Complete Transcript: RURAL TOWN HALL with Rick Santorum

Complete Transcript: RURAL TOWN HALL with Rick Santorum

The following is a complete transcript of Senator Rick Santorum's appearance on RFD-TV's RURAL TOWN HALL hosted by Mark Oppold.

Announcer:  RFD-TV News and Mediacom bring you Rural Town Hall, a conversation with the presidential candidates on issues important to rural Americans with the declared candidates for President of the United States.  Our guest, Rick Santorum, Republican and former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.  

Mark Oppold:  And from the beautiful Stine Family Barn in West Des Moines, Iowa, welcome to this rural town hall meeting produced by RFD-TV news and Mediacom.  I’m Mark Oppold; and for the next hour we’ll be spending time with just one candidate, discussing issues of interest and concern to rural Americans, whether farmers, ranchers, or just folks who choose to live in small towns that make up this great nation.  The questions come from a variety of interested parties including most of the major organizations representing different sectors of agriculture.  Some of the questions will be asked directly from members of our studio audience who have come to Des Moines, Iowa, today.  The focus of our discussion may be rural and in a completely objective context, but this is also an opportunity.  We see an opportunity to insure better understanding, better communication between rural and urban Americans.  We’ll start with key agricultural issues and then extend to other topics such as rural health care, rural education, government regulations, much, much more.  These are not debates.  These are conversations.  That said, RFD-TV and Mediacom welcome our guest today, former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and Republican candidate for president of the United States, Rick Santorum. 

(Applause)

Oppold:  Welcome.  Good to have you here.

Rick Santorum:  Thank you.

Oppold:  Have a seat.  Good to have you here.  Welcome, welcome!

Santorum:  Thank you.

Oppold:  Welcome to Rural Town Hall and, uh, spending the hour with us.

Santorum:  What a beautiful place.  You can’t see this on stage, but it’s a magnificent…

(Laughter)

Oppold:  We’ll have some shots.  We want to, uh, first of all, just thank you, Senator . . .

Santorum:  My pleasure.

Oppold:  . . . for accepting our invitation from Mediacom and RFD-TV to come here . . .

Santorum:  Thank you.

Oppold:  . . .and spend an hour talking about issues that relate to rural America.

Santorum:  Thank you, Mark. 

Oppold:   Good to have you here.

Santorum:  Appreciate it.

Oppold:  It’s going to be a fast hour.  Let’s get started.  Before we begin taking questions from our audience that is here, let’s take a look at this video produced by the Santorum campaign. 

(Santorum video)

Oppold:  Senator, as we get started here today, uh, anything you’d like to add as it relates directly to those here and watching in rural America and who live in our rural communities?

Santorum:  Well, yeah, thank you, I, I would say that, uh, I get, I got elected to the United States Senate back in 1994, Pennsylvania has been described as, by James Carville actually, the guy who ran the campaign against me, as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and Alabama in between and, uh, Pennsylvania has the second largest rural population in the country.  We’re, we’re a very rural state.  Agriculture is our number one industry, and I was the first senator from Pennsylvania in 100 years to serve on the senate ag committee, and the reason I did is because, well, those are the folks that elected me.  That’s where I got most of my votes, and I made a commitment, uh, at the point that I would, uh, you know, I came from a steel town in western Pennsylvania, so agriculture wasn’t something I was that familiar with and, uh, and again, I grew up in a small town, but I worked, you know, served 10 years on the senate ag committee and became a lot more familiar with agriculture and rural issues and, uh, spent a lot of time.  I used to, used to do what Chuck Grassley’s famous for doing here in Iowa is to get to every county, every year, and I did when I was a senator from Pennsylvania and got to understand the needs of, of rural America and small town America, and if you, as you’ll hear from the rest of our conversation today, uh, a lot of what I’m focused on is making sure that the areas of this country that are hurting the most, and if you look at it, at least in my state, uh, Pennsylvania, the highest unemployment rates are almost, are chronically in small, in, in small counties and rural counties.  Uh, the populations are moving from rural areas into the major cities.  We’re becoming a much more, uh, urban, uh country, and, and there’s a lot of reasons for that.  I know we’ll talk about some of them today.

Oppold:  Mm hmm.

Santorum: I can tell you that when my time in the senate and my time running for president, I focused a lot of energy and time and, and solutions to try to, uh, turn that, uh, turn that around so rural and small town America can be prosperous again.  I think it, if it isn’t, then I, I believe America is on a path that’s not gonna be a sustainable one, because I think the values of rural and small town America and, and this fact that there was such a strong population there is what’s kept America on the right path for a long time.

Oppold:  And you know, that leads right into our first question.  It’s a tradition and a very, uh, an organization close to RFD-TV and the next generation, uh, of our farmers and ranchers, FFA organization, and we welcome them to, uh, ask the first question today, Senator.

Santorum:  Excellent.

Oppold:  Welcome, go ahead.

Erica Baier:  Good afternoon, Senator Santorum.  My name is Erica Baier, and I’m a current state officer for the Iowa FFA Association.  Your first question:  How concerned would you be, er, excuse me, would you be that young people today understand agriculture and food better, and would you be supportive towards those efforts?

