An Interview with Former Senator Rick Santorum

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is a Republican candidate for president.  He served as a member in the House of Representatives from 1991-1995 when he became a senator, serving from 1995 to 2007.  After losing his reelection bid, he joined the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think-tank.  He decided to run in the 2012 presidential race to give conservatives a voice and stated he "will not only stand up for our views, but can articulate a conservative vision of our country's future."  American Thinker was able to interview Mr. Santorum on a number of issues ranging from foreign policy to national health insurance to gay rights in the military.  What became evident from the outset was his forthrightness and honesty.

American Thinker: As president, what would you do to bring down the unemployment rate?

Santorum: We should pass a tax plan that reduces the burden on the folks who are creating jobs in this country.  I would cut the corporate tax in half and eliminate all the credits and deductions to have a flat tax.  For the manufacturing and processing sector, I would eliminate the corporate tax.  On top of that, I pledge to repeal all regulations that Obama has put in place that cost over $100 million and replace them with something that is reasonable.  As Ronald Reagan said, the government should not be on business' back, but should be working by its side.

AT: How would you bring the corporations back to America?

Santorum: They have not brought the money back because of the high corporate tax and the cost.  I authored a bill in 2004, about the repatriation of funds, that maximized tax at 5%.  This would allow the manufacturing sector to once again be the engine that drives America.

AT: America has lost jobs to outsourcing and technology.  How would you deal with those job losses?

Santorum: One the reasons manufacturing jobs have gone down is the tremendous innovation in the workplace.  Since the days of the large factory are gone, we are now talking about small business and additions to existing plants to create a competitive edge.  We need to create an atmosphere where innovation can successfully create jobs by changing the regulatory and litigation environment.  This hostile attitude has to change, especially since other countries are friendlier to innovators.  Boeing is a very good example since they are trying to bring high-tech manufacturing jobs to South Carolina; yet this president is saying no because South Carolina is not using unionized workers.  If we are going to have that kind of heavy government on behalf of organized labor, they will play hardball, and we will lose those jobs.  They will go overseas where it is easier.

AT: Obamacare must be repealed, but don't you think there are some health care issues that the federal government should implement?

Santorum: Obamacare is just an anchor around growth with the business community.  I have no problem providing federal assistance regarding parents keeping their children on longer and allowing you to buy insurance across state lines.  This is a commonsense type of issue that government can get involved in. 

AT: How would you deal with pre-existing conditions?

Santorum: We should not allow pre-existing conditions to be an impediment for anybody that has insurance in America.  Since I have left my firm, I have to buy my own insurance.  They can't deny me coverage, but what they can do is charge me a fortune, especially a family like mine that has a young child with a pre-existing condition.  For families that can't afford it, this is an area where state insurance makes a lot of sense.  Those that use more insurance should pay more, but it should be capped.  You can't have a blanket rule that treats everybody the same.  Obamacare does treat everybody the same.  A health insurance company should be able to underwrite their policies.  They should do what a life insurance plan does.

AT: How do you feel about the states' immigration laws?

Santorum: The president is not doing everything he can to secure our borders.  These states have put laws in place.  Arizona and other states have taken a rational approach to people violating the law.  Typical of this president, who believes everything should be run out of Washington, D.C. and the states should have very little authority.  This is not the view of the Constitution.

AT: Do you think illegal immigrants should be allowed to attend American colleges?

Santorum: This is not a federal government decision.  There should be no provision in federal law to dictate to a private or state institution whom to admit.  However, illegal immigrants should not be eligible for student loans or any type of federal assistance.

AT: What should be done to secure our southwestern border?

Santorum: I sponsored and introduced legislation about border security when I was in the U.S. Senate.  The bill called for 1,000 miles of new fence.  Wherever you can build a fence, you should build it was the general thrust of the bill.  Although fencing is a key component, it also talks about other components of security such as personnel, technology, and drones.

AT: Don't you think the violence in Mexico is a threat to our national security?

