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EDITOR OF REDSTATE

Rick Santorum, Earmarxists, and the Pro-Life Statist

A number of people read my post yesterday about Rick Santorum and still are scratching their heads. In my book RedState Uprising I spent a bit of time dealing with “pro-life statists” who will be the death of the conservative movement if we do not start standing up to them.

Rick Santorum is a pro-life statist. My friend Ned Ryun introduced me to the term and his post on pro-life statists written in the wake of Congressman Mark Souder’s resignation sums up every issue I have with Rick Santorum.

 

“A hard-line conservative, Souder recently survived a tough GOP primary in the Hoosier State, edging two opponents who held him under 50 percent. Souder’s Republican rivals criticized Souder over his support for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and Cash for Clunkers programs.”

I take exception to that description: no real conservative would have voted for TARP or Cash for Clunkers. The mistake made is the assumption that because someone is pro-life means he or she is a conservative. Someone who is pro-life, but votes to expand the state and state spending, is in fact not a conservative, but a pro-life statist.

As someone who is deeply pro-life, and became even more so when my daughter was born four months premature, I absolutely believe in the sanctity of life. But I have a problem with many elected officials who call themselves social conservatives, as though that were all that mattered, and then go and vote for more government and more government spending.

The bigger government becomes, the more invasive it becomes, the more it becomes the enemy of life and freedom. So these pro-life statists show a deep ignorance of government and freedom: the greatest freedom is economic freedom. I say that because if you are an economic ward of the state, you can neither be politically or religiously free. Exhibit A: China. The invasive state dictates how many children you may have, the free flow of information, and political freedom is not even worth really discussing.

I believe one of the reasons that we have gotten to this stage as a country, with the massive growth of government, is because some have thought only one or two social issues are all that matter, and willingly give a pass on pretty much everything else. To those people I would say enough, stop living under an illusion. You must become more comprehensive in your conservatism.

Rick Santorum participated in raiding the federal treasury as an earmarxist, perfectly happy to pork away on Pennsylvania’s behalf. He did not join conservatives who fought against No Child Left Behind. He did not join conservatives who fought against the prescription drug benefit.

Rick Santorum was part of the problem in Washington. He was one of the Republicans the public rejected in 2006. The voters in Pennsylvania rejected him in 2006 because of his and the Republicans’ profligate ways. Along with Tom DeLay, Rick Santorum led the K Street Project, which traded perks for lobbyists for money for the GOP funded with your tax dollars through earmarks and pork projects.

Sure, you can say 2006 was a bad year for Republicans, but in 2006 Rick Santorum fell 18 percentage points behind his Democratic rival and his defeat and terrible campaign can be linked to the loss of four Pennsylvania house seats.

That was not a defeat for Rick Santorum. It was punishment. He is a pro-life statist and I see nothing in his career since leaving Washington that shows he has changed his ways.

Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard coined the term “big government conservatives” in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. He wrote

IS PRESIDENT BUSH really a conservative? When that question came up this summer, the White House went into crisis mode. Bush aides summoned several of Washington’s conservative journalists to a 6:30 a.m. breakfast at the White House to press the case for the president’s adherence to conservative principles. Aides outnumbered journalists. Other conservative writers and broadcasters were invited to luncheon sessions. They heard a similar spiel.

The White House needn’t have bothered. The case for Bush’s conservatism is strong. Sure, some conservatives are upset because he has tolerated a surge in federal spending, downplayed swollen deficits, failed to use his veto, created a vast Department of Homeland Security, and fashioned an alliance of sorts with Teddy Kennedy on education and Medicare. But the real gripe is that Bush isn’t their kind of conventional conservative. Rather, he’s a big government conservative. This isn’t a description he or other prominent conservatives willingly embrace. It makes them sound as if they aren’t conservatives at all. But they are. They simply believe in using what would normally be seen as liberal means—activist government—for conservative ends. And they’re willing to spend more and increase the size of government in the process.

Being a big government conservative doesn’t bring Bush close to being a moderate, much less a liberal. On most issues, his position is standard conservative: a pro-lifer who expects to sign a ban on partial birth abortion, he’s against stem-cell research and gun control, and has drawn the line at gay marriage. His judicial nominees are so uniformly conservative that liberals are furious.

That’s Rick Santorum. He sees government as the means to conservative ends. But in using government to get conservative ends he has expanded government and set precedents for liberals to use government in the same ways for more liberal government. Rick Santorum was complicit in making Americans more dependent on government and justified it under the rubric of compassion.

Before Rick Santorum was purged from Washington for his pro-life statism, the Washington Post summed up his, George Bush’s, and the GOP’s sins in an editorial titled “Big Government Conservatism.”

Back in 1987, when Mr. Reagan applied his veto to what was generally known at the time as the highway and mass transit bill, he was offended by the 152 earmarks for pet projects favored by members of Congress. But on Wednesday Mr. Bush signed a transportation bill containing no fewer than 6,371 earmarks. Each one of these, as Mr. Reagan understood but Mr. Bush apparently doesn’t, amounts to a conscious decision to waste taxpayers’ dollars. One point of an earmark is to direct money to a project that would not receive money as a result of rational judgments based on cost-benefit analyses.

Mr. Bush, who had threatened to veto wasteful spending bills, chose instead to cave in. He did so despite the fact that in addition to a record number of earmarks the transportation bill came with a price tag that he had once called unacceptable. The bill has a declared cost of $286 billion over five years plus a concealed cost of a further $9 billion; Mr. Bush had earlier drawn a line in the sand at $256 billion, then drawn another line at $284 billion. Asked to explain the president’s capitulation, a White House spokesman pleaded that at least this law would be less costly than the 2003 Medicare reform. This is a classic case of defining deviancy down.

This is why I do not support Rick Santorum. I do not want a co-conspirator to government largess premised on the rhetoric of compassionate or big government conservatism being rewarded.

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