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Candidate Guide: Where Does Rick Santorum Stand? Candidate Guide: Where Does Rick Santorum Stand?

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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / CAMPAIGN 2012

Candidate Guide: Where Does Rick Santorum Stand?

Sen. Rick Santorum speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition's 2012 Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, on Dec. 7.(Chet Susslin)

January 2, 2012

Santorum Sweeps Mini Tuesday 2/7/12

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is a social conservative and a defense hawk running to be the Republican nominee for president in a race largely defined by the domestic economy. Here is a review of some of his key policy positions.

Abortion

 

Santorum has campaigned for support from social conservatives by emphasizing his opposition to abortion. He supports a blanket ban on abortion without exceptions for rape or incest, he has said in public statements.

“I believe that life begins at conception and that life should be guaranteed under the Constitution,” Santorum said when asked about such exceptions during a June appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press. Santorum also said he would support criminal prosecution of physicians who perform abortions.

During his failed reelection campaign against Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., in 2006, Santorum expressed support for allowing abortions in cases of rape and incest or to protect the life of the mother.

In another Meet the Press appearance Sunday, Santorum explained that he supported compromise positions on abortion in hopes of moving the country toward a fuller ban. “Today I would support laws that would provide for those exceptions; but I’m not for them,” he said.

Gay Marriage

Santorum opposes gay marriage and supports amending the Constitution to impose a federal ban on gay marriages. He has argued passage of such an amendment would invalidate existing gay marriages.

Santorum famously stirred controversy in 2003 with his comments outlining his opposition to the Supreme Court overturning a Texas sodomy law in Lawrence v. Texas. The court later overruled the law.

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything," Santorum told the Associated Press.

"In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be,” he said.

Budget

Santorum has called for a series of broad, nonspecific steps to cut federal spending. On his campaign website, he calls for cutting $5 trillion of federal spending within five years. He also calls for reducing all federal nondefense discretionary spending to 2008 levels through across the board spending cuts. He proposes freezing defense spending at current levels.

Santorum supports passage of a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution capping government spending at 18 percent of gross domestic product. He would extend a pay freeze for nondefense related federal employees for four years; cut the federal workforce by 10 percent; and slash benefits for federal workers, according to his website.

Santorum also call for a series of specific cuts to programs unpopular with conservatives. Among them are cuts for Environmental Protection Agency funding and the elimination of federal funding for Planned Parenthood (he favors directing half of this funding to support adoption instead). Santorum also calls for ending energy subsidies and “most agriculture subsidies” within four years.

Earmarks

Santorum sought earmarks while in Congress, a position other candidates have attacked. On Sunday's Meet the Press, Santorum defended doing so by noting that federal spending has since increased. “When I left Congress, budgets began to explode,” he said.

Earmarks have never accounted for a significant portion of the federal budget, and an increase in federal spending was underway before Santorum left Congress in 2007. Santorum on Sunday continued to defend earmarking, arguing that, “there is a legitimate role for Congress to allocate resources.”

Taxes

Under what he calls the “Santorum solution,” Santorum said he would replace current income tax brackets with two rates: 10 percent and 28 percent.

In addition his plan, summarized from his campaign website, would:

• End the alternative minimum tax and estate tax

• Reduce capital-gains taxes to 12 percent, and triple the personal deduction for each child

• Eliminate a cap on deductions for losses incurred in the sale of a principal residence

• Cut the corporate income tax rate in half, from 35 to 17.5 percent

• Increase a research and development tax credit from 14 to 20 percent

• Eliminate the corporate income tax for manufacturers

• End taxes on repatriated corporate income invested for manufacturing equipment and a corporate tax on other repatriated income invested in the U.S.

Federal Courts

Santorum on his campaign website says if elected he would “call on Congress to abolish the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.” Conservatives view the court as excessively liberal and activist.

Deregulation

Santorum’s campaign website states that as president he would “roll back job killing regulations, restrain our spending by living within our means, and unleash our domestic manufacturing and energy potential.”

Santorum supports repeal of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform bill of 2010. He has attributed the financial crash of 2008 in part to excessive government intervention in markets, specifically the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Santorum has called for eliminating both entities within five years.

Entitlements

Santorum has said he supports a proposal by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to eventually turn Medicare into a voucher-based system where seniors would not receive coverage for healthcare services above the voucher’s value.

Santorum calls for changing the formula for adjusting Social Security benefits, raising the retirement age for younger workers and shifting Medicaid to a block grant system.

Health Care

Santorum opposed Democrats’ 2010 health care overhaul. He says he would “repeal and replace Obamacare with market-based health care innovation.”

