GOP Economy: Rick Santorum's economic plan

Republican presidential hopeful former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum speaks at the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit in Washington on October 7, 2011.

Home state: Pennsylvania. (Born in Winchester, Va.)

Economic platform: He unveiled his “zero-zero-zero” plan in a speech at the Value Voters conference Oct. 7, 2011. Santorum’s first zero would be to nix any taxes on repatriation of funds invested overseas. He also proposes to levy zero taxes on U.S. manufacturers and he promises to remove any and all business regulations proposed by President Obama.

Santorum’s plan draws as much from family values as it does from economics.

At an Oct. 11 debate, Santorum insisted that the strength of the American economy is predicated on the strength of the family. “You want to look at the poverty rate among families that have... a husband and wife working in them? It’s 5 percent today. A family that’s headed by one person? It’s 30 percent today.” The non-partisan fact-checking organization Politifact rates this as “half-true.” They point to numbers from the Census Bureau that confirm a disparity in poverty rates between single and double income families—27 percent versus 6.8 percent in 2010 (not quite Santorum’s figures). 

The rest of Santorum’s plan draws from mainstream GOP themes. He favors a “simpler-fairer-flatter” tax code that would lower rates on higher income families and cut the corporate tax in half. His website says that Obama’s health care overhaul and environmental regulations are anti-business burdens, and a Santorum presidency would toss those go out the window. Santorum argues that America needs to put aside its “naive” quest for green jobs and focus on developing traditional domestic energy sources, including natural gas and nuclear.

Defense: Santorum is a firm believer in American exceptionalism. He sees the conflict with terrorist organizations not as a war on terror, but a war with radical Islam. He believes a strong military is the best way to defeat the enemy. “I would absolutely not cut one penny out of military spending,” Santorum said at the Oct. 18 GOP debate.

Education: He believes that education is first and foremost a family responsibility. “The education system should sit down and work with parents to design a program that's best for that child -- not children, that child,” Santorum said in an Iowa town hall. He believes in a statewide voucher system to allow children access to public schools. Unlike some of his GOP rivals, Santorum doesn’t advocate eliminating the Department of Education, though he agrees it should have a reduced role.

Housing: N/A

Health care: He once denounced Obama’s health care overhaul as a plan that would “rob America of its soul.” He supports Congressman Paul Ryan’s plan of offering a voucher system to seniors in Medicare who are unable to afford prescription medications under the current system. He has not laid out a specific plan, though he has mentioned in an interview on Fox News that he favors a patient-driven system.

Social Security: Santorum says privatize it. He pushed back against entitlement programs as a senator, and remains committed to individual accounts as a way to fix social security. He has also mentioned that a lack of workers supporting current retirees is weakening the system, and he pinpoints abortion as the culprit of a shrinking future labor force.

The National Debt: He supports a balanced budget amendment that would rein in government spending. During the debate over whether to raise the debt ceiling, he supported the decision to “not vote for a debt-ceiling increase until [Congress] gets a balanced budget amendment passed.” Entitlement programs would see the largest cut in a Santorum presidency. He would like to cap federal spending at 18 percent of gross domestic product.

Taxes: In addition to cutting all taxes on manufacturers, he favors halving the tax rate on corporations and would impose little to no taxes on corporate profits repatriated from overseas.

About the author

Tom Dotan is a graduate student at the University of Southern California and Editor-at-Large for Neon Tommy.

Republican presidential hopeful former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum speaks at the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit in Washington on October 7, 2011.

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