Green Room

Rick Santorum, Food Stamps and Big-Government Conservatism

posted at 10:18 am on February 22, 2012 by

Like other candidates for the GOP presidential nomination, Rick Santorum does not have kind words for food stamps:

Santorum told the group [in Le Mars, IA] he would cut the food stamp program, describing it as one of the fastest growing programs in Washington, D.C.

Forty-eight million people are on food stamps in a country with 300-million people, said Santorum.

“If hunger is a problem in America, then why do we have an obesity problem among the people who we say have a hunger program?” Santorum asked.

Indeed, Santorum has described the food stamp program as part of a culture of dependency not unlike Mussolini’s fascist Italy:

One wants to talk about raising taxes on people who have been successful and redistributing money, increasing dependency in this country, promoting more Medicaid and food stamps and all sorts of social welfare programs and passing Obamacare to provide even more government subsidies. More and more dependency, more and more government — exactly what my grandfather left in 1925.

Yesterday, Santorum suggested an approach to such programs not unlike the welfare reform of the 1990s:

We need to take everything from food stamps to Medicaid to housing programs to education training programs, we need to cut them, cap them, freeze them, send them to the states, saying that there has to be a time limit and a work requirement.

However, Santorum’s record on food stamps does not quite match his rhetoric. At Verum Serum, Morgen details how then-Sen. Santorum blocked a 2005 attempt by the Bush Administration to close a loophole that allowed states to confer automatic eligibility for food stamps by simply handing out an informational pamphlet to potential beneficiaries, bypassing the means testing required under normal program rules. The change would have resulted in a reduction in spending of only three tenths of one percent — but a $574 million reduction over five years would have set an important precedent. Santorum, then a member of the Agricultural Committee, not only helped block this reform, but bragged about it. Apparently, magically making people eligible for food stamps by handing them a pamphlet was much less fascist and did not breed dependency just a few short years ago.

As is so often the case in life, timing is important. Folks like the Weekly Standard’s Jeffrey Anderson have contested the claim made by Mitt Romney (among others) that Santorum was a big-spending, big-government conservative in the Senate. Anderson’s case rests on ratings issued by the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) of Santorum’s two-term tenure in the Senate:

Across the 12 years in question, only 6 of the 50 senators [who served the entire period] got A’s in more than half the years. Santorum was one of them. He was also one of only 7 senators who never got less than a B. *** Moreover, while much of the Republican party lost its fiscal footing after George W. Bush took office — although it would be erroneous to say that the Republicans were nearly as profligate as the Democrats — Santorum was the only senator who got A’s in every year of Bush’s first term. None of the other 49 senators could match Santorum’s 4.0 GPA over that span.

Anderson highlights the period of Bush’s first term, ending in 2004-05. However, as the Club For Growth notes in its white paper on Santorum:

An examination of his scores in the NTU rating of Congress shows that Santorum compiled a very strong record on taxes and spending in the first four years of each of his two Senate terms, then a sharp swing to below the Senate Republican average in the Congress before his reelection campaign. In the 2003-2004 session of Congress, Santorum sponsored or cosponsored 51 bills to increase spending, and failed to sponsor or co-sponsor even one spending cut proposal. In his last Congress (2005-2006), he had one of the biggest spending agendas of any Republican — sponsoring more spending increases than Republicans Lisa Murkowski, Lincoln Chafee and Thad Cochran or Democrats Herb Kohl, Evan Bayh and Ron Wyden.

It was during this latter period that Santorum championed creeping food stamp fascism.

Granted, this is not as sexy a story as Santorum’s 2008 claim that America is under attack by Satan. However, Santorum probably really believes that America is under attack by Satan. Would that we could say the same about his food stamp rhetoric.

Recently in the Green Room:

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Okay. And Mitt and Newt won’t say just anything to get elected? Wha…?

/Nonplussed

gryphon202 on February 22, 2012 at 11:59 AM

gryphon202,

Mitt and Newt have similar gaps between rhetoric and reality. But Rick is being sold as the “conviction candidate,” isn’t he?

Karl on February 22, 2012 at 12:58 PM

*sigh* Ya’ll pick the nominee…I don’t like any of them. Wake me up in November and I’ll vote for the one that made it.

ABO in 2012.

sage0925 on February 22, 2012 at 1:56 PM

It was during this latter period that Santorum championed creeping food stamp fascism.

well-done.

Buy Danish on February 22, 2012 at 2:49 PM

Santorum has some absurdist views and a strange voting record, as has been demonstrated repeatedly. I get that people don’t like Romney–I certainly don’t–but how can this be the alternative?

ctwelve on February 22, 2012 at 3:47 PM

This post has been promoted to HotAir.com.

Comments have been closed on this post but the discussion continues here.

Allahpundit on February 22, 2012 at 10:12 PM

Sometimes I think the Green Roomers are a collection of people who want to out-Allah Pundit AllahPundit.

Hellbent on being the most anti-social con writer on here.

Dr. Tesla on February 22, 2012 at 7:57 PM