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December 21st, 2011
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Santorum: I want to keep the tax–the taxes leveled on Social Security right now

In an interview today on CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum spoke with Wolf Blitzer about the payroll tax cut negotiations, his recent endorsement and his recent comments on income inequality. A highlight from the interview is after the jump; please visit CNN.com for a full transcript.

Please credit all usage of the interview to CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer

Highlight from Full Interview
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR:  Getting down to the wire right now for Republican candidates before the first presidential votes are cast in Iowa.  Some fear a risky stalemate in Congress could hurt the Republicans' chances, though, of reclaiming the White House.

Let's discuss what's going on with Republican presidential candidate, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.  He's joining us right now.

Senator, thanks very much for coming in.  And let me get right to the issue of the moment here in Washington.  Are you with House Republicans or Senate Republicans when it comes to extending the payroll tax cut for middle class American families?

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Yes, my feeling is that there either is a Social Security trust fund that is used to pay Social Security benefits or there isn't.  As someone who's been on the butt end of many attacks that Republicans don't care about Social Security, that Republicans are the ones who are trying to gut Social Security, Republicans are the ones that want to make sure that - are not going to be there to stand up and make sure that it's properly funded, and then we see Democrats out there trying to cut the payroll tax - in other words, cut the funding for Social Security and say that if you don't do that, then you're not for middle income Americans, well, I thought Social Security was for middle income Americans.

This is the kind of gamesmanship that gets played here.  You're either for a Social Security system that is separate, that is funded through payroll taxes, and benefits are paid out of it, or Social Security and the taxes for that is just like everything else in the federal government.  It's fungible, it can be used for tax cuts, it can be used for other purposes, it can be used for Social Security, it can be used for something else.

You can't play this game that President Obama is playing that Social Security is this sacrosanct program, and at the same time, use funds from Social Security to pay for something else.  In this case, tax cuts.

BLITZER:  Well, let me just interrupt and ask the question then.  I take it you're not with John Boehner or Mitch McConnell.  You wouldn't vote to extend the payroll tax cut for another year.

SANTORUM:  No.  No, I wouldn't.

Look, I believe in the Social Security system.  We've got to fix the Social Security system so it's there and it's solvent, and it's there for future generations.

And we have - so many years I have heard, well, we're talking the Social Security tax dollars and we're spending on other things.  Here we are, sinking Social Security tax dollars and spending it on other things.  In this case, a tax cut for the American consumer.

Now, that's a good thing to spend it on, but it either is a Social Security trust fund, it either is money to pay for Social Security benefits, and it's levied for that purposes, or it's not.  And in this case, you see the president advocating and pushing to undermine the stability of the Social Security system, and I'm against that.

BLITZER:  It's not just the president.  It's most of the Republicans in the Senate.  And the Republicans in the House say basically, under difference circumstances for a year, they want to see 160 million Americans continue to have this tax cut.  They don't want a tax hike on 160 million Americans.

But am I hearing you correctly, Senator?  You're saying you do want to increase taxes January 1st for 160 million Americans?

SANTORUM:  I want to keep the tax - the taxes leveled on Social Security right now - the taxes leveled do not pay the benefits.  There is more money being paid out in Social Security benefits than there is coming in to Social Security trust fund dollars.

The whole point of the Social Security system is to keep benefits and taxes and an equilibrium so we do not have a system that is short of money.  That's what the objective and as always been the objective of the Social Security system.  That is not what's going on right now.

I am for tax cuts.  I'd be very happy to come back and talk to the president about how we're going to provide tax relief for millions of Americans.  But I'm not - I've never been for a Social Security tax cut, because it undermines our ability to pay Social Security benefits.

BLITZER:  All right.  So I just wanted to make sure I fully understood.  I think you're in the same place where Michele Bachmann is right now.

SANTORUM:  Yes.

BLITZER:  She says she won't vote to extend this payroll tax cut –

SANTORUM:  I am.

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