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Santorum's Tax Policy Good for Families, Bad for the Poor Santorum's Tax Policy Good for Families, Bad for the Poor

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ANALYSIS

Santorum's Tax Policy Good for Families, Bad for the Poor

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Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is joined by his wife Karen as he waves to supporters at his Iowa caucus victory party Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, in Johnston, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Forget America’s latest demographic studies showing that people increasingly are delaying marriage and putting off having children.

In Rick Santorum’s world, married couples with a gaggle of children will rule. It’s as if Santorum wants to turn back the clock 40 or so years by using economic policies to encourage Americans (heterosexual Americans, that is) to marry and produce children.

 

Suzy Khimm of The Washington Post calls it “tax policy as social policy," because Santorum would triple the personal exemption for children. It’s one of the ways he has shown off his uniqueness (along with his sweater vests), and it’s a policy that is completely contradictory to the rest of his party, which hates refundable tax credits, such as the earned income tax credit, because it kicks people off the federal tax rolls.

Outside of this piece of social engineering, the ex-senator’s proposed tax policy follows the standard GOP script. It slashes government spending ($5 trillion over five years); hands out tax breaks to corporations; and gives the wealthy, many of whom rely on investments for additional income, a boost by reducing taxes on capital gains and dividends.

Corporate America would benefit perhaps the most with a corporate tax rate of 17.5 percent, compared with the current rate of 35 percent. Manufacturers would pay no taxes. Similarly, Santorum would eliminate taxes on corporate revenues brought back into this country from overseas accounts, provided the companies use the money to invest in plants and other equipment.

 

Who would suffer under this economic vision? Anyone who collects food stamps, signs up for Medicaid, or takes advantage of government-funded job training. Translation: The poor, the working class, and the unemployed.

Approaching the New Hampshire primary, the Tax Policy Center offers a nice chart that compares the various GOP candidates’ tax policies.

Taxes and fiscal policy aren’t exactly a sexy or hot topic on the Republicans' campaign trail now, compared to discussions of religion, the candidates’ families, or their haircuts. But, in a general election that will largely be a referendum on the economy, it’ll be interesting to watch the way that Santorum and other candidates' proposals evolve in opposition to the Democratic script and to President Obama’s presentation of himself as a steward for middle-class families.

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