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Santorum — An Ally of the Rich, Not the Poor (my opinion piece in TurnstyleNews)

23 Jan

About two weeks ago, I wrote an opinion piece for turnstylenews.com, which is a great website powered by young (18-34) producers, reporters, and writers. I re-posted it on my blog here.

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Despite his reputation, in some quarters, as a friend of the downtrodden, former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and current presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, is an ally of Wall Street and Corporate America.

Last week, Santorum made a racially charged comment that garnered a lot of criticism. Speaking to Republicans in Iowa, Santorum said his administration would cut welfare programs because they make people “dependent” on the government for help. His full statement was: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn their money and provide for themselves and their families. The best way to do that is to get the manufacturing sector of the economy rolling.”

This statement was fallacious and offensive. One, it relied on the false assumption that most or all welfare recipients are black. This is not the case. Most welfare recipients are white, mainly because whites make up the majority of the American population. Two, it perpetuates the racist stereotype that black people are lazy people who look for hand-outs.

And the last sentence of Santorum’s statement, advocating revitalization of the manufacturing sector, highlights how Santorum is trying to portray himself in the Republican primary. In a time of economic depression, massive unemployment, and poverty, Santorum is touting himself as a man who can jumpstart the American economy. He claims he can do this with massive tax cuts, particularly for the rich and corporations, cutting government spending (except the military), and eliminating various government regulations. In his eyes, these policies will make it easier for businesses to create jobs in America.

However, these are bad policies. Tax cuts for the richspending cuts, and less government regulations spur very little job growth and only help the rich. Since government creates jobs in the public sector, such as teachers in education, tax cuts and spending cuts would harm job growth, particularly during a recession. In fact, public sector job cuts have already hit African-Americans the hardest; Santorum’s policies would exacerbate that. The best ways to spur job growth are through increasing consumer demand and creating job programs, which Santorum would not do.

Santorum, and others, have sought to frame his legislative record as one that’s been concerned with the issues of underprivileged people, citing things such as homeowner tax credits and savings accounts for poor children. In addition, Santorum cites his strong advocacy for stable families as the core of his welfare policies.

In fact, however, Santorum has long history of supporting legislation that benefits powerful corporate and financial interests and hurt poor and working people. For example, he helped draft the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, which nearly gutted welfare for low-income families. He voted in favor of the 2005 bankruptcy reform bill that made it harder for people to declare bankruptcy. This helped credit card companies but harmed ordinary people. In 1999, Santorum voted in favor of Financial Services Modernization Act, which repealed the Glass-Steagall rule separating commercial banks from investment banks. This laid the groundwork for the 2008 financial crash and present economic depression by creating banks that are “too big to fail”. In addition, most of Santorum’s campaign funding comes from the financial, insurance, and real estate sectors. His top contributor is the health insurance company Blue Shield.

No matter how much Santorum wants to portray himself as an advocate of the poor, his track record and policy ideas reveal something different. Rick Santorum, like nearly every other politician, is a loyal servant of the very rich.

Originally appeared in turnstylesnews.com on January 9, 2012.

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Posted by on January 23, 2012 in Economy, Race/Racism

 

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