberty is particularly acute for the Catholic Church because of its positions against contraception, sterilization and abortion. What is fundamentally at stake in this battle, and what can the faithful do to protect their freedom of conscience?
Santorum: While the president may find it inconvenient, the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights begins with the most important foundational freedom. This is not an accident. This is central to the promise and the exceptional nature of America. We are to honor our first freedom, religious freedom, and the rights of the majority and minorities to live out the free exercise of religion. We have this freedom not only in our personal lives but in the public square as well. We have the freedom to pursue happiness in the service of our faith, in the service of our families and in the service of others. The government will not establish a religion; it will not pick winners and losers; it will instead protect the right of all to believe or not to believe and to practice one’s beliefs in society.
I stand with the words of the Declaration of Independence, the birth certificate of this great nation. Our rights come from God, not government. When government defines what rights Americans can have, they can also take those rights away. In this instance, the government is trying to take away the fundamental rights of conscience and religion — or force you to practice them in the way it wants.
The most insulting portion of Obamacare is this very effort to destroy our freedom of conscience. Under Obamacare, the Department of Health and Human Services now requires that Americans will directly pay for ending the life of an unborn child. Obamacare forces faith-based hospitals and other social-service providers and religious organizations to provide employees with health insurance that covers free birth control and sterilization procedures — including the morning-after pill — and abortions. This clearly violates current law that has long prohibited the funding for abortion, as well as funding for insurance plans that include abortion. Of course, this is completely unacceptable.
Decker: You made a stunning run for the Republican presidential nomination, winning 11 states. Your candidacy sent a strong message to the Republican establishment that it could not take conservatives for granted. What about your unique message — especially on the social and cultural issues — is vital for the GOP ticket to emphasize in the run-up to the November election?
Santorum: I don’t think my message is unique at all. My message is one that was supported by hundreds of thousands of Americans we met in Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida and dozens of other states during our campaign. It’s a message that, yes, carried the day in 11 states, and was well represented in many more.
A large part of our message is one of strengthening the family and, by doing so, strengthening our economy. A Brookings Institute study in 2009 found that only 2 percent of Americans who work, graduate from high school and get married before having children end up in poverty. What’s more, 77 percent of these Americans are above the national average in income, and 85 percent of those in the top quintile of income in the U.S. are married. But today in America, marriage is declining. In 1960, 72 percent of U.S. adults age 18 and over were married. Today, that rate has dropped to 51 percent. We must spend future decades working to build up traditional families. I commend President Obama for being a good father; but his policies help to undermine fatherhood.
Our message wasn’t just moral and cultural; it was also about the security of our country — economic security and national security. The American people want authenticity and to be told the truth, what the problems are that we face and what our options are for addressing them. Look at Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. He has shown that Americans support politicians who tell the truth even if the truth is hard to hear.