Santorum: “The Greatest Antidote to Poverty in America Is a Stable Family”

At a presidential forum at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Texas, Rick Santorum used data and social science to reveal the real solution to poverty:

GRAHAM: Talk to us about how you believe government should appropriately show compassion towards the outsider, the person who is down, the person who needs help. How do we help them?

SANTORUM: Yeah, the Bible is very clear about the responsibility to help the poor. I mean, it’s mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible. I don’t think I see anywhere in the Bible where it says the government is supposed to do that.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be certain government safety net programs. I don’t think anyone here is saying we should get rid of social security, or unemployment insurance. They’re basic programs that most folks have agreed to accept. But what we see is an ever-increasing expansion. If you listened to the Democratic debate the other day, it was like, ‘Okay, I raise you one new entitlement and two more!’ I mean, it was just more and more. ‘I’ll pay for this. No I’ll pay for that!’ That’s the problem that we have, is that we’ve got into a bidding as to how we’re going to, quote, help people. And what we’ve found is that these programs actually don’t help people.

If you look at welfare as an example, and the other means-tested entitlement programs – I’m talking about Medicaid, food stamps, housing assistance and the like – all of them create a problem by infusing themselves and creating a dependency, number one. But more importantly – when we were doing welfare reform, roughly the out-of-wedlock birthrate was about 25%. It’s now up to 40%. And if you look at the dramatic increase in government programs, it actually tracks with the disintegration of the family. And I’m not saying these programs are intended – they were not intended to destroy the American family. But the greatest antidote to poverty in America is a stable family of a mom and a dad raising children. I mean, that’s the greatest antidote!

If you look at – there was a book published recently by a guy named Robert Putnam, who’s a liberal Harvard sociologist. He said if you come from a two-parent family in a neighborhood of two-parent families, and you go to school in that neighborhood school, the chances of you ever being in poverty are almost zero in America. And by the way, it doesn’t matter the color of your skin. It matters the family structure. On the converse, if you come from a single-parent family, and live in a single-parent family neighborhood, and go to that single parent family school, the chances of you ever reaching the top 20% – not top 1%, not top 10, top 20% – of income earners in America is 3%. And it doesn’t matter the color of your skin. So I would just say what we need to do is be less compassionate by involving them in government programs, and more focused on what we can to re-knit and restore the American family.

Thomas Valentine is a researcher for the American Principles Project and a junior at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.