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Rick Santorum is a Big Government Social Conservative, Mitt Romney is the Only Choice to Fix the Economy

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is now experiencing another surge in the Republican Party. The latest Real Clear Politics median average gives him a 5.8 point lead, but more embarrassingly for fellow GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Santorum is now leading him by an 8.2 point average in Michigan polls, the state where Romney was born and raised and whose father was a two-term governor. The Michigan primary is February 28 and whether Santorum’s lead is legit or just another anti-Romney flavor of the month is yet to be seen.

Did I miss something here? We’re talking about Rick Santorum, right? The same Rick Santorum who was one of the big government, rank-and file Bush Republicans of the 2000s, who voted to raise the debt ceiling five times, and who voted for wasteful spending projects like the "Bridge to Nowhere" and unfunded entitlements like Medicare Part D.

The truth is that Romney offers a far more fiscally conservative record in government than Rick Santorum. If the 2012 election is still about the economy, job creation, federal spending, the debt, and the deficit, Romney should be the Republican candidate. But if conservatives care more about social issues like abortion, gay marriage, and religion, then Santorum will be their candidate.

What happened to the Tea Party’s message by the way? I thought it was purely an economic and constitutional movement. It developed in response to both the Democrats’ big government legislation in 2009-2010 as well as the Republicans’ big spending policies of 2002-2006. The American public became alarmed at how fast government spending levels and the debt were growing, and rallied around a movement that spread across America to send a message to Washington that we can’t keep kicking the can down the road. Long overdue reforms are needed and needed now.

How quickly Tea Party supporters forget who one of those Washington insiders was all those years – Sen. Rick Santorum.

In addition to “Bridge to Nowhere” and Medicare Part D, Santorum also supported the widely unpopular No Child Left Behind Act, nearly $1 billion in earmarks, and requested billions of dollars for pork projects in Pennsylvania.

According to the Club for Growth, “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. Santorum also supported raising congressional pay at least three times, in 2001, 2002, and 2003.”

Now contrast that with Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts, where he cut spending by $1.6 billion and cut $450 million from the state budget which turned a $3 billion deficit into a $700 million surplus and gave the state a credit rating upgrade.

Not to mention Santorum is a career politician, much like President Barack Obama. Santorum spent 16 years in Washington as a congressman and senator, as opposed to Romney, who spent 25 years in the private sector as a venture capitalist and served in public office for only one term.

There’s no doubt Santorum has presented himself as the loud and proud social conservative of the 2012 race, and he’s hoping to ride that image into the Republican nomination. But if that’s what this election turns into, then the game completely changes. Santorum will have a hard time winning over independents and swing voters come November with statements like women who get pregnant from rape “should make the best out of a bad situation,” and that “children whose fathers were locked in prison would be better off than children raised by a lesbian couple.”

The bottom line is that Santorum is a big government social conservative whose fiscal track record is less than stellar. At a time when America is in need of a turnaround specialist to fix the economy, unemployment, and out-of-control levels of spending, Republicans should be looking toward a private sector veteran like Mitt Romney.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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