I’m a big believer in fairness. And since I’ve written about the shortcomings of Newt Gingrich, Mitch Daniels, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and Mitt Romney, I need to say something about Rick Santorum.
Actually, I don’t need to say anything, because other people have done that job already.
Here’s an excerpt of what Conn Carroll of the Washington Examiner wrote.
“Don’t tread on me” — the rallying cry emblazoned on the Gadsden flag — might as well have been the official motto of the Tea Party. If there is one central theme to the most politically effective movement in recent memory, it’s that the federal government needs to get out of our lives. Which is why it is so disheartening that Rick Santorum has become the supposed conservative alternative to Mitt Romney in the Republican primary. You would be hard-pressed to identify a Republican who better embodied the Bush era’s failed big-government/compassionate conservatism experiment.
Conn’s column includes a list of all the terrible legislation Santorum has supported, so feel free to read the entire article if you want to get depressed.
And here’s some of what Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute wrote for National Review.
The good news is that much of Santorum’s plan is centered on lowering taxes. The bad news is that much of his tax relief is either welfare in disguise or social engineering. …Santorum would also triple the personal exemption for dependent children while maintaining the earned-income tax credit and the child tax credit. This move would radically reduce the percentage of taxpayers paying any federal income tax whatsoever. Since he would retain most of the other major individual tax deductions, complexity would not be reduced… This plan caters to the fetishistic political focus on giveaways to manufacturing. An optimal code would reward job-creating businesses regardless of their industry. The radical differences between taxes for manufacturing and other activities would introduce perhaps the biggest and most damaging tax distortion in American history. It would also invite endless fraud. As I type this piece, I am manufacturing sentences, am I not? Shouldn’t my income be taxed as manufacturing?
Kevin also points out good features of Santorum’s plan, such as getting rid of the tax penalty on new investment, but concludes that Santorum’s plan is an implausible mess.
Even the people who say nice things about Santorum inadvertently point out bad policies. Here’s some of what David Brooks wrote as part of a column praising the Pennsylvania Republican.
Santorum has sought to use the federal government to nurture healthy communities. …he came to support AmeriCorps, the federal community service program. Santorum believes Head Start should teach manners to children. He has supported efforts to police the airwaves and corporate marketing campaigns. …If you believe in the centrality of family, you have to have a government that both encourages marriage and also supplies wage subsidies to men to make them marriageable.
I’m not sure if the last excerpt is something Santorum has endorsed, or if it’s something Brooks is endorsing, but it’s probably the most absurd idea I’ve heard in a long time. Do these people really think it’s the job of the federal government to make men more marriageable? Or that such a program would actually work?
Last but not least, Jon Henke neatly shows what’s wrong with Rick Santorum by juxtaposing two quotes to illustrate the decline of the GOP.
From Ronald Reagan:
If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. … The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.
To Rick Santorum:
One of the criticisms I make is to what I refer to as more of a libertarianish right. … This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I don’t think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone. That there is no such society that I am aware of, where we’ve had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.
Santorum’s straw-man attack on libertarians is especially silly and sophomoric. We want a smaller federal government precisely because we value the institutions of civil society as well as the principle of individual liberty.
Someone who doesn’t understand the value of freedom probably shouldn’t be in the White House. Heck, Santorum probably thinks this satirical video is an accurate portrayal of libertarianism.
But if you want another George W. Bush, feel free to support Santorum.