Santorum:  Yeah, most young people, well most people generally, think food comes from a grocery store. They don’t realize where or how it got there. I ran into this a lot in Pennsylvania. We had issues that dealt with everything from timbering to EPA regulations on water or air, particularly because we’re in the Chesapeake Bay area. There is a lot of waste management issues that we had to deal with in Pennsylvania, and the folks in, in our cities had, you know, well, let’s clamp down on ‘em. You know let’s get tough. They don’t realize if we make it unprofitable for our farmers to be able to compete and grow crops at a reasonable price then, you know, that grocery store prices are gonna go up, and you’re gonna have scarcity and all sorts of other issues. It’s really important. I mean, that’s why FFA is such a great organization, because it does provide a great education for our young people. I only wish that we did a better job, candidly in making sure that those in our cities understood how important it is. I know RFD-TV is trying to do that. There’s a huge disconnect between those who live in urban areas and the problems that occur in the rural areas of our country. And unfortunately, most of the votes are in the urban areas. As a result, you don’t have a champion that understands those issues and is able to communicate to the public. I think that’s one of the one of the reasons I would encourage people to look at our campaign, because I try to do my best to educate people as to why we need to have a system in place that makes life in rural areas a lot more profitable than it is today.

Oppold:  Thank you very much, and the folks at RFD-TV and Mediacom believe that the road to the White House goes through rural America as you’ve alluded to. I have a followup question that is somewhat the same, but relates to rural education.

Santorum:  Mm hmm.

Oppold:  This is submitted by the National Rural Education Association.  I ask it in their behalf.  From your perspective, Senator, what are the unique challenges facing America’s rural schools, and how would you address those challenges?

Santorum:  Well, I mean, you have tax base is a huge problem.  I mean, as you have people migrating out of rural and small town America tax base becomes a huge issue.  How do you finance your schools, and most schools in most states are financed via property taxes? I can tell you in situations where we had a, a school in my state that, uh, got a lot of money from timbering from the Allegheny National Forest and, of course, they cut back on timbering and, and, uh, as, as a result of that, uh, you know, the schools, uh, you know, were flat on their back, and we had to, had to get some support from the state, so when you see this continuing migration out of, out of rural areas, uh, in most areas of the country, you’re gonna have difficulties, you know, with, with tax base.  Second, obviously, is technology.  More and more education is, is technology driven.  Uh, the availability of broadband in, in our rural areas is a, is a vitally important thing - education, uh, you know, these, these young folks are not, they’re not used to reading books like we read books.  They read books on a tablet.  They read books, uh, online and so having that access, having, having the ability for rural areas to be able to, to, to get, uh, information into it and to, to be a place because you have a broadband, good broadband connectivity, uh, to be able to have jobs located there that allow you to, to do business because you have that capability. 

Oppold:  Very good.  Uh, Iowa Soybean Association joining us today, and welcome to you. 

Dean Coleman:  Yes, I’m Dean Coleman, and welcome to Iowa.

Santorum:  Thank you.

Coleman:  How would your presidency increase public support for U.S. agriculture, including a farm safety net that recognizes American agricultural producers as among the most efficient and least subsidized in the world?

Santorum:  Yeah, I have to tell ya.  I went on the senate Ag committee, and I, I was pretty much, uh, singly focused on getting rid of ag subsidies, because we had a cheap food policy in America.  We had a policy that said that, uh, we wanted to do everything we could to keep our food prices low, and we’ve provided lots of subsidies to farmers to do that.  I believe that the best, the better way to approach it, uh, was to go to a risk management system, that we use markets and, and, you know, I was in the state of Pennsylvania, we had almost nobody in Pennsylvania participate in the crop insurance program, ‘cause it was not, it was not designed for my truck farmers and for, uh, you know, folks who grow strawberries and watermelons and other things like that.  Uh, now, we had, you know, we have corn, we have dairy, we have other things, but it’s, it’s not like the big row crop states out here in the Midwest which we, which these programs were designed for, so I went after the subsidies and said look, I’m happy to provide support for the crop insurance program to make sure that we have broad participation.  Write it so it, uh, allows for broader participation and it, and then, provide some federal support, if we get rid of all these other programs that distort the marketplace and then, let the market determine who, what we’re planning, why we’re planning it, and all those sorts of things and so, we have eventually, and, and really over the last 30 years, we’ve moved to that system.  I know a lot of Republicans now are suggesting well, we need to get rid of all these subsidies and, uh, you know, they call the crop insurance a subsidy.  Crop insurance is not a subsidy.  If we don’t support crop insurance, and they’ll make sure that, that the large majority of our farmers, particularly the ones who actually farm for a living as opposed to farming for fun that those farmers have to have some sort of, of disaster assistance in place because if there isn’t, I can tell you what happens, because it happened for 20 years when I was in Congress which is if you don’t have enough, uh, folks, supported by crop insurance, and there’s a drought, then the government’s come in, bail out all the farmers which discourages everybody from crop insurance, so we have to have a system that, that, that is as much universal as possible, and we need to have enough federal support there to make sure that it’s affordable and it makes good, risk management sense to our farmers.

Coleman:  Thank you.

Santorum:  You bet.    

Oppold:  Thank you.  Another question, we invited our listeners and viewers to write in questions to, to ask at these rural town halls, our friends from the dairy industry Senator, it’s getting harder for family dairy operators to pass their farm to the next generation.  How would you help dairies and other farm operations keep the business in the family?

