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Must-Read Op-Eds for Friday, February 17, 2012

MOOCHERS AGAINST WELFAREBY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESThe truth, of course, is that the vast bulk of entitlement spending goes to the elderly, the disabled, and

MOOCHERS AGAINST WELFAREBY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESThe truth, of course, is that the vast bulk of entitlement spending goes to the elderly, the disabled, and working families, so any significant cuts would have to fall largely on people who believe that they don’t use any government program. The message I take from all this is that pundits who describe America as a fundamentally conservative country are wrong. Yes, voters sent some severe conservatives to Washington. But those voters would be both shocked and angry if such politicians actually imposed their small-government agenda.

CHINA IS SERIOUS ABOUT ITS DIRECTION, WHY AREN'T WE?BY EUGENE ROBINSONWASHINGTON POSTWe hear a lot of China-bashing on the campaign trail. Yes, there’s plenty to criticize — currency manipulation, intellectual piracy, the appalling veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for the ouster of the murderous Assad regime in Syria. What we’re not hearing is a serious debate about farsighted reforms that are needed to keep the United States from falling behind. If we are to thrive in a changing world, singing “America the Beautiful” isn’t enough.

THE JEREMY LIN PROBLEMBY DAVID BROOKSNEW YORK TIMESJeremy Lin is now living this creative contradiction. Much of the anger that arises when religion mixes with sport or with politics comes from people who want to deny that this contradiction exists and who want to live in a world in which there is only one morality, one set of qualities and where everything is easy, untragic and clean. Life and religion are more complicated than that.SMALL THINKINGEDITORIALNEW YORK TIMES[Santorum] says the nation’s civil laws must comport with God’s laws. But not the laws of all religions. “Where do you think this concept of equality comes from?” he asked in South Carolina last month. “It doesn’t come from Islam. It doesn’t come from the East and Eastern religions. It comes from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Unlike his main rivals for the nomination, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, Mr. Santorum has held these kinds of views for many years, and is a far more authentic representative of the Republican Party’s angry base. But he does not represent the American mainstream, or its tradition of confronting big problems with big ideas.PRESIDENT OBAMA'S GIMMICKY BUDGET WOULD COMMIT THE U.S. TO DECLINEBY PAUL RYAN AND JEFF SESSIONSWASHINGTON POSTIn dealing with the most predictable economic crisis in our nation’s history, [President Obama and his party's leaders] have decided to duck behind an empty promise and hope that those they serve don’t notice. The good news, of course, is that citizens are noticing, and they will have the final say. The American people demand leaders who take seriously their legal and moral obligations to put forward credible budget plans. In the House and Senate budget committees, we will continue to work with our colleagues — from both parties, where possible — to advance bold solutions that lift our crushing burden of debt and ensure a future of opportunity, growth and prosperity. If this president refuses to lead, the American people will be given an opportunity to chart a new way forward to ensure a new era of prosperity, for this generation and for generations to come.MITT ROMNEY-- CAMPAIGNER WITHOUT A CAUSEBY MICHAEL GERSONWASHINGTON POST[A] humiliating loss in Michigan would shatter Romney’s fragile front-runner status. At that point, an advantage in money would mean little. A purely financial argument for inevitability means that a candidate is not inevitable. Which highlights Romney’s deeper problem. His campaign is very good at tactics. It has taken each challenger, found his weakness and pounded it home. But Romney’s candidacy remains short on aspiration. His public appeal, at this point, is a combination of emphasizing his business experience, criticizing Obama’s record and reassuring conservatives. This is a campaign — but not a cause.HOW HONEST IS 'HONEST ABE'?BY PEGGY NOONANWALL STREET JOURNALAnd now there's no place to hide. All screens are on. What remedies might ease this situation will have no impact on 2012. What about self-policing? You there, political consultant, genius ad cutter, sitting at your laptop reviewing the images and the script. Are you making a brutal ad to take the enemy down? Are you thinking of anything but your status as an effective guru and your pay? Are you thinking at all of the net effects of your dark work? No? Then a curse upon you as you hit "save" and "send." May your hand be palsied. May it lose its power.IRAN VERSES EVERYONEEDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALThe larger story is that Iran is coming close to openly making war on the country it wants to wipe off the map. That's an escalation from the more veiled (and often more deadly) warfare the Islamic Republic has waged against Israeli and Jewish targets for decades. It's also an indication that the mullahs, far from seeking to de-escalate tensions with the West, are scrapping for a fight. ... It is in nobody's interest, least of all America's, to see a regional war erupt in the Middle East. It is even less in America's interests to back our allies in Jerusalem into a corner where they feel they have no choice other than to fight, as they did in 1967. An Iran that seeks to murder diplomats across the globe is a threat to global security. The U.S. has an even larger interest than Israel in stopping it.