Santorum: I would not be against having the military on the border for a short-term measure until we have trained and equipped the border patrol to be able to do their job.  We should also allow them rules of engagement where they can be successful, because the drug cartels are certainly a security threat to our country and should be treated as such.  We should use intelligence gathered at the border as well as inside Mexico in cooperation with the Mexican government.

AT: You said in the last debate that you would reinstate don't ask, don't tell, but do you really think its fair to have someone discharged for his or her sexual orientation regarding his or her private life?

Santorum: I hear what you are saying.  I have not thought about this consequence.  Right now I am not ready to give you an answer.  Whatever I decide would be to maintain the excellence in our military.  Sexual orientation should not be a factor and should not undermine this volunteer force.

AT: Concerning the issue of marriage, shouldn't it be left to the states, especially since you have said you are "a states' rights person"?

Santorum: Up until a few years ago, the basic covenant with all states was that marriage is between a man and a woman.  That to me is essential.  There are some areas where there should be uniform definitions.  Marriage today is not strong in America.  I understand when the gay and lesbian community says marriage is different today because of the divorce culture.  I agree that marriage today is under strain right now, but the last thing we need to do is have another assault on it.  I am not a bigot, but I just have a set of moral principles.

AT: How do you feel about civil unions?

Santorum: If people want to live their lives together and commit to each other, that is fine with me.  I am all for people being able to contract for insurance, for people to have survivorship benefits, and for people having hospital visitation rights. 

AT: Do you agree with President Obama's rhetoric and policies toward Israel?

Santorum: No.  I would make it very clear that Israel is our strongest ally in that region.  My feeling is that the U.S. should support Israel in the negotiations.  I am for any solution that our ally Israel feels comfortable in negotiating.  My administration would stand with them and support them.  There should be consequences for that other entity going around Israel (Palestinians requesting statehood at the U.N.) and creating a complete controversy.

AT: As president, would you recognize that Israel has annexed Jerusalem and make sure it remains united under Israeli control?

Santorum: I find it very interesting since there is a similar situation in Iraq with the Kurdish people.  Are we sitting there dictating terms to the Iraqi government?  No, we are not.  What we are saying is that the Kurdish territory is in the sovereign border of Iraq.  Similarly, we should make it very clear that we stand on the sovereign side of the State of Israel and recognize the capital of Israel as Jerusalem.  However, after the negotiating process, there may be parts of East Jerusalem that end up in a separate state or gray area.

AT: Do you see Iran as a threat to our and Israel's security?

Santorum: Iran is an existential threat to Israel.  Unlike President Obama, we should make it very clear and do whatever is necessary to make sure they do not get a nuclear weapon.  We need to make sure that does not happen by working overtly and covertly.  As far as the military option, it would not be my first resort, and I would consider a lot of other things we could do.  I authored and pushed forward a bill that was passed in October 2006, the Iran Freedom Support Act.  I actually have experience in this area.  After leaving Congress, I worked for a think-tank where I wrote and lectured on this area.  I talked a lot about the "rising storm," which is the shared interests of the radical Islamists and the socialists of Central and South America.  This poses a threat to the United States.

AT: Speaking of threats to the U.S., do you think Pakistan can no longer be considered an ally since it seems to have turned to the "dark side"?

Santorum: I consider Pakistan an ally.  In the past, they were someone we were able to work with.  I would agree that the dynamics now of those in power are certainly more hostile.  Although we have had a rough road with Pakistan, we need to maintain that alliance and be supportive of the forces of moderation within that country.  This does not mean to ignore their actions.  I am always trying to keep up and understand the dynamics there.  Hopefully, the Pakistanis would see me as someone who worked with them, and we could build up that relationship again.

AT: Why should we maintain relations with a country who does not have "our back"?

Santorum: Pakistan is still a democracy, and is a very complex country.  We are friendly with the military and need them to maintain control of the WMDs.  I don't think we have any choice but to continue to engage the Pakistanis.  We must continue to work toward a relationship that enhances the stability and security in the region.  We would not want to see a radical Islamist regime in control of the Pakistani nuclear program.

