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Santorum promotes new economic approach

| Wednesday, September 17, 2014

SantorumSarah Olson | The Observer
Former Pennsylvania senator and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum spoke to a capacity crowd in the Carey Auditorium of the Hesburgh Library on Wednesday afternoon, and said Republicans must refocus their efforts and political strategy on strengthening the American family.

Santorum, who was also promoting his book, “Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to an America That Works,” said promoting family is economically and socially beneficial, but often draws criticism.

“The biggest determiner of economic success: family structure, by far,” Santorum said. “If you come from a single parent family, [it’s a] much harder road.

“And yet if you talk about the importance of family, the importance of marriage, the importance of mothers and father raising children, you are a dinosaur. You are a old-fashioned, out-of-step, moralizing hater, when all you’re trying to do is give kids in America a chance. Why isn’t the government on the side of marriage?”

Santorum, who spoke at the invitation of Notre Dame College Republicans, said Republican candidates center their economic messages on three principles: lowering taxes, cutting spending and balancing the budget. These three points of emphasis cater almost exclusively to small business owners, who only comprise 3 to 5 percent of the population, he said.

Instead, Santorum said, Republicans should focus on how economic policies impact workers. He told a story from the 2012 Republican National Convention, where he delivered a speech in the midst of other Republicans who only spoke to small business issues.

“Imagine, now, instead of one after another [Republican politician] coming out, had someone walked out with an employee of a company, and the employee of the company stood up and talked about how important the policies that create opportunity for businesses are to grow for their job, and talk about the standpoint of a worker, and talk about how important policies are to help workers in America,” Santorum said.

“Well that’s what we’re trying to do with this book. I believe in pro-growth policies. I believe that we need to grow the economy. Yes, we need smaller government. Yes, we need to look at our tax code [because] we have the highest corporate taxes in the western world. … We need to do something to keep companies here, to grow companies here [and] create opportunities. But that isn’t enough.”

Santorum said his presidential campaign and his new book sought to create a more inclusive nation in the face of fierce political discord.

“[My campaign] had a message that resonated,” he said. “We had a message that said, ‘We are inclusive, we care about everybody. We don’t just focus on business people or corporations. We want to create an opportunity for everybody, and we know that the problems confronting America are, in part, economic, and here’s something we can do about it.’

“Imagine if we actually included people who didn’t think anybody cared about them. Well that’s the focal point of this book. And the amazing thing about this is it’s not a liberal [or] conservative issue. The policies and the ideas that we put forward actually do something that I think is really important in this country. I think people are tired of division.”

The book, which was “born out of the 2012 campaign,” proposes a way to bridge the American political divide, Santorum said.

“[The political climate] is certainly as ugly as I’ve seen it in my lifetime,” he said. “And people are tired of it. They’re sick of Republicans and Democrats not wanting to get anything done. They’re sick of pointing the finger at each other. There doesn’t seem to be any common ground. But, see, I believe what we’ve laid out here [in the book] is a common ground because it’s common sense.”

Santorum said America “need[s] to recreate a manufacturing juggernaut in the United States” and work to give all citizens an equal opportunity, which is more difficult in the context of the current welfare system and tax structure.

“We’re setting up a system that is harmful to women and children, and we call that benevolence and kindness and all these wonderful words the left likes to use,” he said. “There’s nothing compassionate about this. There’s nothing compassionate about stopping and discouraging people from forming solid bonds for themselves as well as for their children and their community.”

Santorum said the interesting situation in immigration also contributes to political polarization and prohibits greater unification.

“I can understand why corporate America, as they are the chamber of commerce, is all for more legal immigration: cheap labor, higher profits,” he said. “I just don’t happen to look at human beings in America as a commodity. I look at workers as men and women who are trying to provide for themselves, and in some cases their family or their relatives, and try to make a decent living. The government shouldn’t be out there undermining their ability to get a decent wage.

“So here you have, the horrible confluence of people who are looking at [immigration] as political power on the one side and profits on the other side, and the guys in the middle, the average working Americans, get stiffed.”

With his book, and his possible 2016 presidential campaign, Santorum said he aims to change the course of the polarization in the United States and instead unite people.

“What I’m trying to do in this book, what I’m trying to do within the party, is try to rewrite the narrative, and write it in a way that brings people together,” he said. “People who are poor realize that the government programs harm them in many ways. I’m not saying that the money they get harms them, but the incentives are very harmful, the structure is very harmful. So it’s an opportunity for us to reach out and bring people who don’t think we care about them.”

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About Jack Rooney

Jack is a 2016 graduate of Notre Dame, and The Observer's former managing editor. He is currently spending a year living and working for the University in Ireland, and writing columns to keep him busy. For more random thoughts and plenty of news links, follow Jack on Twitter @RooneyReports.

Contact Jack
  • Matt E

    This is the message! This is the winner! It’s a shame he didn’t learn this before the 2012 primary.

  • Ryan Anthony Minato

    This guy is such a joke. His message is a losing message and everybody knows that. The winning message is LIBERTY.