Rick Santorum: Single mothers “breed” criminals

From the Rick Santorm archives, new foolishness emerges. As unearthed by the good people at Mother Jones, in 1994 when Santorum was running for Senate in Pennsylvania he boldly asserted that single moms were the downfall of the United States. At a town hall in Clairton, Pennsylvania, Santorum said:

“Most people agree a continuation of the current [welfare] system will be the ruination of this country. We are seeing it. We are seeing the fabric of this country fall apart, and it’s falling apart because of single moms.”

Santorum made this point in the context of government spending and moralizing about women’s life choices, but he went further to make a ridiculous assertion about single motherhood and crime, telling the Philadelphia Inquirer that same year that

“What we have is moms raising children in single-parent households simply breeding more criminals… We will never solve the crime problem unless we solve the welfare problem. They are deeply intertwined.”

Santorum has repeatedly asserted that he was a major player in the welfare reform legislation in 1996. And as demonstrated by his record, he has repeatedly targeted single mothers throughout his tenure in the Senate. He introduced legislation that would have required single mothers who had been on welfare for more than two years to work at least 35 hours a week in order to receive benefits. They would also be denied benefits if they could not identify their child’s father. And teen moms? Forget it. Under his plan, which mercifully did not pass Congress, unwed teen mothers would not be eligible for welfare at all. Disgustingly, it didn’t end there. According to Mother Jones:

It wasn’t just single moms that came under assault from Santorum. He told his audience in Clairton that the welfare program’s ballooning costs were also due to “aliens,” “drug addicts,” and children “who have learning disabilities” as well. Santorum went on to suggest that cases of attention deficit disorder were being faked to bilk the government. “[Y]ou have a lot of testimony indicating that parents are coaching their children to stay in that situation in order to receive benefits,” he said.

This is tried-and-true conservative blather. Blame crime on poor people. Blame it on single mothers, and gesticulate towards without saying it outright, that you’re talking about poor women of color.

This kind of language, which is far from obsolete, is coded racial rhetoric about young mothers of color and their children. Rick Santorum has perfected this kind of rhetoric to an art. In fact, the relationship between poverty and crime is complicated, and there are host of brilliant studies that discuss welfare and the factors that relate poverty and crime — none of which support the sloppy argumentation of conservative politicians like Santorum that are taking cheap shots against poor women for political gain.

 

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One Comment

  1. Posted March 14, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    That is just sick. I’m a single mom and became so because my husband was killed. He never even got to see the birth of his daughter. This guy is twisted. And he is suppose to be christian well for christ’s sake have a heart santorum.

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