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Pittsburgh Post Gazette Interview

Q&A with Sen. Rick Santorum on new session in Congress

Here are responses that Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., provided yesterday about a range of issues that he and Congress are grappling with as the new session begins in Washington:

Q: Did House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif., reshape the Social Security debate by suggesting that Congress should consider simultaneously any changes needed for both the Social Security system and the tax code, and that President Bush should broaden the Social Security debate beyond recommending creation of personal accounts for younger workers to encourage a bipartisan solution?

A: "I don't think it's harmful to look at the options. Thomas' basic tenet, I believe, is that it's going to be very difficult to get agreement in four corners of Social Security statute -- and that we have to bring in other things to provide the tools we need to get this accomplished. ... I'm not convinced that the tax code is the right addition to this [debate]. ... I think that's potentially biting off more than anyone could possibly chew. But I do believe looking at the broader picture of retirement security ... is an appropriate thing to discuss within the context of Social Security. And there may be some things we can look at that sort of can cross-pollinate, that can make personal accounts more palatable to the other side."

Q: Is there more of a chance that Congress will pass the 'Marriage Protection Amendment' this session? (The measure died last session. If Congress can pass it and three-fourths of state legislatures eventually ratify it, it would amend the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.) And why is it better to pass the amendment rather than leaving the matter to the states?

A: "We [proponents of the amendment] are certainly going to be stronger. ... This is an issue that is not going to go away. ... You can wait and let the judiciary decide this issue of amending our Constitution, or you do what our Founders intended, which is have the Constitution amended by the people, not the courts. ... Marriage and families are foundational institutions of our society, and you can't have that foundational institution be different things in different states. It's far too disruptive."

Q: Do you have the votes to pass the Child Custody Protection Act? (This act would make it a crime to take a minor child across state lines for an abortion to avoid parental consent laws in her home state.)

A: "Do we have 60 [supporters needed to defeat a Democratic filibuster blocking a vote]? I don't know. But I think we clearly have a majority. ... Government needs to be friendlier to parents. For a long time, government was on the side of families, was on the side of parents; culture was on the side of families, education was on the side of families. ... Now, almost every institution of society is out there promoting values and doing things that most mothers and fathers do not want to see promoted to their children. Government, unfortunately, is one of them. We should be on the side that says we're going to stand on the side of parents."

Q: Do you have any misgivings about your decision to support fellow Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter's bid to become Senate Judiciary Chairman?

A: "I still believe I did the right thing. ... I talk to Arlen all the time. I know how he's going to behave as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. I have a lot of confidence he's going to be fair. ... As long as he does what he said throughout the course of his campaign -- which is to report the president's nominees out and make sure that legislation that's a priority for the [Republican] Conference gets reported to the floor, I'm happy. That doesn't mean he can't put his imprimatur on things, doesn't mean he can't say what he wants to say. As long as the actions are good, I'm fine."

Q: Will the president assist your 2006 re-election campaign?

A: "I'll have him in [to Pennsylvania] to help me raise some [campaign] money, which I think is the best thing he can do for me is help in that regard. I'll run on my record."

By Maeve Reston, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan 26, 2005

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