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Santorum: Who is fighting for working families?

Rick Santorum -- Prezography 2By Rick Santorum
Former U.S. Senator
Republican Presidential Candidate

 

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) penned the following op-ed for an Iowa newspaper, which was published Thursday. At the 2012 Iowa Caucus winner’s campaign’s request, the full text follows.

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At the 2012 Republican National Convention I spoke about the hands I shook during our improbable run for president that year, a journey that took us to 11 primary election victories.

These were the hands of hard-working men and women who do not believe either political party is fighting for them. Hands that sacrificed their all in defense of the freedoms we enjoy every day. And hands with special needs who are discounted by a society that measures value in sheer output rather than intrinsic worth.

My speech was a stark contrast to my party’s focus that evening on entrepreneurs. Despite compelling stories from employers of all races and creeds, no employees joined their boss on stage, stood side-by-side with them, and explained that America works best when we all work together.

Today, nearly 75 percent of Americans don’t hold a college degree and about 90 percent don’t own their own business. Who is fighting for them?

Democrats offer government-sponsored handouts that are at best Band-Aids and at worst a trap that are hard to escape. The grip of the hands I shook are as strong as ever. They don’t want handouts, they want a fair shake.

At the same time, Republicans are quick to quote the adage that a rising tide lifts all boats. But there are millions of Americans with holes in their boats. These hardworking families have to bail water faster to avoid sinking deeper. Yet Republicans have provided no plans and no hope. I say “no longer.”

I grew up on the grounds of the Veterans Administration facility where my parents worked. My friends’ families worked in the steel mills that surround Pittsburgh. These were the jobs that not only built strong homes, but built America. If we are to once again help those who are struggling to stay afloat, we must rejuvenate these communities.

I believe we need to start by revitalizing manufacturing in America. We must understand that manufacturers are different than most businesses. Retailers like Wal-Mart compete with Target. But American manufacturers compete in a global marketplace and treating them the same as any other business ignores economic realities.

We must reform a tax code and regulatory system that puts American manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage to the rest of the world by flattening the tax code, eliminating costly regulations, and reforming our immigration system that is allowing too many illegal and unskilled legal immigrants to compete for jobs American workers can hold.

At the same time, we must strengthen our nation’s first economy – the family. Families are small businesses unto themselves: They have revenues, expenditures, and their books must balance. But today, families are struggling to make ends meet in the face of a government, a culture, and a society that has stacked the deck against them. If the American family fails, so will America.

But all of this is moot if we are not safe and secure. Each night families turn on the television and see ISIS on the rampage and Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon. And what are we doing about it?

First, we must be willing to define our enemy as Radical Islam, not be afraid to offend when it prevents us from effectively confronting regimes that are motivated by faith to destroy us because of who we are, not what we do.

In Iran, a line must be drawn and, if it is crossed, there must be consequences. Ten years ago I authored sanctions against Iran with opposition from then-Sen. Hillary Clinton. Now is the time to strengthen these sanctions, not lift them.

To effectively project power to keep us safe, we need to increase funding to adequately train and equip our men and women in uniform. A strong America is a safe America.