Santorum:  Obviously there was a day that Pennsylvania was a huge dairy state.  Not, not as much now as it used to be because, I remember when I came into the United States Senate, in fact, for most the time I was there, the average dairy herd in Pennsylvania was 50, 50 head, which is almost ridiculous to think about now.  I’ve been to, uh, you know, 5,000, 10,000 these were, uh, just huge dairies, uh, and so I understand, uh, what, what people are talking about.  This is not just the small farm, it’s also the small businessperson and, uh, the processor, etc.  That’s why I’m gonna be introducing a, uh, uh, a tax package, uh, which is a, which is a 20% flat tax.  Uh, we will make sure that nobody who’s paying taxes today, uh, is gonna be paying more, uh, but we will, uh, create a much more simple program.  It’ll be a 20% flat tax on individual income, a 20% flat tax on corporate income, and a 20% capital gains tax, so it doesn’t matter what form of income, dividends, interest, everything’s taxed at 20%, uh, and then we provide a, for, on the individual side, we provide a $2600 personal tax credit to make sure that, uh, no one, for those, those who are not paying the, uh, taxes today are not gonna be paying taxes in the future, uh, but we’re gonna provide a simple tax code that’s gonna be a great incentive for folks to, to invest and try to grow the economy.  Part of that plan is a repeal of the estate tax.  Uh, I believe that, you know, people who have worked hard, earned their money, paid their taxes shouldn’t have, death should not be a taxable event.  Uh, that the folks that, uh, get hurt the worst by this, uh, estate tax, uh, are folks who have, uh, really built small town and rural America and, and have built, uh, the manufacturing base of our country, all the things we wanna encourage people to do, we then hammer them when they die if they do it and, uh, I think that’s just wrong, and it’s, uh, uh, it’s destructive of uh, of, of families and, uh, it breaks them apart.  It puts them in a position where they have to do all this tax planning, and they have all this controversy and all this.  We need to get rid of that.  It’s not a, it’s, it, it’s not a fair system, and it’s one that, uh, is, it’s time has, has run to get repealed.

Oppold:  Mm hmm.  Yeah, exactly.  With the age, we, you know, with, there’s a tremendous, as you know, uh, a lot of turnover coming in the next 5, 10, 15 years . . .

Santorum: starts . . .

Oppold:  . . . hoping farm, farmland . . .

Santorum:  absolutely.

Oppold:  . . . and whole farms . . .

Santorum:  Yep.

Oppold:  . . . to the next generation.

Santorum:  And if we can’t keep the family farm then, what happens?  Well, then bigger farms end up buying them out and so, everybody complains about the corporatization of whatever, whether it’s, it’s agriculture or, or, or business.  We’re just, we’re getting more and more big businesses buying up the small guys.  Well, the estate tax is one of the reasons that happens.

Oppold:  Very good.  All right, we are just getting started.  Don’t go anywhere.  We’ve dealt with some very important issues already the first few minutes.  We’ll tackle others equally important including rural energy regulations when we return.  Right back with Rural Town Hall with former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and Republican presidential hopeful, Rick Santorum, after this. 

(Commercial break)

Announcer:  RFD-TV’s Rural Town Hall, produced in association with Mediacom.  The power to simplify. 

Oppold:  Welcome back to Rural Town Hall on RFD-TV.  I’m Mark Oppold, and we’re talking to former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum today, seeking the Republican presidential nomination and giving the senator a chance to, uh, address some issues that are paramount to you, farmers and ranchers, and those of you who just, again, choose to live in our great rural communities.  We’ve addressed some very important issues so far, and moving to our next topic here, from America’s Renewable Future, Senator, and welcome.

Katie Beherns:  Thank you.  Hello, Senator. 

Santorum:  Hi.

Beherns:  My name is Katie Beherns. 

Santorum:  Hi, Katie.

Beherns:  I’m with Growth Energy and America’s Renewable Future.  Um, while some candidates in the Republican field have been unsupportive of the Renewable Fuel Standard, um, you’ve stood with Iowans and the rest of rural America by supporting it.  What can you say about your support, and why should other candidates see this as such a crucial policy?

Santorum:  Well you know, it was consistent with my policy as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been against subsidies, and I don’t see the RFS as a subsidy because, well, it isn’t. I actually opposed subsidies, on ethanol to be just very honest about it, uh, but I’ve always supported the RFS because I thought it was a market access provision. You have an industry that is vertically integrated from the well head to the pump. You’re now introducing a new fuel originally because the oxygen was needed in our fuel to replace MTBEs and so I was supportive of it to make sure that that was in there. This is a domestically produced fuel. This employs people in the heartland of America at a cost that’s a lot cheaper than protecting foreign oil sources as we have to do around the world. You’re creating jobs here, you have a secure domestic source. It’s a source of oxygen and octane for our fuels. We needed to make sure that the oil companies would accept that into their feed stock and into the marketplace, so it insured the market access provision. It’s a job creator here in America. It’s a national security issue to make sure that we are not overly dependent on foreign sources of oil and if you think about it now, with the explosion thanks to the hydraulic fracturing that’s going on, we now have a lot more sources of oil here in this country and combined with the production of renewable fuels from ethanol and biofuels, that makes America a potentially, in the very near future, energy independent. America today is the number one producer of energy in the world. If I’d have said that to you 10 years ago, no one would have believed it, but we are. It’s a combination of hydraulic fracturing, the technology advances there, and the technology advances on ethanol. I would say one thing, and I always say this to the ethanol folks, you need to do a better job educating the American public about the benefits of ethanol and the efficiency of ethanol.  I’ll go another, I was asked a question in South Carolina the other day, and it wasn’t a friendly place to be asked by a conservative group... they make the claim, "oh it raises the price of food" and "it’s more expensive to make and it uses more energy to make than it does to produce..." All of those things have been debunked, but they’re still out there. It’s like these myths that continue to circulate around the issue of ethanol. One of the things that I’m very proud of is I’m the only person in the Republican side that has been a strong supporter of the RFS from day one and really one of the few in the race that continues to support it. I think it’s important if you’re gonna have a president that’s gonna go out there. I really feel it’s part of the president’s job, not just to vote and decide things, but to use the bully pulpit to educate the American public as to how we have to go. I don’t think this president has done as much for RFS as he’s for global warming. As much as ethanol helps in that regard, you don’t really see this president doing that. I would be a president that would make sure that America knows the truth about all of these fields.

