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Santorum Says He’s Not Sure GOP Cares About Poor People — Do Vitter and Jindal Agree?

Santorum’s Remarks on Monday Accuse Republicans of Staying Silent About Issues Faced by Low-Income Workers

BATON ROUGE — In the wake of U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s vote to block an increase in the minimum wage and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s continued refusal to expand access to affordable health care for more than 240,000 working, uninsured Louisianians, Rick Santorum’s comments this week that Republicans do not “care as much about the poor as Democrats” seem to be a rare moment of truth from a GOP leader.

“Rick Santorum muses that Republicans do not seem to care about the poor, but their disdain and dismissal of low-income working Americans goes beyond mere rhetoric,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk. “It’s not about what Republicans say or don’t say — it’s about what they do. Louisiana Republicans like David Vitter and Bobby Jindal have consistently opposed policies that would lift working Louisianians out of poverty, provide affordable health care for the uninsured and invest in high-quality public schools and universities that can help our kids compete for jobs in the 21st century.

“My question for David Vitter and Bobby Jindal is this — do you agree with Rick Santorum’s comments? And do you believe that slashing funding for higher education, denying health insurance to more than 240,000 Louisianians and blocking an increase to the minimum wage represent an agenda that will address Louisiana’s crippling problem of poverty?”

At a Monday meeting of conservatives, former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said, “People ask me, ‘Do Republicans care as much about the poor as Democrats do?’ I’m not sure we do. I’m not sure we do. And the reason I’m not sure we do, is because I don’t hear us talking about them very often.”

Louisiana’s poverty rate of 19.9 percent ranks the state as third-worst in the nation, behind only Mississippi and New Mexico.

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April 30, 2014 — Vitter votes to block the Minimum Wage Fairness Act.

April 9, 2014 — Vitter votes to block the Paycheck Fairness Act.

April 2, 2014 — Kaiser Family Foundation estimates 242,150 poor, uninsured, nonelderly adults in Louisiana are in a health coverage gap because Jindal has refused to expand Medicaid eligibility.

Dec. 4, 2013 — The American Association of State Colleges and Universities releases data that show Louisiana cut higher education by 17.6 percent — the most in the nation — and had six straight years of cuts totaling more than $700 million.