Rick Santorum has social conservatives to thank for his strong showing in Iowa, but his ability to win the GOP nomination and defeat President Obama will hang on his economic message. So it’s a good moment to sort the good from the bad in the former Pennsylvania Senator’s current agenda and Congressional record.
The good news is that Mr. Santorum is focused on spurring faster economic growth, which is the prerequisite for income gains for all Americans, especially the poor. It’s a political mistake to focus on income inequality, because Democrats will always outbid Republicans on wealth redistribution. The only way to trump the politics of envy is with the politics of growth.
On that score, Mr. Santorum joins most of the other Republicans who are proposing tax reforms that reduce rates in return for closing loopholes. He proposes a return to the Reagan-era top rate of 28%, and a second rate of 10% for middle-income Americans. He also wants a 12% capital-gains tax, down from 15% today, and half the 23.8% rate that Mr. Obama has promised in 2013.