One of the feistiest exchanges came in response to a young child's question on the cost of medical care in America. Urged on by his mother, a boy asked what Santorum would do to lower medical costs, but before he could finish his question, the candidate said such things should be left up to the market.
"We can make medicine cheaper by using markets," Santorum said. "That's how you make medicine cheaper is that you have free people going out there and competing against each other and competition drives up quality and drives down costs."
Competition? Okay, great! So we can import cheaper drugs from Canada then, have them compete in the open market?
"The only reason new drugs are developed is because Americans actually do pay for the cost of that research," Santorum said. "And so when you say oh, I'll go and get my drugs in Canada, that's great. Go get your drugs in Canada and if everybody did that, you'd have no new drugs. You have that drug and maybe you're alive today because people have a profit motive to make that drug."
Okay, so forget the open market. Really, only people who can afford to deliver profits to drug companies should be able to use them, huh?
"People have no problem going out and buying an iPad for $900," he said. "But paying $900 for a drug, they have a problem with it. It keeps you alive. Why? Because you have been conditioned to thinking that health care is something that you should get and not have to pay for. Drug companies, health care companies need to have a profit motive, because if they don't, then how are we going to regulate costs? We are gonna ration care."
iPads start at $500, by the way. And unlike life saving drugs, you buy it once. If you had to pay $900 for an iPad every month, or even every year, you better believe sales would crater.
And while iPads are a completely optional purchase, life-saving drugs are not. Unless, of course, you can't afford to deliver profits.
The mother of the original questioner tried once more to plead her case, explaining that she's paid $1.3 million a year to keep her son alive, and while she's willing to go bankrupt for her child, it pains her to see his friends die in the hospital because their parents cannot afford the treatment.
Finding himself in the unenviable position of defending oft-derided drug companies, Santorum stuck to his guns.
"He's alive today because drug companies thought that they would make money in providing that care and if the drug company didn't think they could make any money by providing that care, I hate to put it in these terms, but that drug wouldn't be here," he said, adding that he sympathized with the mother, "we either believe in markets or we don't."
And oh, he's totally in favor of allowing insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, so if you're already sick, he doesn't want you to get health insurance.
So you got it? If you can afford $1.3 million every year to deliver profits to big pharma and the insurance industry, then your kid can live. If you can't, then your kid dies, and that's okay, because if it's not, then you don't believe in free markets. Unless you're Canadian. Because if you are, then your kid gets to live.
USA! USA! USA!