Beherns:  Thank you.

Oppold:  Thank you very much.  American Agri-Women have joined us as well today.

Santorum:  And you’ve got a great Agri-Woman, right there to ask me that question.

(Laughter)

Annette Sweeney:  Thank you so much, Senator, and thank you for joining us today.

Santorum:  Thank you, Annette. 

Sweeney:  It’s great to see you again. 

Santorum:  Good to see you.

Sweeney:  I’m a farmer and a multi-generational farmer. We’re looking at rule-making and it’s coming down the pike where a lot of rule-making is happening, so when you are president, what actions would be taken to current rule-making related to greenhouse gases?

Santorum:  This is a very important issue. The overall regulatory environment that this president’s created has been as hostile to Americans in rural areas, to American agriculture, and to American manufacturers. It’s a radical environmental agenda that is meant to shut down the economy of this country and transfer wealth overseas. Now why would the president do that? I don’t know. I really, I don’t know, but he is doing that. There’s no question that the water regulations he just put forward are clearly drive up the cost and the misery index for farmers in America to deal with the regulatory landscape now. You look at what they did with CO2 regulations. The next thing they’re doing now is ozone regulations, which I’m told by the National Association of Manufacturers, will shut down any growth in manufacturing in this country. The same will have the impact on processing. This is a serious assault on rural areas. Now, why would I say rural areas? Yes, all the things deal with farming, but where does most of the manufacturing and processing occur? It doesn’t occur on Wall Street. It doesn’t occur in The Loop. It doesn’t occur in Hollywood. It occurs in small town and rural America and as we continue to drive manufacturing and processing out of this country, this will make it more difficult for our farmers to produce. We become less competitive and things get moved overseas and so, we have more imported products, including food products, that’ll come into this country as well as manufactured products. So, what the president has done is a huge wealth shift, but who’s most directly impacted?  Rural America is directly impacted. I hate to say this in stark terms, but the president and his party doesn’t get a lot of votes from rural America and as a result of that, this is plain to the environmentalists who I mentioned earlier are very much uneducated about rural ways of life. These environmental policies affect rural America and so they’re able to sell thes in their cities where they get their votes. If you look at America and at a map of America by county, you’d think that the Republicans, in fact, dominated America because 90% of the counties in America vote Republican. But it’s these deep blue urban areas where Democrats get their votes that, again, are disconnected from the life out in small town manufacturing America, small town agriculture America. The regulatory policies I’ve said from day one will suspend every one of those regulations. I will either get rid of them permanently or rewrite them if they’re necessary to rewrite. There’s one good thing about what the president’s done on environmental regulation and he’s done it without passing another bill. There’s nothing that a next president can’t do to turn back that clock. It’s important not just that we re-do that, but that we actually pass legislation that deals with a whole host of issues...whether it’s the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act...all of these were passed decades ago when the ability to measure, the ability to get to 80 parts per billion. It just gives the regulators way too much authority to be able to regulate, so there’s a lot of work to do. I know this is a long answer, but it’s a very important issue. The impact on rural America can’t be overstated.

Sweeney:  Thank you so much.

Santorum:  Thank you.

Oppold:  Thank you for the question, and that’s what this rural town hall is all about, uh, as much as we can do is connect those people in urban areas to what’s going on in rural America, what they’re facing, and how they’re a big part of the economy in the country, so . . .

Santorum:  It is, huge.

Oppold:  We have a gentleman from the, uh, Rural Electric Co-op who has a question.

Santorum:  Okay.

Bob Kolling:  Hello, Rick, Mr. Santorum.

Santorum:  I recognize that green shirt.

Kolling:  Ha, I know.  They seem to . . .

Santorum:  I see it in a lot of my town hall meetings.

Kolling:  They, they seem to pop up everywhere.

Santorum:  Yeah, it’s good!

Kolling:   So okay, uh, my name is Bob Kolling.  I’m general manager of Clark Electric here in Iowa, in Osceola, Iowa, and, and I’m gonna tag on her comment here with another one on the regulation and, and again on the EPA 111(d) as I think you’re probably aware of; but my question is, how should the country prioritize the limited funds in, and for, research and development and set a realistic schedule for curbing carbon emissions without risking the supply of safe, affordable electric power for rural America and all America?

