Politics

Rick Santorum: I Would ‘Absolutely’ Let The Country Default Over Defunding The Health Care Law

As the U.S. steps closer to the economic ledge, a litany of Republican lawmakers are holding the debt ceiling hostage over unpopular priorities like lowering the corporate tax rate or cutting entitlement programs. Likely GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum made his own ransom demand today on Fox News Sunday, telling host Chris Wallace that defunding the health care law is “the price” he demands for the debt ceiling and that he’d “absolutely” let the country go into default over it:

SANTORUM: [The health care law] is a program that if the president wants to defend, he should stand up and say the 2012 election is about Obamacare. We’ll put this on hold, and make it a referendum on Obamacare.

WALLACE: Well ok that’s 2012, but you’re saying you’d let the country go into default on this issue.

SANTORUM: No I think the president would let this country go into default on this issue.

WALLACE: But you would make that the condition — you’d make that the price?

SANTORUM: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Watch it:

Santorum’s ransom demand would force a choice between two evils. Failure to raise the debt ceiling would force Congress to make devestating cuts that would eviscerate basic government services (including national security and social safety net programs), would increase unemployment and retard economic growth, and would erode confidence in the U.S. Treasury bonds creating widespread panic in global financial markets.

But if Congress pays Santorum’s “price,” it would not only jeopardize popular provisions such as insurance pools for people with pre-existing conditions but “cripple existing Medicare programs” by preventing the government from making payments to cover seniors. What’s more, as the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office noted, defunding health care would actually increase government spending by $5.6 billion by 2021 and, ironically, increase the federal deficit anyway.

But Santorum’s extreme positions didn’t stop there. He also whole-heartedly endorsed House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) Medicare elimination plan. Ironically touting it as the same thing as “Obamacare,” Santorum argued that his plan will lead to more savings over time. When confronted with the fact that seniors would actually pay more for health care over time, Santorum told Wallace that it’s worth it in the “short-term.”