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Santorum attacks Romney in Detroit

Published by James O'Toole on .

DETROIT -- Rick Santorum, describing himself as an opponent of all government bailouts, criticized Mitt Romney today for favoring the government's rescue of Wall Street while opposing aid to the auto industry.
Twelve days before a crucial primary here, and on a day when General Motors had announced record earnings, Santorum said that the auto industry would have done as well or better if the federal government, under the Bush and Obama administrations, had not intervened to save GM and Chrysler.
Santorum emphasized that his criticism extended to both administrations as he said that both had supported polices that were "injurious to capitalism.''
He faulted the Bush regime, for example, for bailing out the investment firm Bear Stearns at the outset of the financial crisis. He said that both Wall Street and Detroit would have been better off without the government intervention.
"I went though this with the steel industry ... no one bailed out the steel industry,'' he said, arguing that "the facilities that are creating huge profits right now'' would still exist without the government's decision to invest billions in the auto giants.
"Would the auto industry look different than it does today? Yes it would ....Would it still be alive and well? I think it would be alive and just as well, equally if not better,'' he said.
"I actually blame President Bush more than President Obama,'' he added, saying that his decisions set an unfortunate precedent for a government role in the industry's restructuring.
Santorum spoke to an audience of several hundred at the Detroit Economics Club, laying out his tax plan with its call for an end to corporate taxes on manufacturing industries. The Santorum proposal would replace the current structure of the personal income tax with two brackets, 10 percent and 28.5 percent for more affluent taxpayers. He would cut the corporate levy in half, to 17.5 percent, but would exempt manufacturing firms from even that rate.
He argued that the special treatment was justified by global competitive challenges faced by a sector that once accounted for 20 percent of U.S. jobs before shrinking its current proportion of 9 percent.  
"Making things is the key to wealth creation in any society,'' he said, adding that a strong manufacturing base was also essential for national security reasons.
Santorum also took the opportunity to address several criticisms of his record pressed by the Romney campaign. He noted that his lifetime AFL-CIO voting score was just 13 percent. Reacting to his recent victories and soaring poll numbers, the Romney campaign has increasingly attacked him for having voted against right-to-work measures, and portrayed him as a big spender over his support for appropriations bills that contained earmarks.
Santorum reminded the audience of  Romney's verbal lapse when he said that he wasn't "worried about the poor.''
"We have to be concerned about everybody,'' he said.

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