Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Rick Santorum's Conservative Credentials
The attempt to attach a “big-government conservative” label to Rick Santorum for some rare wanderings from the conservative reservation makes about as much sense as arguing that record-breaking Drew Brees of the Saints is a poor quarterback because he threw 14 interceptions this season.
The reality is that Rick Santorum’s instincts and intellectual choices consistently tend toward freedom.
On taxes, for instance, Santorum has always been superb. The Club for Growth’s white paper on Santorum, calling his tax stances “very strong,” confirms that “Santorum has consistently supported broad-based tax cuts and opposed tax increases either by sponsoring key legislation or by casting votes on relevant bills.”
His record on a host of other conservative issues is as solid as that of any politician in the past two decades. He has been firmly and repeatedly against all sorts of regulatory abuse, against McCain-Feingold and other restrictions on political speech, for school choice, for tort reform, for a strong military, and for a balanced-budget amendment.
Obviously he has been as stalwart a defender of social conservatism, for 20 full years, as any other public figure. And as virtually every conservative involved in the judicial wars during Santorum’s time in the Senate has confirmed, in person or in print, Santorum and his staff were the go-to people in the Senate when you needed to find tireless, committed advocates for conservative jurists. Santorum is, wrote Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, “the candidate in whom I have by far the greatest confidence” in terms of how likely he would be “to appoint excellent Supreme Court justices and lower-court judges and to work tenaciously to get them confirmed.”...
More broadly, until Rep. Paul Ryan’s recent prominence, nobody in Congress has been as passionate and fearless an advocate for entitlement reform as Santorum. Medicaid block grants. Investment accounts for Social Security. Medicare payments controlled by the beneficiaries rather than third-party payers. Choice rather than government mandates...
As for overall spending and his much-discussed history of support for “earmarks” (a position also shared by tightwad Ron Paul), conservative groups’ ratings show that Santorum was better than the average Republican, despite representing a state far bluer than those of most of his Republican colleagues...
Of one thing conservatives can be absolutely sure: Unlike politicians who lack the courage of conservative convictions, Rick Santorum will fight for his causes and not be scared off by “establishment” criticism. In four uphill elections and in legislative skirmishes for conservative ends too numerous to count, Santorum has won a decidedly impressive number of his fights.