GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s unexpected finish in Iowa has thrust his record into the spotlight. Naturally, his anti-choice, homophobic, and patently outrageous positions only help shore up his right-wing credentials. As he said in Sioux City, “A track record is a pretty good indication of what you’re going to do in the future.”
However, some of his votes in the past will certainly put a dent in his conservative credentials. As Bloomberg News points out, Santorum spent a lot of his 16-year congressional career fighting alongside labor advocates to protect striking workers, increase the minimum wage, and ensure that the law requiring employers to pay the prevailing wage stayed on the books:
In 1993, Santorum was one of 17 House Republicans who sided with most Democrats in backing a Clinton administration bill to protect striking employees from being permanently replaced by their employers.
Santorum’s Senate service shows a clear track record of supporting the Davis-Bacon Act, the federal law that requires government contractors to pay workers the local prevailing wage (USMMMNCH) and a perennial target for elimination by the business community and anti-union Tea Party activists.
In 1996, Santorum voted in effect for an amendment by former Massachusetts Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy that said the 1931 law shouldn’t be repealed.
In 1999, the Senate accepted a Santorum amendment that said it should consider “reform” of Davis-Bacon rather than repeal. Later that year, Santorum was one of 15 Senate Republicans who sided with Democrats in rejecting an amendment that would have limited the application of Davis-Bacon in federal disaster areas.
Of course, Santorum’s fight for the middle class and low-income Americans may merely reflect that he first ran in “a democratic-leaning, working class congressional district” in Pennsylvania. But in seeking national office, Santorum is throwing those same people under the bus. Now, he compares programs that help America’s workers — the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, or food stamps — to fascism, even going so far as to say, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better” with taxpayer funds. He also advocated for the elimination of all public sector unions.
Santorum’s convenient rejection of his previous efforts may not be enough to maintain the right-wing veneer he is aggressively pursuing. After all, if he is to be believed, his track record is a good indication of what he’ll do in the future.