Santorum:  Yeah, again, you have an administration that is, uh, is basically eliminating coal as a futures feed stock for energy and most of the country still, even though, it’s declined because of those regulations, most of the country still runs through coal and particularly in a lot of in the rural areas.  It’s devastating, uh, it’s devastating because we can burn this fuel cleanly and, uh, we can sequester that CO2.  Uh, if you do what the president suggests, which is to reduce emissions by 80% by, I think, the year 2050, and you read what the EPA says will be the result of that 80% reduction in emissions which is in large part because affecting electric rates, particularly in the rural areas, there is zero change in temperatures globally.  In other words, if we do everything the president wants to do, it will have no impact.  This is according to the EPA.  It will have no impact, so people always ask me, well then, should we do nothing?  Well, would you do something that’s gonna hurt people if it doesn’t have any benefit, and the answer is no, you wouldn’t do that.  I mean, you may want, you may think, well, we need to do something.  Here’s my idea.  My idea is that we need to bring more manufacturing back in this country.  Now, you’d say well, wait a minute, that’ll pollute more.  Okay, let me, let me sorta game play this out.  You have two countries.  One country has no environmental regulation to speak of and when they make a product, they pollute a lot, and they put a lot of greenhouse gases in the air, they do all sorts of horrible things, uh, including ozone which, of course, is, you know, travels around the world.  It doesn’t just stay in the area in which it’s produced.  So, you have one country that is unregulated, produces a lot of, lot of really nasty stuff when they make products.  Then, you have another country that is highly regulated and produces very little.  Now, if you’re concerned about global warming, where do you wanna have that product made, country A or country B?  Guess who country A is?  China.  Guess who country B is?  America.  So, here’s my idea.  We’re gonna move two to three to five million jobs out of China, out of India where there are no regulations and move them back to the United States.  We will create better jobs here.  We will lower C02.  We will have more of an impact in reducing greenhouse gases by actually making more things in America.  That’s why we have to get rid of those regulations Annette was talking about.  We have to get rid of, uh, the programs that you’ve just talked about, and allow America to compete again.  If we do, we’ll accomplish a twofer.  We’ll create more jobs here in America, in rural America.  If you remember, those were, that’s where those manufacturing jobs are gonna go, and will actually reduce CO2. 

Kolling:  Thank you.

Santorum:  You bet.

Kolling:  Great answer.

Oppold:  Thank you, regulations, uh, have come up in several different avenues of rural America, and I believe we’re gonna have that again with your Iowa pork producers.  I know you enjoy Iowa pork when you’re here.

Santorum:  I sure do.  

Dave Struthers:  Hello, Senator. 

Santorum:  Hi.

Struthers:  My name is Dave Struthers.  I’m president of the Iowa Pork Producers and, uh, a hog and crop farmer here in central Iowa, and I will make it aware that farmers were the original environmentalists, before it was a tag line.

Santorum:  It seems like.  I mean that’s what to explain to people in urban America.  I mean, whether it’s, whether it’s issues, uh, dealing with, uh, you know, uh, care of animal welfare issues or whether it’s environmental issues, all of these things.  This is, this is people’s livelihood.  I mean, these animals, these crops, I mean, this soil?  Do you think they’re gonna abuse it?  I mean, do you think they’re gonna, eh, would you go out and, and, and, and, you know, just keep your, keep your, your own living room a mess or your kitchen a mess if you’re gonna cook and eat from?  Of course not.  You’re gonna keep it clean.  Why?  Because you’re gonna eat from it.  You’re gonna use it.  I mean it’s the same idea at the farm.  Eh, you’re not gonna go out and abuse your animals.  You’re not gonna go out and, and abuse your soil.  That’s your livelihood.  You’re gonna take care of that.  You’re gonna husband it and, and the idea that experts in Washington or, or these folks who, who sit behind a desk and push pencils and have no connection to what’s going on in, in, in small town and rural America care more about your family, care more about your soil, care more about your animals than you do who you depend on their livelihood from it, it’s again just, it doesn’t make any sense, and I hope that, that folks, uh, in this country really take a step back and say, uh, these are the folks who feed us.  These are the folks who sustain us, and you come out and look, and I’ve spent a lot of time out here in rural areas, this is, uh, you know, you, you, you walk into a, a, a dairy, uh, a dairy barn, I mean it’s, you can eat off that floor.  I mean not, not where the cows are standing, but everywhere else!

(Laughter)

Struthers:  That’s right.

Santorum:  I mean, that’s, that’s why, because you wanna keep disease out.  You don’t want, you don’t want all this stuff so I, I, I, I just, I know I’ve gone on a rant here, but go ahead and ask your question.

(Laughter)

Struthers:  No, it’s on the former regulations and you, you’ve addressed it somewhat.  The Waters of the U.S. rule that was recently . . .

Santorum:  Yeah.

Struthers:  . . . recently passed, uh, what’s your opinion on that?

Santorum:  I don’t think we should regulate every puddle in America.  Uh, you know, I mean that’s what we’re doing.  I mean what people don’t understand is that we are regulating every puddle in America, and it gives, again, these folks sitting behind desks, uh, in Washington, D.C., who have, uh, no connection with what’s going on out here in rural America and the burdens that we’re gonna put on, on farmers and ranchers, uh, as well as, I mean, even, it’s not just farmers. People aren’t gonna, the, the impact of this goes way beyond just farmers and ranchers.  It’s a, it’s an incredible expense for no discernible benefit.  That’s the real issue.  If, if we were gonna say oh, we’re gonna dramatically improve health and, and, you know, and dramatically improve, but there is no dramatic improvement, this is simply a matter of who’s controlling how you do your business, and these are folks who think they know better than you do how to run your operation, and it’s fundamentally flawed. 