Santorum's health care policy, as outlined on his website, includes options touted by many Republicans, such as medical liability reform and allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines. He calls for strengthening “patient-driven health coverage options,” such as health care savings accounts.

Islam

Santorum in March of 2010 told Bates College students that Islam is stuck in the seventh century and that people who try to modernize Islam “get killed.” When pressed on these remarks during a May debate, Santorum insisted he’s not “anti-Islam,” but recognizes the “reality” that the spreading “version of Islam” practiced in the Middle East “is not going to be one that we can deal with very easily.”

Iran

Santorum often cites his eight years on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and legislative efforts related to foreign policy, highlighting especially his aggressive stance on Iran.

On Meet the Press, Santorum said that as president he would OK bombing of suspected Iranian nuclear facilities if Iranian leaders did not agree to dismantle their suspected weapons program or allow international inspectors to review the facilities.

Santorum also said his administration “would be very open” about efforts, even covert ones, to slow or stop Iran’s program. Like most other GOP presidential hopefuls, Santorum argues the Obama administration’s reliance on sanctions to pressure the Iranian regime is inadequate.

In a CNBC blog post this fall, Santorum argued that the U.S. must work with Israel to determine the "proper military response" needed. "If that includes targeted airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities, then I am prepared to authorize that action," he wrote.

“I would work with Israel to eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat immediately and put provisions in place to assist any pro-democracy uprising in Iran,” he wrote.

Syria

Santorum has said he wouldn’t suggest sending U.S. troops into Syria, where Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is cracking down on his own people. Instead, he advocated for working “vehemently and vigilantly with the people in Syria” and going after the strongman “covertly or otherwise.” This, he said, would show the Iranians that “we are going to stand up to them.”

Iraq

Like many other GOP hopefuls who have criticized Obama for pulling out virtually all U.S. troops from Iraq, Santorum said he’s “not for taking [U.S. troops] out of the region.” The administration needs “to listen to our generals—and our generals are being very, very clear that we need to continue to stabilize Iraq,” he said. “The Iraqi government wants and needs our intelligence in particular, needs force protection."

Afghanistan

Santorum has generally criticized Obama’s plan to withdraw surge troops from Afghanistan, objecting to the administration setting limits on time and resources in the war effort.

Pakistan

Santorum said the U.S. has to step up its engagement with Pakistan and pressure the country to identify militants in its lawless border areas. “We have tolerated a lot of bad behavior on the part of Pakistan, particularly in the area of Waziristan, and we have not done what President [George W.] Bush did originally, which said you are either with us or you were against us,” he said in a May debate. The U.S., Santorum said, needs to issue an ultimatum to Islamabad: Side with the U.S., or not receive American aid.

Libya

Santorum has blasted his GOP rivals’ “very isolationist view” of U.S. engagement when it comes to Libya. “We could have been a source for good from the very get-go in Libya, but this president was indecisive and confused from the very beginning,” Santorum said in a June debate. “He only went along with the Libyan mission because the United Nations told him to, which is something that Ronald Reagan would have melted like the Old Wicked Witch of the West before he would have allowed that to happen.”

However, amid division within the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. pushed for a resolution that went even beyond establishing a no-fly zone, introducing a resolution authorizing members to deploy all necessary actions.

China

In one of the noted foreign-policy gaffes in the debates, Santorum told rival Mitt Romney in October he doesn’t want to go to a trade war with China. Instead, he said, “I want to beat China. I want to go to war with China and make America the most attractive place in the world to do business."

Israel

Santorum, like many other GOP contenders, slammed Obama for “turning his back on Israel” and “complaining about settlements in Jerusalem, the capital of the country.” During an appearance on C-SPAN, he called for the U.S. to stand by Israel “especially at a time when it increasingly appears to be standing alone.” Referencing the Arab Spring, Santorum said the “recent dislocation of the old order in the Middle East will usher in a new one and anti-Israel elements are working overtime all across the world to take advantage of this opportunity.”

United Nations

Santorum says he has been a longtime advocate of defunding the United Nations “because evidence shows the organization to be corrupt.”

Defense Cuts

Santorum has criticized Obama for advocating defense cuts over the next decade. In April, Santorum said reductions to the military budget send the “wrong signal, wrong effort at the wrong time,” arguing that “now is not only the time to be increasing our military preparedness but to finish the task of comprehensive missile defense systems. Nothing is more helpful [to negotiations] toward peace, as Ronald Reagan showed, as overwhelming strength and defense.”

 

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