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What does Rick Santorum believe? Where the candidate stands on 10 issues

BY   May 27, 2015 at 4:21 PM EDT  | Updated: Jul 2, 2015 at 1:39 AM
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is expected to announce his run for the White House Wednesday.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is expected to announce his run for the White House Wednesday.

Virginia-born and Pennsylvania-raised, Rick Santorum was a lawyer who defended the World Wrestling Foundation, he’s a former congressman who helped author welfare reform and a father of seven who scored over a million points on Temple Run. He has been on both sides of political contests, most famously upsetting the Republican field and headline writers by winning the Iowa GOP caucus in 2012. The shoe-leather politician visited all 99 Iowa counties and won by 34 votes. (all apparently without caffeine). Here’s where he stands on ten key issues.

Budget: Balance the budget. Cap the size of the federal government.

Santorum wants to add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced budget. He would also cap federal government expenditures at 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product. To achieve that, the former senator wants to freeze pay for non-defense-related federal employees for four years and decrease the federal workforce by 10 percent.

Climate change: Not caused by human activity. Allow more oil and gas drilling.

Santorum believes the earth’s climate is cyclical and changes naturally, not as a result of human activity. On the subject of hydrofracking, the Pennsylvanian has said he opposes significant new regulations on the industry. In favor of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Santorum also supports construction of the Keystone Pipeline.

Education: End Common Core. Keep federal government out of education policy.

Known as a strong advocate for home schooling, the Republican hopeful does not support federal government involvement in education policy and opposed Common Core standards when they were initiated. As a U.S. senator, Santorum voted for the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, which set up a federally-monitored system of education standards. In a 2012 debate, he said the vote was a mistake and went against his personal beliefs.

Immigration: Block the DREAM Act and any pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers. Restrict legal immigration. Increase border security.

Santorum opposes the DREAM Act and President Obama’s waivers for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, as he told CNN in 2012. He is opposed to any pathway to citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. In a 2012 debate, the Pennsylvanian agreed with Mitt Romney’s concept of self-deportation. In addition, Santorum has called for more restrictions on the current legal immigration system, arguing an influx of workers has depressed middle class wages. A supporter of increased border security, in 2011 Santorum said the U.S. should finish building a fence along the border with Mexico.

Obamacare: Repeal it. Set up alternate system with tax credits for low-income Americans and high-risk pools for those with previous illness.

In 2011, Santorum told Fox News that as president, he would repeal all regulations in the Affordable Care Act. His own health care plan would encourage Americans to set up their own health savings accounts using pre-tax savings. Santorum would also boost insurance companies’ reach and competitiveness across state lines. The former senator would give tax credits to some low-income Americans to help buy insurance and would establish high-risk pools for those with history of illness.

Social issues: Pass a Constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. Ban all abortion, except when the life of the mother is in danger.

Santorum has signed a pledge to defend marriage as between one man and one woman and supports an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to set that definition in law. He sharply disagreed with the Supreme Court’s June decision legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states. In 2012, he indicated he also opposes same-sex civil unions. The former senator has stated he personally would not attend a same-sex wedding.

On abortion, Santorum believes life begins at conception and abortions should be banned with the exception of when the life of the mother is in danger.

Social Security: Raise eligibility age for future beneficiaries. Consider cutting cost-of-living increases.

Speaking to a New Hampshire crowd in 2012, Santorum argued that problems ahead for Social Security require immediate cuts to benefits for all and deeper cuts for wealthy Americans. A few weeks later on the 2012 trail, the former senator advocated raising the eligibility age for future retirees. His campaign tells NewsHour that the former Senator now would only consider cutting cost-of-living increases for current recipients. In 2005, Santorum supported President George W. Bush’s push to privatize Social Security. His campaign recently told NewsHour that Santorum no longer supports the type of private accounts Bush proposed.

Taxes and wages: Raise minimum wage. Simplify tax rates.

Santorum’s campaign tells the NewsHour that the presidential hopeful will propose a new overhaul of the tax system in coming weeks. In the meanwhile, on the website for his non-profit organization Patriot Voices, Santorum advocates the complete removal of taxes for U.S.-based manufacturing and a 50 percent cut in the corporate tax rate otherwise. In 2012, he proposed creating a simpler tax code consisting of just two tax brackets, 10 percent and 28 percent. More recently, the 2016 hopeful has proposed increasing the federal minimum wage by 50 cents per year for three years.

Iran and Israel: Ramp up sanctions on Iran. Strengthen alliance with Israel.

The candidate does not support President Obama’s negotiations with Iran, arguing it lets Iran keep enough infrastructure that it could still build a nuclear weapon in the long term. The former member of Congress said he would have signed the letter 47 Republican senators sent to Iran in March warning Tehran against any deal that was not approved by Congress. On Israel, a CNN video shows Santorum supports expanded Israeli settlements and believes the West Bank is Israeli ground, won in the 1967 Six-Day War, comparing it to Texas and territory the U.S. gained in the Mexican-American War.

Islamic State: More air strikes. Deploy 10,000 U.S. ground troops.

At the Conservative Political Action Committee’s convention in February, Santorum called for 10,000 U.S. troops on the ground to combat the Islamic State and for a massive bombing campaign against the group. At the same event, he told Bloomberg TV, the U.S. must increase air strikes, aid to Jordan and that under his plan, American forces would not be an “invasion force”. They would be combat-ready as well as help with training and intelligence.

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