Rick Santorum's "Guardian of the Poor" Facelift

Friday, December 16, 2005

Rick Santorum's "Guardian of the Poor" Facelift

When do you know that Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) is in the re-election race of his life? When his campaign website posts a brief article with this headline:
Sen. Santorum Goes to Bat For Low-Income Families
The article explains that Santorum "joined together with 14 other Senators to ensure that food stamp cuts that were passed in the House of Representatives did not make it into the final (budget) bill." Of course, another link on Santorum's site trumpets the "tax relief that Rick supported in Congress."

Santorum's site doesn't make it clear that the senator has been a fervent supporter of every tax-cut plan that President Bush has put forth, including the 2003 tax cut. What effect does a tax cut like this have on the middle-class and the poor?

According to a 2003 analysis by the Center for Budget & Policy Priorities:
... while the (Bush) plan contains middle-class tax cuts, they are temporary .... By contrast, the most affluent Americans would receive a lavish new tax cut that is permanent, the elimination of taxes on corporate dividends.

... over time, middle-class families could be net losers. There is no ‘free lunch,’ and these tax cuts ultimately would have to be paid for, either through higher interest rates and slower economic growth caused by swollen deficits or through budget cuts, most likely in programs for the middle class and the poor.
Because Medicaid is the primary source of health care for the poor, it's worth examining Santorum's attitude toward the program in order to determine whether or not he actually "goes to bat" for the poor. In the recent battle over the 2006 fiscal year budget, seven Senate Republicans had the courage to reject cuts of $14 billion in Medicaid, including Pennsylvania's other GOP senator, Arlen Specter. But Santorum voted to move forward with these cuts.

Santorum likes to trumpet his concern for the "unborn," and yet he has no qualms about cutting a program that pays for prenatal care for more than one out of three pregnancies nationwide? Two-thirds of the women insured by Medicaid are in their reproductive years, and, in four states, Medicaid coverage funds a majority of the medical costs related to pregnancies.

But Santorum would still have us believe he is "pro-life."

In the months ahead, Santorum's political advisers will continue to advise him to play up his "kinder, gentler" side -- wherever that is. Democrats need to fight Santorum's political facelift with the facts. They need to make it clear that Rick Santorum may be a lot of things, but he is not Jane Addams.

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