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Rick Santorum on Proposed Supercommittee tax Hikes: “This is ‘Read My Lips’ Again”

Monday, November 14, 2011  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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Rick Santorum was unequivocal in his opposition to the Toomey-Henserling tax hike plan on my show this afternoon, for all the right reasons. The transcript will be posted here later. The other GOP candidates need to be as unequivocal, as forceful and as fast in their opposition to this incredibly bad idea.

Not one Republican who ran for office in 2010 did so on a platform of raising taxes through limits on mortgage interest deductions, charitable deductions and state and local tax deductions. Urging this approach is far worse than terrible economics, though it is that, it is a credibility nightmare for the new GOP majority and its leadership.

HH: Senator, good to have you.

RS: Thanks, Hugh. I’m sorry about that. I’m a minute or two late.

HH: No, that’s okay. Maybe we can keep you an extra segment.

RS: That would be good.

HH: Senator, I want to start by asking you about your friend, Pat Toomey, who is leading the charge, according to an AP story, to raise taxes $300 billion dollars in the Supercommittee by capping the mortgage interest deduction, charitable deductions, state and local tax deduction. A) Is it a good idea? B) Did any Republican run on this?

RS: Well obviously, no Republican ran on it. That’s pretty clear. And you know, I would say that we should stick to our message, and our message is that we do not need to be raising taxes right now, that we should be cutting spending, and that that’s where the problem is. That’s where we’re way out of bounds. We’re 25% of GDP instead of the normal 18-19%. And unless we get that problem under control, then we’re not going to help this budget deficit over the long term, and we’re not going to get this economy growing. And to take money out of people’s pocket via taxes is just simply not the way to go. [# More #]

HH: Is a cap on mortgage interest deduction or charitable deduction, or a state and local income tax deduction a tax hike, Rick Santorum?

RS: It’s not a rate hike, but it certainly is an increase in taxes. And that’s something that we’ve been pretty consistent on, saying that we don’t want to be raising taxes on anybody. And here, you have a situation where you’re looking at the housing market, and putting a cap on the mortgage interest deduction has an impact, will have an impact on housing values at some level….so making the housing situation even more difficult. So I’ve said from the very beginning that that’s not, that we have to say focused, stay disciplined on what we know will help this economy. What we know is that if we reduce the regulatory burden, reduce the tax burden, and get this budget under balance, that the economy will do better.

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HH: But now comes along, Senator Santorum, this tax deal. And I want to quote Jeb Hensarling from the AP story, saying that damage done by $250 billion of new taxes we think would be offset by a system that would help create jobs. And as we’re dealing with debt crisis, we don’t want to make the job crisis even worse. So that’s what’s been put on the table. How wrong-headed is that, and what’s it say to the Republicans who voted for a new majority in 2010, and elected your friend, Pat Toomey and Jeb Hensarling, when no one ran on this?

RS: Well, let’s go back and see the root of the problem here. The root of the problem was a deal they shouldn’t have made on the debt ceiling. And when you put yourself between a rock and a hard place, with offering up, incredibly, in a time of war, offering up the Defense Department as a place for huge budget reductions, and put our national security, I would argue, put our national security in further jeopardy by these ridiculous cuts. So that’s number one. So mistake number one by the Congress…now mistake number two is in, now that you’ve gotten yourself in a bad deal, you feel like you have to do another bad deal to get out of the first bad deal. And that’s what many of us were concerned about with the original deal, was that the Democrats would have us over a bag, and be able to extract something that we know public policy-wise will not help this country, will not get the economy growing, will not reduce the deficit, and will simply be a way for the Democrats to deflate, to take the air out of the tire of the conservative movement.

HH: Will you call Pat Toomey and urge him to abandon this idea, Rick Santorum?

RS: I’d be happy to call Pat. I mean, look, I understand he’s got a tough job, and I know he’s got a lot of pressure. And certainly, the media is saying how Republicans have to compromise, otherwise they’re abandoning the principles of good government. We compromise…we make compromise of doing less of a good thing, not doing some of a bad thing. A good compromise is doing less of something you want to do, as opposed to more of something you don’t want to do.

HH: Well, what I think they don’t get, and maybe I’ve just lived outside of the Beltway too long, is that people will lose faith in anyone every doing what they say they’re going to do, if the Republicans of 2010 go back and raise taxes, no matter what they call it. It’s a tax hike. And Rick Santorum, you’ve always…your yes has always been yes, and your no has been no. What part of this don’t your former colleagues get? They can’t break faith?

RS: Yeah, I mean, this is Read My Lips again. We had George Bush, who said read my lips, no new taxes, and then we passed a tax increase, they passed, I wasn’t around, but they passed a tax increase. I think it was back in 1989. And it was disastrous for us, and obviously, disastrous for President Bush. I think it will be disastrous for members of Congress, because there is an element out there that you’re right, doesn’t believe either side. And when strong conservatives like Jeb Hensarling and Pat Toomey are making the case for this, then it does raise doubts about whether we can hold this strong, conservative majority together into the next election.

HH: You worked for a lot of these freshmen, at getting them elected, Rick Santorum. Do you expect they will stay with the leadership in the House if this deal comes down? Because I think the House coalition will shatter with devastating consequences for 2012.

RS: There will be a solid majority, in my opinion, who will not vote for any kind of tax increase. I mean, they just, you can’t go home after talking about how you’re going to grow this economy, and the way you grow this economy is to reduce taxes, and then be for tax increases. So if it’s a situation where taxes are on the table, and it’s a tax increase, then it’s a net loser for Republicans, and they need to get the net out of there.

HH: But let me, in the last minute, though, that net worries me, because if you cap the mortgage interest deduction, hundreds of thousands, millions of Americans’ taxes will go up. If you cap the charitable deduction, even more, state and local deductions, tens of millions’ taxes will go up. I don’t care if it’s net-net-net zero. Those are tax hikes, Rick Santorum. Agree or disagree?

RS: Well no, they are tax hikes. But look, it’s one of the things that I’ve advocated, for example, is reducing rates and getting rid of some of the complexity of the code. I don’t think those people would say that’s a tax hike. I mean, if it’s a net reduction in revenue, it doesn’t say you can’t change anything in the tax code. If there’s things in the tax code, for example, I’d get rid of all the energy subsidies.

HH: But what about the mortgage interest deduction and the charitable deduction?

RS: For me, I mean, what I do on my bill is I keep five things. I keep charities, housing, children, pensions and health care. Those are the five things I do keep in place, because those are five very important things for our country, and for our economy.

HH: That makes enormous sense. Rick Santorum, thanks as always. Go to www.ricksantorum.com. He’s running for president, and he’s going to get a lot more support after that statement.

End of interview.

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