Struthers:  Thank you so much.

Santorum:  You bet.

Oppold:  Thank you for being here from the Iowa Pork Producers.  Uh, we are gonna take another break here, Senator.

Santorum:  I could use a breath.

(Laughter)

Oppold:  We covered some very important topics so far, just scratching the surface.  Still to come, we’ll ask Senator Santorum about rural infrastructure issues related to our Ag economy.  You’re watching Rural Town Hall on RFD-TV. 

(Commercial break)

Announcer:  RFD-TV’s Rural Town Hall, produced in association with Mediacom, the power to simplify.

Oppold:  Welcome back to Rural Town Hall on RFD-TV.  I’m Mark Oppold, and a big part of RFD-TV, indeed, is our legacy of Roy Rogers, including his beloved horse, Trigger, and trusty dog, Bullet.  We’re proud owners of both and on display for current and future generations to enjoy.  You said you were out, watched Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger, both now on RFD-TV.

Santorum:  Very good.  That’s great.  That’s good.  Uh, look, I mean it’s, it’s wonderful to, uh, to harken back to those days which were, uh, simpler and, uh…

Oppold:  Television the way it used to be our president and owner says.

Santorum:  I think, yeah, but think about it.  Think of what television used to be.  Television used to support moms and dads in trying to inject moral values into their kids.  Now, you know, moms and dads have to fight to, to avoid all of this really dangerous stuff that, that’s on our televisions and, and so thank you for, for at least providing some oasis, uh, that, uh, you know, the kids who wanna watch . . .

Oppold:  Mm hmmm.

Santorum:  . . . can get those values and, and do it in a way that’s, that’s affirming of what parents are trying to teach their kids.

Oppold:  By the way, during the break, you and I were comparing 1970 pictures.

Santorum:  Yeah, that was not a very nice picture you put up there.

(Laughter)

Santorum:  I mean that, that’s, I should have had some editorial license here.

(Laughter)

Oppold:  We have some great, great partners with Mediacom; and they are here now as well as we continue on with our questions.  Go ahead.

Santorum:  Okay.

Jeff Angelo:   Senator, Jeff Angelo from Mediacom.  I’m about to ask you about regulation again, so get ready to fire back up.

Santorum:  Okay.

Angelo:  But, uh, earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it was going to begin regulating the internet according to the rules that were created for . . .

Santorum:  1936?

Angelo:  . . . 1930s for telephone companies.

Santorum:  Yeah, unbelievable.

Angelo:  So, I was wondering what your thoughts were about that.

Santorum:  Yeah, I opposed that.  Look, I’ve opposed net neutrality.  I think that the internet, while there are a lot of concerns as a parent I have about the internet and what it’s what it’s doing to our culture, uh, eh, the internet itself, to me, is sort of a neutral platform.  I mean, it can be used for good things, it can be used for bad things and, and not surprisingly, it is.  Uh, but it is, it is a lifeline.  It’s vital, and, uh, with the federal government  taking over, I mean, really?  I mean, do we really want the federal government to take over this dynamic, burgeoning, uh, uh, area of our economy that’s improving the quality of life for so many and, and reaching out particularly in rural areas to the opportunities to be able to live here, conduct business here; because you don’t necessarily need to be, you know, next, you know, in the, in the city now to be able to conduct your business if you have that connectivity and, uh, you know, it, so it’s opening up.  It really is opening up the, the highways for, uh, for people to live wherever they want and, you, you offer here in rural America great quality of life and a lot less money.  Now, the federal government’s come in and say no, we’re, we got this now.  We’re gonna, we’re gonna take over this.  We’re gonna regulate it like the phone company back in 1936.  I mean it’s almost unbelievable. But I will tell you as president, we will do everything, uh, humanly possible, uh, to, uh, to undo that, to, uh, to, to remove these regulations and, and, and then really go to the Congress and, and see what we can do, if we can put something into law that’s gonna make sure that the next president who decides that they know how to run the world better than the rest of the world does, uh, isn’t gonna try to take this over again. 

Angelo:  Thank you.  Appreciate it.

Santorum:  You got it.    

Oppold:  Thank you, Mediacom.  And, of course, we’re covering all of rural America all across the country, and this question kind of alludes to that.  It’s, uh, being submitted by the American Sheep Industry.  I ask it on their behalf.  What is your position on livestock grazing on federal lands, Senator?  How would you balance the use of public lands in a climate that, to ranchers and the economy that relies on them, feels like the only goal of the opponents is to remove all livestock from federal lands?

Santorum:  Well, I mentioned the problem I had in, in Pennsylvania with, uh, with the Allegheny National Forest which is the only big federal land.  We’re very blessed in Pennsylvania.  We don’t have very much federal land, uh, at all.  Uh, you know, we were settled early and private property and, uh, but we have one national forest, and it’s been a war with the federal government, uh, it’s the largest black cherry stand in the world.  It’s the most profitable forest in the United States.  In other words, it’s very valuable timber there and, of course, you think well, then, you know, we should be able to manage it.  No, no, no!  We gotta wall it off.  I mean, we, the environmentalists come in, you know, you’re, you know, you’re farming the forest.  This is terrible.  But we don’t have any wildfires.  We don’t have any.  Why?  Because we maintain.  We, we, it’s, you know, nature as we see in California.  Nature has a way of renewing things, but it isn’t necessarily the most efficient and productive way to do it and, and so we find that to be the case, obviously, with all this BLM land all over the west . . .

