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Must-Read Op-Eds for Tuesday, February 14, 2012

THE DO-OVER DERBYBY FRANKS BRUNINEW YORK TIMESGiven all of Santorum's regressive bluster, why should he suddenly evince alarm over seeming to be out of touch wi

THE DO-OVER DERBYBY FRANKS BRUNINEW YORK TIMESGiven all of Santorum's regressive bluster, why should he suddenly evince alarm over seeming to be out of touch with the aspirations, emotions and rights of women? What's changed? The polls, for one: two new Michigan surveys show him ahead of Mitt Romney there. And his tally of victories rose last week from one (Iowa) to four (if you count Missouri). Once preposterous, his candidacy is newly plausible, giving him fresh motive to blunt some of his divisive edges. Nothing rewrites the past like pumped-up designs on the future.That has been a vivid leitmotif of the Republican contest so far. It's the Do-Over Derby, in which the only candidates not asking for a mulligan are the ones demanding dozens of them.

A RESPONSIBLE BUDGETEDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESPresident Obama’s 2013 budget was greeted on Monday with Republican catcalls that it is simply a campaign document, but election-year budgets are supposed to explain priorities to voters. ... If Congress were not dysfunctional — if it cared more about economic stabilization than scoring political points — it would sign on to a budget like this. As it is, the proposal will go nowhere, largely because of the Republican refusal to raise taxes on the wealthy and to spend money on vital programs. Senate Democrats, who don’t want to make hard political choices, also share the blame. They have already said that they do not intend to pass the president’s or their own budget, deferring their responsibility for a third year. At a time when honest economic planning needs all the support it can get, that’s a serious mistake.OBAMA'S BUDGET GAMESBY DANA MILBANKWASHINGTON POSTGene Sperling’s sports metaphors collided so often during the White House budget rollout that it’s a wonder the man didn’t pull a hamstring. ... By the end of the session with reporters, Sperling was just running up the score. “So I think this president has very much stepped up to the plate,” he concluded. All the sports talk amounted to a head fake, or perhaps a quarterback sneak, because the real game the White House was playing was dodgeball: evading anything resembling a serious budget proposal. ... [T]he rollout couldn’t have been more purely political if it had included a balloon drop.MR. OBAMA'S 2013 BUDGETEDITORIALWASHINGTON POST[T]he Obama budget recognizes that the recovering economy still needs help — not the contractionary fiscal shock that would come from letting all the Bush tax cuts expire. By one additional standard — governing reality — neither side is offering much. A disaster awaits at the end of this year, when mandated “sequesters” of federal spending will kick in because of Congress’s failure to craft a long-term debt plan. These include cuts to the defense budget that Mr. Obama’s defense secretary has warned are insupportable. Adopting the Obama budget would forestall these. But all of Washington knows that’s not going to happen in this election year. Unfortunately, we likely will have to wait until December for the real debate.THE AMAZING OBAMA BUDGETEDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALFederal budgets are by definition political documents, but even by that standard yesterday's White House proposal for fiscal year 2013 is a brilliant bit of misdirection. With the abracadabra of a tax increase on the wealthy and defense spending cuts that will never materialize, the White House asserts that in President Obama's second term revenues will soar, outlays will fall, and $1.3 trillion annual deficits will be cut in half like the lady in the box on stage. ... The political reality of budgeting is that voters should only believe what they can see, which is what politicians are proposing now. Promises of future spending cuts are a mirage. Mr. Obama needs to point to the mirage because his fiscal record is the worst in modern American history.AN AMERICAN BUDGE FOR THE RICH & POWERFULBY JEFFREY SACHSFINANCIAL TIMESMr. Obama’s policies are slightly more responsive to these realities than the Republican alternatives, but the larger truth is that a shrinking federal government will fail to meet America’s skill, education and infrastructure challenges. Even as Democrats today praise Mr. Obama and Republicans castigate him for his headline proposals to tax the rich, the budget is actually more grim news for America’s poor and working class. The poorer half of the population does not interest the Washington status quo. A third political party, occupying the vast unattended terrain of the true center and left, will probably be needed to break the stranglehold of big money on American politics and society.SANTORUM'S TURNEDITORIALNATIONAL REVIEWIt isn’t yet a Romney–Santorum contest, but it could be headed that way. We hope so. Gingrich’s verbal and intellectual talents should make him a resource for any future Republican president. But it would be a grave mistake for the party to make someone with such poor judgment and persistent unpopularity its presidential nominee. It is not clear whether Gingrich remains in the race because he still believes he could become president next year or because he wants to avenge his wounded pride: an ambiguity that suggests the problem with him as a leader. When he led Santorum in the polls, he urged the Pennsylvanian to leave the race. On his own arguments the proper course for him now is to endorse Santorum and exit.ONLY SOLUTION TO OBAMACARE'S ATTACK ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IS FULL REPEALBY JIM DEMINTREDSTATEThe contraception controversy is only the beginning of ObamaCare’s tyrannical reach into our personal lives. It is not enough for certain groups to be given “accommodations,” based on their national influence, campaign contributions or friends in high places. The next group of Americans whose freedoms are taken away may not be large enough to get their concerns on the nightly news, but their rights must be defended with equal zeal. That’s why I will fight this week for a vote on full repeal of Obamacare. To protect all Americans’ religious freedom, and every other kind, the only acceptable “reform” is for ObamaCare — the entire law – to be repealed.