CNN Lou Dobbs Tomight - Transcript
Thursday, August 11, 2005
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DOBBS: Republican Senator Rick Santorum has been promoting his new book and his version of conservatism this summer. The book is called "It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good."
In his book, Santorum compares abortion to slavery, he finds fault with two-income families and couples who lived together before marriage. The book has become a best seller. It is provocative, and Senator Rick Santorum joins us tonight from Pittsburgh.
Senator, good to have you with us.
SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Thank you, Lou. Thanks for having me on.
DOBBS: You've taken some quick and direct fire on basically asking women to return to the care of children. How do you react to that?
SANTORUM: Well, I've actually taken fire for asking parents to parent their children. And it's not -- nothing in the book says that women should get out of the workforce, or, you know, abandon professions. Quite the opposite.
What I say is that society should be more affirming of women and men as roles as mothers and fathers as much as we are affirming of them as U.S. senators or broadcasters. To me, we have sort of gotten away from the important role that mothers and fathers and husbands and wives play in building a stronger society.
DOBBS: I don't think too many people will argue with that perspective. But at the same time, you say both the left and right, the Republicans and Democrats, have failed the family in this country. How so?
SANTORUM: Yes. I make the argument that Republicans, you know, really have not done what they need to do in putting public policy in place to be more nurturing, particularly of families who are on the margins of society.
We've seen a tremendous breakdown of the family among the poor. Upwards of 75 to 80 percent of children in poor neighborhoods are born out of wedlock. And we candidly for many years didn't provide an alternative vision of how we're going to remedy that situation and rebuild the nuclear family among the poor.
And I make the argument on the other side that the left, while they've cared about it, liberals have certainly shown their concern to help the poor, a lot of the policies that they put forward actually did more to destroy the family than almost anything else out there. And a lot of the great society programs are very destructive of the nuclear family.
DOBBS: Well, you wouldn't, for example, say that aid to families with dependent children and Social Security had failed. Those are two of the most successful welfare programs -- if I can use that word in what is becoming a politically correct wave in this country -- those have been immensely successful programs.
SANTORUM: Well, certainly Social Security has been, but I would take issue with Aid to Families with Dependent Children. In fact, I make the argument in the book and I -- that the way that Aid to Families with Dependent Children was handed out, really was anti- family. If you were a single mom and you were at a certain income level, you received aid from the state. If you were that -- a married couple with the same income level, you didn't get help from the state under AFDC. It really did focus on helping single mothers at the expense of trying to do something to nurture and help keep families together and that, to me, is not a pro-family policy.
DOBBS: Perhaps not pro-family and could be amended further and improved, but again, without that -- those two particular programs, so many millions of Americans would be without support in this country. I think you would agree.
SANTORUM: No question about that, Lou. And in fact, in 1996, I was one of the authors of the welfare reform bill, which changed aid to families with dependent children to what's called TANF, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. And the idea was families and try to focus more on trying to rebuild the infrastructure around children and including mothers and fathers.
DOBBS: You know, I was struck by -- because you talk about no- fault freedom in the context of liberals in this country. I was also struck by the fact there is sort of a no-fault freedom that is, frankly, swamping both parties.
DOBBS: And the idea that there is a lack of responsibility in certain philosophies...
SANTORUM: Yes. Absolutely.
DOBBS: the Libertarian philosophy that has taken hold of both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, which basically says, you know, "I should have unfettered freedom from government intrusion. Government should be small and has no responsibility to care for those who cannot care for themselves." That's sort of a sad corrosion of two parties with important values that are traditional and historic, don't you think?
SANTORUM: Absolutely and that's why I wrote the book, because you know, I have a real concern about conservatism, you know, and the direction that it's heading. And in fact, the subtitle of the book, "It Takes a Family, Conservatism and the Common Good," the idea that we have a responsibility beyond ourselves, that freedom is not a freedom from any kind of government interaction or responsibility to society, it's a freedom for doing what is best, not just for you, but for your community, your family and your country.
And so it's -- it is, where, I think you mentioned, where the far right or the Libertarian right or many in the Libertarian right, and the left, sort of come together in this idea of radical individualism and self-centered freedom, which I think is very destructive to the community of America.
DOBBS: Senator, we're out of time, but I was thinking that one aspect of your book that deserves some attention, too and that is, the policies that have been pursued in this country that means that so many of our families must be two-income families just in order to survive. That's an issue of trade policy, economic policy on the part of both policies.
SANTORUM: And tax policy.
DOBBS: And hopefully you will be able to influence that outcome.
SANTORUM: Thank you.
DOBBS: Are you running for president?
SANTORUM: No. I have no intention to run. I'm running for reelection of the U.S. Senate in 2006.
DOBBS: Senator Santorum, thank you very much. The book is, "It Takes a Family."
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