Oppold:  Mm hmm.

Santorum:  . . . and, uh, I don’t know why we have it.  I mean, I just simply don’t know why. Look, I understand if we have environmentally sensitive areas or we have, you know, grand, the Grand Tetons or Yellowstone, but why do we have, literally, you know, millions of acres of prairie land that is not environmentally sensitive or necessarily important? We should be turning that land back over to the private sector.  Let them management, manage it.  You go out west, and you see privately managed grasslands, and you see publically managed lands, and you think why don’t we have these folks do what needs to be done over here. That’s really what we should be doing and again, it’s a matter of trying to explain that to the American public because if you actually went out, and the media doesn’t wanna do any of this stuff;  but if you actually brought the media out by the nose and said look, here’s, here’s what BLM land looks like, that you’re, that you’re concerned about, right?  You’re concerned about, oh, well the federal government needs to take care of this land because, you know, they’ll do, they’d be better stewards of it.  Well here, look, look at this land.  Now look at the privately managed land.  Now, which land do you want, what do you wanna see more of in America? Again, we have to have leadership that will inform the American public to make the right decisions and right now, the media is, is leading them, is, you know, shilling for Barack Obama and the left to take control of more things. 

Oppold:  Well, this media wants to connect rural America and urban America.

Santorum:  Good.

Oppold:  All right, the Des Moines Register, our next guest.  Welcome to you today.

Kim Norvel:  Good afternoon.

Santorum:  Hi.

Norvel:  My name is Kim Norvel.  I’m a reporter at the Des Moines Register.

Santorum:  Hi.

Norvel:  My question is, what is your prescription for revitalizing economic development in rural America?

Santorum:  I think I alluded to it earlier, with a manufacturing plan that will revitalize the country generally. It used to be we were only gonna manufacture near where the resource was or where a body of skilled labor was. Not anymore. I mean, every state in America can now get engaged and involved in manufacturing. Companies are gonna go where there’s available land and where there’s people who want them there, and there’s trained people. So it’s a combination of making sure that we have number one, a competitive tax system, a competitive trade system, and a competitive regulatory system. We don’t’ have any of those right now. We do have one advantage right now. We have cheap energy prices for probably as far as the eye can see. That is a huge game changer for us that allows us to go out and compete for more jobs to come back, so we have now the energy prices. If you, if you elect me president, we’ll pass a tax bill that will put manufacturing back on square one. One of the things we’re doing is for corporations is 20% rate, as I mentioned before, but no corporate welfare anymore. No special tax provisions. Everything will be treated the same. No oil depletion allowance, nothing.  Everything will be 20%, and every expenditure you make that’s related to the business is expensed. No depreciation, no amortization. Everything’s expensed. That’s a huge incentive for manufacturers. Why? Because they’re capital intensive. They spend a lot of money. They have to have depreciate their equipment and their property over time. Now, you can expense it immediately. Huge incentive for manufacturers to come back here. We’re gonna have a repatriation change. Right now we have a system that says that if you make money in China, you pay a 20% rate over there. You wanna bring that money back, you gotta pay the difference which is another 15%-20% here in America. So guess what? They leave their money over there. What we’re gonna say is no matter where you’re, you’re bringing it back from, whatever country, the maximum rate you’re gonna pay is 7% on that money coming back.  We think $2,000,000,000; $1,000,000,000 to $2,000,000,000 will come back into this country from Apple and other folks who have made products overseas that will bring their money back and invest it here in plant equipment. That’s gonna happen in rural and small town America all over the country. The big challenge for rural and small town America will be: are you gonna have people who are gonna be trained to do the jobs, number one? And number two, are we gonna change our welfare system to make sure that there’s an incentive for people to actually take these jobs? I can tell you, here in Iowa, which has very low unemployment, about 3%-3.5%. Every manufacturer, and I’ve been to about 30 or 40 of them so far this campaign, have told me the same thing. They’re having trouble finding people, people who, who are willing to work. They’ll have people come in and sit and meet with them. They’ll talk to them, and they’ll talk about how they wanna work and then they say "well, you know, I get this benefit if I don’t work and if I go to work here, I’m gonna lose this." We can’t have the federal government being an obstacle to growth in America and right now, it is with our welfare system.

Norvel:  Thank you.

Oppold:  Thank you.  And we are nearing the home stretch of this edition of our Rural Town Hall with Republican candidate and former U.S. Senator, Rick Santorum.  Still to come, though, we’ll pose important questions about Social Security and rural health care.  You’re watching Rural Town Hall on RFD-TV. 

(Commercial break)

Announcer:  RFD-TV’s Rural Town Hall, produced in association with Mediacom, the power to simplify.

Oppold:  And welcome back to Rural Town Hall on RFD-TV.  I’m Mark Oppold talking with Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, about topics crucial to you in rural America, those of you who live in our small, rural communities.  Heading down the home stretch, and we hear our next, uh, group here today, from AARP, Senator.  And welcome. 

Sharon Treinen:  Thank you.

Santorum:  Hi.

Treinen:  Welcome to you, too, Senator Santorum.

Santorum:  Thank you.

