There is a small part of me that wants desperately to like Rick Santorum. This is entirely based on the fact that he will stake out a bold, uncompromising position based on his beliefs and defend it to the hilt rather than running away or backpedalling from the position under opposition pressure. That is a rare attribute in a politician and in the US Republican primaries he is matched or exceeded in this regard only by fellow candidate Ron Paul.
The small part of me that admires Santorum, however, is vastly outweighed by the rest of me, which is aghast at his riffs on the separation of church and state, on women’s healthcare, on contraception, on economic policy and his naive or callously cynical pledge (depending on how you view him) to bring about a manufacturing renaissance in America by tweaking the tax code a bit and drilling for more oil (domestic oil production is, of course, higher now under Obama than it was under Bush):
Furthermore, I am becoming increasingly convinced that Santorum is being given far too much praise for being an “honest politician”, when there is an increasing pile of evidence from his campaign speeches to suggest otherwise. By all means praise him for saying things that ignite his party’s base, and not backing down in the face of liberal objections, that’s one thing. But when you are standing in front of friendly crowds who more or less share your worldview and policy positions, that is not so hard to do.
If he really were honest though, he would avoid saying things like this, as quoted by the Jeffrey Anderson and Bill Kristol in the Weekly Standard today:
“The reason that . . . I ultimately decided to get into this race was . . . one particular issue that to me breaks the camel’s back with respect to liberty in this country—and that is the issue of Obamacare. . . . [A] little less than 50 percent of the people in this country [now] depend on some form of federal payment, some form of government benefit, to help provide for them. After Obamacare, it will not be less than 50 percent. It will be 100 percent. Now every single American will be looking to the federal government, not to their neighbor, not to their church, not . . . to the community . . . [but] to those in charge, to those who now say to you that they are the allocator and creator of rights in America. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the beginning of the end of freedom in America.”
You know what, Rick? You hate ObamaCare, and that’s fine. I mean, you haven’t proposed any detailed alternative solution to deal with the problems of the uninsured, or the rate of healthcare inflation (and as I said before, medical malpractice lawsuit reform and cross-state selling of insurance nibbles at the edges rather than fixing the problem), so let’s just assume that you believe 30 million uninsured to be a price worth paying to preserve the “liberty” that once existed in America, but which disappeared in a puff of smoke once the Affordable Care Act was signed. That’s fine.
But there are two things in the above extract from Santorum’s “victory” speech on Super Tuesday:
1. The fact that he laments that nearly 50% of Americans depend on some form of federal payment or benefit. Now, I am a fiscal conservative and also believe that this number is rather too high and represents an overexpansion of the federal government. However, Santorum says nothing about Medicare, the ‘socialist, government-run healthcare benefit’ that the grey-haired brigade benefit from, which makes up a substantial portion of that 50%. And why? Because they vote. MedicAid recipients, and those on unemployment or food stamps are less likely to vote, so it’s a lot easier to talk about them when you bash the percentage of Americans who rely on some federal handout.
2. “It will be 100 per cent. Now every American will be looking to the federal government, not to their neighbor, not to their church…” Now this one really has me stumped. I would be grateful if Santorum supporters could point me to the exact parts of the Affordable Care Act (and yes, I have the PDF downloaded on my computer) where extending health insurance to an additional 30 million people means that everyone – everyone – is now beholden to the federal government. Unless parts of the bill were written in invisible ink, I saw nothing that says that government is taking over the means of healthcare delivery (hospitals) or health insurance (insurance companies). So say for example that I work in finance and have health insurance through my company, and have done for years. Which part of ObamaCare is going to cause me to spurn my current coverage and go running to nourish myself at the teat of the federal government?
Rick Santorum: There is nothing honest about you when you propogate arguments such as these. Like most other Republicans at the moment, you have decided to go along with the doomsday hyperbole and fear-mongering that has sadly become a feature of the GOP’s position on healthcare reform, rather than engaging and crititicising it on true conservative principles. This has been very effective for your party, and I understand why you have made it the lynchpin of your presidential candidacy. But it does not make you an honest man.