If Santorum is looking for ‘more people’…

IF SANTORUM IS LOOKING FOR ‘MORE PEOPLE’…. Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R), still promoting his nascent presidential campaign, is happiest when he can combine social conservatism with fiscal conservatism. Yesterday, he did his best to do both.

In a radio interview, the far-right Pennsylvanian said Social Security would be in better shape if only America had “more people.” And we’d have “more people,” Santorum said, if only abortion were illegal.

“The Social Security system, in my opinion, is a flawed design, period,” Santorum told a New Hampshire audience. “But having said that, the design would work a lot better if we had stable demographic trends….. [W]e don’t have enough workers to support the retirees. Well, a third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion.”

I can’t speak to the accuracy of Santorum’s preferred statistics — though I find them dubious — and the notion that the United States has unstable demographic trends is itself an unreliable argument.

But putting that aside, if Santorum believes Social Security should be bolstered by “more people,” there’s a fairly obvious solution.

Santorum is correct that you can accurately describe Social Security’s long-term projected solvency problems as the gap between smaller younger generations and a very large baby boom generation headed toward retirement. The payroll taxes younger people pay will get used up faster by the boomers and he’s right: one solution to that is to simply have more workers paying payroll taxes. […]

But If Santorum wants to address Social Security by increasing the younger, working population, isn’t there a more immediate, direct answer? Homeland Security says 392,862 immigrants were deported in the fiscal year 2010. There’s no certainty that all of those people would make for participating, tax-paying citizens — DHS claims that half of those deported were criminals — but there are millions of people in the world who would love nothing more than to move to America and work. Thousands more are already here illegally, working off the books and paying no payroll taxes. Opening the borders is a very straightforward way to get “more people.” But I wouldn’t hold your breath for Santorum to endorse immigration reform.

This really isn’t complicated. If there’s a population growth shortfall, and that poses institutional problems, then the answer is to fill it. We can’t un-terminate pregnancies, but we can bring in plenty of people — from a variety of countries — who are anxious to work in our country and pay taxes into our system.

So, Santorum thinks we “don’t have enough workers to support the retirees,” a contention plenty of conservatives agree with. Are they serious about addressing the problem or aren’t they?