Treinen:  My name is Sharon Treinen and I’m a volunteer with AARP and a former member of the executive council. My question to you relates to rural elders, there’s certainly increasing numbers in Iowa, and their challenges with housing affordability. Do you believe the federal government should provide financial support for assisted living in communities in rural Iowa or rural America?

Santorum:  This is a huge issue because as you know, we have the baby boom generation retiring right now and we have a growing number of seniors. People are living longer and using a lot more care and services as a result, so the question is, how much does the federal government get involved? How much do we actually try to encourage people to provide and plan for themselves? Believe it or not, there’s a cause and effect. The federal government provides a safety net, then the less need there is for people to be able to do it themselves and guess what? They don’t do it themselves. It’s a very, very difficult thing to answer. I would say this: We need to shore up the Social Security system because it is not on a sustainable path.  We have to shore up the Medicare system. A lot of low-income people who are seniors need the Medicaid system. It is absolutely vital. A lot of these costs that you’re talking about here are costs that would be provided under the Medicaid system. What we’ve seen under the last few years is a dramatic expansion of the Medicaid system which, in my mind, threatens the, the core purpose of it. I would repeal Obamacare. That may sound disconnected. It’s not, because Obamacare is a huge expansion of Medicaid. I would repeal Obamacare and get Medicaid back to caring for the lower income population that was intended to provide health insurance for a broader group of Americans who should be in the private sector insurance system. You start doing that, you start taking Medicare out of where it shouldn’t be and put it where it is. You’re gonna have more resources to be able to care for more things.

Treinen:  Thank you.

Santorum:  Thank you.

Oppold:  Thank you, AARP.  Uh, one more question, at least, uh, trying to get as many as we can here, uh, Senator.  This is from our friends from Agri-Pulse, and welcome again. 

Frank Holdmeyer:  Thank you.  Good afternoon, Senator.  Frank Holdmeyer, representing Agri-Pulse.

Santorum:  Yes, sir.

Holdmeyer:  Uh, you’ve expressed support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal which could significantly expand farm income, but you’ve also said that Congress should wait until the next president takes office despite the expected benefits.  Why would you wait?

Santorum:  Yeah, ‘cause I don’t trust this president.

(Laughter)

Santorum:  I mean it’s, I mean, I could go on in detail, but the president said that he is gonna produce the most quote (his term) “progressive” trade agreement in the history of our country.  I don’t want progressive trade agreements.  I don’t want trade agreements that are gonna give away, uh, what, what that means is the president’s willing to trade economic benefits for this country to move an agenda that he wants for the world.  I’m not into that.  I think a trade agreement should have two purposes.  Number one, it should be for the economic benefit of both parties.  Obviously, you can’t have a trade agreement that, that only benefits one party.  You’re not gonna get a trade agreement then.  But it has to benefit both parties.  It can’t just be a one-way street; and we’ve had some, some deals that have not been necessarily great, great trade agreements.  So, number one, it has to benefit both parties and number two, it has to be in the national security interest of our country, ‘cause trade agreements are part of our foreign policy, whether we like it or not.  It shouldn’t be part of our cultural policy.  It shouldn’t be part of our environmental policy.  Uh, all of these things the president wants to inject into our trade agreements, uh, and I’m not interested in doing that.  I think there’s two reasons we should stick to those, and you should wait ‘til Rick Santorum becomes president to negotiate it.

(Laughter)

Holdmeyer:  All right, thank you.

Santorum:  Thank you.

Oppold:  Thank you, Agri-Pulse.  We have covered a lot of ground, and we thank all those folks who have stepped forward with questions here today, and we wanna leave you time here, Senator, for closing thoughts, again, to those here and all across rural America that are watching.

Santorum:  Well, I’ve said this before.  Our founders understood the importance of people being connected to the land, that there was something that and, and, and even those of you who are watching who live in cities, you know that when you go out into nature, and you’re, you’re, you’re in synch with the pulse of what’s going on in the world around you.  It opens you up to a better understanding of maybe what, what the truth is about, about a lot of issues, and we have, we have, we, we’ve seen this in migration into our more urban areas, and the country has changed as a result.  We’ve been disconnected from, uh, from the land.  We’re disconnected from the values that we learn from just, from, from working with God and His creation, uh, and we tend to think that everything’s created by man when we live in a city because that’s all we see. And when you’re out here in rural areas, you see the wonder of what God has created and how man interacts with God.  And God becomes so much more present than when you, you know, you, you get up in the morning, and you go on a subway to a place that provides everything is provided by man as opposed to, uh, this essential interaction between man and this creator and so, uh, I, I think that’s a way of saying that one of the things I really am, I’m gonna be focused on as president is making sure, uh, that we create an opportunity for people to come back out here to small town and rural America and connect and have a better understand of what life is really supposed to be lived.

Oppold:  Thank you.  Thank you very much for being here today, Senator.

Santorum:  You bet.  My pleasure.

Oppold:  Thanks so much for you, for joining us as well.  West Des Moines, Iowa, has been the place.  We’d like to thank Harry Stine and his family and the Stine’s Feed Company for allowing us to use this beautiful Stine Family Barn.  We’d like to thank our partner, Mediacom, for helping us bring you this Rural Town Hall today as well.  Please remember, your vote counts.  Be sure to register if you haven’t already, and participate in every election coming up.  I’m Mark Oppold again.  Thanks for joining us and goodbye from Des Moines, Iowa. 

(applause)

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 Frankly and RFDTV. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service , and Ad Choices .