You Should Know: Five Facts About Rick Santorum

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Today’s five facts on the Republican 2012ers are devoted to Rick Santorum – former senator from Pennsylvania, religious conservative, science agnostic, and economic ideologue.

After serving in both the U.S. House and Senate, Rick Santorum became known for his confrontational style and controversial positions on social issues. But even if you look beyond his dismissal of evolution, hostility toward homosexuality, and tendency to legislate specific religious beliefs, Rick Santorum is still out of the mainstream. He supports ending Medicare as it exists, privatizing Social Security, and allowing the United States to default on our debt obligations. 

But because his platform is one that's been embraced by the Tea Party and extreme right, Rick Santorum could generate the momentum to make waves in the Republican primary.

Here are five things you should know:

1) Rick Santorum praised the Ryan Republican plan to end Medicare as we know it. Politico reported that “Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum may turn out to be Rep. Paul Ryan's strongest advocate in the presidential field,” and said that Santorum “gave the most full-throated defense of Ryan's Medicare plan of any Republican presidential candidate yet.” In a Pennsylvania speech, Santorum said that the Republican Medicare plan would give seniors “the resources to go out and choose what's best for themselves." What’s misleading about Santorum’s statement, however, is that the significant change under the Republican plan isn’t about choice, it’s about cost – and the Republican plan would cost seniors twice as much for the same benefits. (Politico, 6/6/2011)

2) Rick Santorum supports privatizing Social Security. Rick Santorum's support for privatization stretches back for years, a point he made clear in an op-ed as senator: “Personal retirement accounts provide individuals—not the government—with control and ownership. And they hold the promise of a greater return for future generations than what they are promised by today’s Social Security system.” Had Republicans been successful in privatizing Social Security in 2005, seniors’ benefits would be far less secure than they are today. (The Hill, 3/1/2005)

3) Rick Santorum would let the country default on its obligations if health care reform isn't defunded.Rick Santorum said that he would allow the country to default on its obligations as a means of defunding a bill that he opposes. After Fox News anchor Chris Wallace asked if Santorum would “let the country go into default on this issue,” he replied that he would “absolutely” allow the country to default as a condition of not defending health reform. (Fox News, 4/24/2011)

4) Rick Santorum dismissed concerns that the Bush tax cuts would disproportionately benefit the wealthy and add to the deficit – even though both turned out to be true. In 2003 amid the debate over the Bush tax cuts, Rick Santorum rejected criticism that it would mostly benefit the rich and provide little relief to lower- and middle-income families. He also rejected Democratic concerns about the tax cuts’ impact on the deficit,  saying "What we need to do for an economic stimulus package is not look at what the cost is but what the impact will be on the economy" (Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 1/8/03). The reality is that the Bush tax cuts mostly benefited the wealthy, had little impact on economic growth, and exploded the deficit (Washington Post, 8/1/2010).

5) Rick Santorum opposed the auto industry loan package, which helped Detroit’s automakers get back on their feet. Although federal assistance to automakers has proved to be the saving grace for an industry now turning a profit and hiring more workers, Rick Santorum equates that aid with gambling in Las Vegas. ‘If they were in Las Vegas, you could say Obama saw George Bush’s bailouts and raised him a nearly trillion-dollar stimulus, a bailout of the American auto industry and a government takeover of the health care industry.” (Politico, 1/27/2011)

Monday night on CNN, Rick Santorum will join the rest of the 2012 Republican to showcase their visions for America’s future. Because it's been years since he was in office, people don't have a clear picture of who Santorum is or what he stands for — and we need your help to ensure voters know what he believes. 

Share these five facts with your networks on email, Facebook, and Twitter. Make sure on Twitter to use the hashtag #youshouldknow.