AT: Thank you for your time and insight.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is a Republican candidate for president.  He served as a member in the House of Representatives from 1991-1995 when he became a senator, serving from 1995 to 2007.  After losing his reelection bid, he joined the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think-tank.  He decided to run in the 2012 presidential race to give conservatives a voice and stated he "will not only stand up for our views, but can articulate a conservative vision of our country's future."  American Thinker was able to interview Mr. Santorum on a number of issues ranging from foreign policy to national health insurance to gay rights in the military.  What became evident from the outset was his forthrightness and honesty.

American Thinker: As president, what would you do to bring down the unemployment rate?

Santorum: We should pass a tax plan that reduces the burden on the folks who are creating jobs in this country.  I would cut the corporate tax in half and eliminate all the credits and deductions to have a flat tax.  For the manufacturing and processing sector, I would eliminate the corporate tax.  On top of that, I pledge to repeal all regulations that Obama has put in place that cost over $100 million and replace them with something that is reasonable.  As Ronald Reagan said, the government should not be on business' back, but should be working by its side.

AT: How would you bring the corporations back to America?

Santorum: They have not brought the money back because of the high corporate tax and the cost.  I authored a bill in 2004, about the repatriation of funds, that maximized tax at 5%.  This would allow the manufacturing sector to once again be the engine that drives America.

AT: America has lost jobs to outsourcing and technology.  How would you deal with those job losses?

Santorum: One the reasons manufacturing jobs have gone down is the tremendous innovation in the workplace.  Since the days of the large factory are gone, we are now talking about small business and additions to existing plants to create a competitive edge.  We need to create an atmosphere where innovation can successfully create jobs by changing the regulatory and litigation environment.  This hostile attitude has to change, especially since other countries are friendlier to innovators.  Boeing is a very good example since they are trying to bring high-tech manufacturing jobs to South Carolina; yet this president is saying no because South Carolina is not using unionized workers.  If we are going to have that kind of heavy government on behalf of organized labor, they will play hardball, and we will lose those jobs.  They will go overseas where it is easier.

AT: Obamacare must be repealed, but don't you think there are some health care issues that the federal government should implement?

Santorum: Obamacare is just an anchor around growth with the business community.  I have no problem providing federal assistance regarding parents keeping their children on longer and allowing you to buy insurance across state lines.  This is a commonsense type of issue that government can get involved in. 

AT: How would you deal with pre-existing conditions?

Santorum: We should not allow pre-existing conditions to be an impediment for anybody that has insurance in America.  Since I have left my firm, I have to buy my own insurance.  They can't deny me coverage, but what they can do is charge me a fortune, especially a family like mine that has a young child with a pre-existing condition.  For families that can't afford it, this is an area where state insurance makes a lot of sense.  Those that use more insurance should pay more, but it should be capped.  You can't have a blanket rule that treats everybody the same.  Obamacare does treat everybody the same.  A health insurance company should be able to underwrite their policies.  They should do what a life insurance plan does.

AT: How do you feel about the states' immigration laws?

Santorum: The president is not doing everything he can to secure our borders.  These states have put laws in place.  Arizona and other states have taken a rational approach to people violating the law.  Typical of this president, who believes everything should be run out of Washington, D.C. and the states should have very little authority.  This is not the view of the Constitution.

AT: Do you think illegal immigrants should be allowed to attend American colleges?

Santorum: This is not a federal government decision.  There should be no provision in federal law to dictate to a private or state institution whom to admit.  However, illegal immigrants should not be eligible for student loans or any type of federal assistance.

AT: What should be done to secure our southwestern border?

Santorum: I sponsored and introduced legislation about border security when I was in the U.S. Senate.  The bill called for 1,000 miles of new fence.  Wherever you can build a fence, you should build it was the general thrust of the bill.  Although fencing is a key component, it also talks about other components of security such as personnel, technology, and drones.

AT: Don't you think the violence in Mexico is a threat to our national security?

