Rick Santorum: All For Me, Not For Thee Or Charity

(h/t Heather at VideoCafe) When the candidates released their 2010 tax returns earlier this year, two out of four had given substantial sums to charity -- Mitt Romney and President Obama -- with 14.2 percent and 13.8 percent, respectively. The

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(h/t Heather at VideoCafe)

When the candidates released their 2010 tax returns earlier this year, two out of four had given substantial sums to charity -- Mitt Romney and President Obama -- with 14.2 percent and 13.8 percent, respectively. The two candidates who claim to be the most religious lagged far behind. While Newt Gingrich's 2.6 percent didn't especially surprise me, given his love of limos and private jets, Rick Santorum's paltry 1.76 percent was a bit jarring. After all, here's a guy who is such an ideologue on all things religion, and yet doesn't give much to the church he claims sustains him? What's up with that?

During his appearance on Fox News with Chris Wallace, the subject came up, and Mr. Santorum had quite an interesting answer.

WALLACE: One last question on social issues. You say that churches and faith-based organizations have a big role to play in helping the poor, helping people who are disadvantaged.

I want to ask you about the 2010 tax returns because in them, they show that President Obama gave 14 percent of his income to charity. Mitt Romney almost 14 percent. You gave 1.76 percent.

Why so little, sir?

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, we always need to do better. I was in the situation where we have seven children and one disabled child who we take care of and she's very, very expensive. We love her and we cherish the opportunity to take care of her. But she's -- it's an additional expense and we have round the clock care for it and our insurance company doesn't cover it, so I pay for it. And you know, that's one of the things that, you know, you have to balance the needs of your immediate family.

That's a pretty rich answer coming from the guy who thinks insurers should be able to completely exclude children and adults alike for pre-existing conditions. Let's not forget that Mr. Santorum has the very best insurance money can buy courtesy of the United States taxpayers, but it still didn't cover those private nurses and other expenses little Bella needs.

I'm willing to bet that by 2010, Rick Santorum's little girl's medical expenses were coming near the lifetime limits imposed by insurers before the Affordable Care Act did away with them, too. Imagine having a child like that and NOT making millions to cover the costs. Imagine having to rely on charity to take care of that child or disabled loved one and realizing charities don't have the resources to help you either. Imagine that.

Chris Wallace really lost an opportunity to ask Santorum the follow-up question here, which would simply be why on earth he would oppose a law that would help him manage the costs of caring for a child with severe disabilities and by so doing, would also enable him to give more to charity, particularly Catholic charities which do much in the area of health care.

I really do not enjoy attacking public figures on questions of faith, but in this case it seems Santorum has inconsistent views. On the one hand, he condemns prenatal testing because he's sure it "culls the ranks of the disabled." On the other hand, he acknowledges that the cost to care for those disabled children is "very, very expensive." So expensive, in fact, that he cannot afford to give much to charities who might help other parents of similarly disabled children who are struggling for their survival, much less round-the-clock home nurses.

Add this contradiction to his objection to other, less fortunate people having access to affordable health care while HIS coverage is paid for with taxpayer-subsidized dollars, and it seems to add up to a big "I've got mine, so screw you" statement. From a policy standpoint, it makes no sense at all. On a personal level, it exposes the contradictions of a man who claims to be standing for religion, God, and maybe apple pie. To anyone who struggles on a daily basis with balancing the needs of THEIR immediate family against the costs of health care for them, it just looks like hypocrisy.

Put me in the last category. Meanwhile, here is how Mr. Santorum's finances will improve after the full provisions of the Affordable Care Act take hold:

  • Deductibles and Cost Sharing - The other six children and Mrs. Santorum will be covered with limited or no co-payments and deductibles. Anyone who has had to wrestle with the crazy high deductibles in today's health insurance know what it feels like to almost hit that deductible, only to have the insurer raise the bar a little higher. I have my own personal experiences with this, and it's frustrating.
  • No annual or lifetime limits on the cost of care - I would think this might be something Mr. Santorum would applaud rather than sneer at, given the high cost for Bella's care.
  • Expansion of home-centered care - The Affordable Care Act has many provisions to encourage and expand home-centered care for the chronically ill patient, whether an adult or child. States that implement these provisions receive expanded Medicaid dollars. While the Santorum family would not be eligible for Medicaid, they will be eligible for home service expansions provided under insurance contracts because it is acknowledged that home care is a better, more patient-centered, and less expensive way to take care of the disabled.

These are just a few. I'm sure there are many others. But Mr. Santorum should reconsider his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, since he and his family stand to gain so much for that precious child he uses to gain sympathy and credibility on the campaign trail.

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