Magazine article The American Prospect

Man of the People

Magazine article The American Prospect

Man of the People

Article excerpt

READERS OF THE CONGRESSIONAL newspaper The Hill may have stumbled across a confusing headline on March 3: "Santorum shifts left for '06 run." Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum? He of the "man-on-dog" theory of marital law? The Senate's most fearless advocate for destroying Social Security?

Yup. Santorum is facing a sure-to-be-tough re-election fight in 2006 against the popular Democratic state treasurer, Bob Casey Jr. So some image recalibration is in order.

Did you know that fighting poverty was the senator's true passion? You didn't? Well, say hello to the new Rick Santorum, servant of the poor.

The senator tried out his new LBJ vibe at the March 2 unveiling of the Senate Republican Poverty Alleviation Agenda. Speaking in front of a huge "Fighting Poverty" banner, Santorum and three Republican colleagues laid out what he called an "important and proactive agenda to combat poverty" across our nation," which included such guaranteed poverty-busters as reauthorization of the 1996 welfare law, tax deductions for charitable giving (which President Bush had already scrapped from his budget), and the waiving of hiring-discrimination laws for federally supported religious groups. The Works Progress Administration this ain't, though Santorum deserved points for candor when he acknowledged, in his speech, that "we're helping out, let me be honest, a little bit, not a lot."

During the ensuing floor fight over the recent bankruptcy bill, Santorum waxed pocketbook populist with new fervor. …

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