Santorum: I would not be against having the military on the border for a short-term measure until we have trained and equipped the border patrol to be able to do their job.  We should also allow them rules of engagement where they can be successful, because the drug cartels are certainly a security threat to our country and should be treated as such.  We should use intelligence gathered at the border as well as inside Mexico in cooperation with the Mexican government.

AT: You said in the last debate that you would reinstate don't ask, don't tell, but do you really think its fair to have someone discharged for his or her sexual orientation regarding his or her private life?

Santorum: I hear what you are saying.  I have not thought about this consequence.  Right now I am not ready to give you an answer.  Whatever I decide would be to maintain the excellence in our military.  Sexual orientation should not be a factor and should not undermine this volunteer force.

AT: Concerning the issue of marriage, shouldn't it be left to the states, especially since you have said you are "a states' rights person"?

Santorum: Up until a few years ago, the basic covenant with all states was that marriage is between a man and a woman.  That to me is essential.  There are some areas where there should be uniform definitions.  Marriage today is not strong in America.  I understand when the gay and lesbian community says marriage is different today because of the divorce culture.  I agree that marriage today is under strain right now, but the last thing we need to do is have another assault on it.  I am not a bigot, but I just have a set of moral principles.

AT: How do you feel about civil unions?

Santorum: If people want to live their lives together and commit to each other, that is fine with me.  I am all for people being able to contract for insurance, for people to have survivorship benefits, and for people having hospital visitation rights. 

AT: Do you agree with President Obama's rhetoric and policies toward Israel?

Santorum: No.  I would make it very clear that Israel is our strongest ally in that region.  My feeling is that the U.S. should support Israel in the negotiations.  I am for any solution that our ally Israel feels comfortable in negotiating.  My administration would stand with them and support them.  There should be consequences for that other entity going around Israel (Palestinians requesting statehood at the U.N.) and creating a complete controversy.

AT: As president, would you recognize that Israel has annexed Jerusalem and make sure it remains united under Israeli control?

Santorum: I find it very interesting since there is a similar situation in Iraq with the Kurdish people.  Are we sitting there dictating terms to the Iraqi government?  No, we are not.  What we are saying is that the Kurdish territory is in the sovereign border of Iraq.  Similarly, we should make it very clear that we stand on the sovereign side of the State of Israel and recognize the capital of Israel as Jerusalem.  However, after the negotiating process, there may be parts of East Jerusalem that end up in a separate state or gray area.

AT: Do you see Iran as a threat to our and Israel's security?

Santorum: Iran is an existential threat to Israel.  Unlike President Obama, we should make it very clear and do whatever is necessary to make sure they do not get a nuclear weapon.  We need to make sure that does not happen by working overtly and covertly.  As far as the military option, it would not be my first resort, and I would consider a lot of other things we could do.  I authored and pushed forward a bill that was passed in October 2006, the Iran Freedom Support Act.  I actually have experience in this area.  After leaving Congress, I worked for a think-tank where I wrote and lectured on this area.  I talked a lot about the "rising storm," which is the shared interests of the radical Islamists and the socialists of Central and South America.  This poses a threat to the United States.

AT: Speaking of threats to the U.S., do you think Pakistan can no longer be considered an ally since it seems to have turned to the "dark side"?

Santorum: I consider Pakistan an ally.  In the past, they were someone we were able to work with.  I would agree that the dynamics now of those in power are certainly more hostile.  Although we have had a rough road with Pakistan, we need to maintain that alliance and be supportive of the forces of moderation within that country.  This does not mean to ignore their actions.  I am always trying to keep up and understand the dynamics there.  Hopefully, the Pakistanis would see me as someone who worked with them, and we could build up that relationship again.

AT: Why should we maintain relations with a country who does not have "our back"?

Santorum: Pakistan is still a democracy, and is a very complex country.  We are friendly with the military and need them to maintain control of the WMDs.  I don't think we have any choice but to continue to engage the Pakistanis.  We must continue to work toward a relationship that enhances the stability and security in the region.  We would not want to see a radical Islamist regime in control of the Pakistani nuclear program.

AT: Thank you for your time and insight.

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