Santorum vows to cut taxes, regulations, spending

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By CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press

LINCOLN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Republican Rick Santorum vowed Friday to cut government spending, regulations and entitlement programs during his first 100 days in office if elected president.

Santorum told Michigan voters that social welfare programs have made millions of Americans dependent on government for the kind of help that churches and civic groups used to provide.

When that happens, "we become detached from our neighbors," he said. The government should remain "the ultimate safety net," he said, providing only "a hand up, not a handout."

"Poverty is not a disability," Santorum told about 200 people in the Detroit suburb of Lincoln Park. People must realize they "can rise through a struggle," he said.

He said "means-tested" entitlement programs should be turned over to the states, and have time limits imposed for recipients. The plan would "save money and save lives," he said.

Santorum's campaign had billed his 55-minute speech as a major announcement of his agenda for his first 100 days in office. But the proposals were familiar ones. They included steep cuts in spending and regulations, and the repeal of "Obamacare," the 2010 Democratic-crafted health care overhaul.

Santorum said people who lose money when selling their houses should be allowed to take a tax deduction on their loss. Otherwise, he said, the government should get out of the housing and mortgage industry and let the private market return the troubled sector to equilibrium.

He repeated his calls for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and an aggressive program of drilling for more domestic oil and gas.

As usual, Santorum sharply criticized President Barack Obama on several fronts, and took a few swipes at his chief GOP rival, Mitt Romney.

He said the health care program that Romney initiated as Massachusetts governor has proven ineffective, a claim Romney disputes. Santorum also said Romney's proposal to limit tax deductions for charitable gifts by rich people would hurt churches and civic organizations.

Santorum's speech went past 9 p.m., limiting local news organizations' ability to highlight his 100-day agenda.

The Michigan and Arizona primaries are Tuesday.

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