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Must-Read Op-Eds for Wednesday, February 22, 2012

THE REAL 'DOC FIX'EDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESThe reform law has created a slew of pilot projects, and some experts believe the country should wait to see how those

THE REAL 'DOC FIX'EDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESThe [Medicare] reform law has created a slew of pilot projects, and some experts believe the country should wait to see how those turn out. But the leverage that would come with establishing a new Medicare reimbursement system should not be wasted. Congress should establish a fee schedule that pays doctors more if they leave fee-for-service and form organizations that will coordinate care or take on the financial risk of managing a patient's care for a year at a fixed fee. That will take away the incentive to perform numerous costly, unneeded services. And it would be the start of a real fix for the rising cost of Medicare.RICK'S RELIGIOUS FANATICISMBY MAUREEN DOWDNEW YORK TIMESRick is casting doubt on issues of women's health and safety that were settled a long time ago. We're supposed to believe that if he got more power he'd drop his crusade? ... He seems to have decided that electoral gold lies in the ruthless exploitation of social and cultural wedge issues. Unlike the Bushes, he has no middle man to pander to prejudices; he turns the knife himself. Why is it that Republicans don't want government involved when it comes to the economy (opposing the auto bailouts) but do want government involved when it comes to telling people how to live their lives? In a party always misty for bygone times bristling with ugly inequities, Santorum is successful because he's not ashamed to admit that he wants to take the country backward.

THE TRIALS OF SAINT SANTORUMBY KATHLEEN PARKERWASHINGTON POSTWhen [Santorum] says that he doesn’t think the government should fund prenatal testing because it leads to abortion, this is emotional Santorum, father of a disabled child and another who died hours after a premature birth. ... Though Santorum’s views are certainly controversial, his biggest problem isn’t that he is out of step with mainstream America. His biggest problem is that he lacks prudence in picking his battles and his words. The American people are loath to elect a preacher or a prophet to lead them out of the desert of unemployment. And they are justified in worrying how such imprudence might translate in areas of far graver concern than whether Santorum doesn’t personally practice birth control.SANTORUM CRIES NAZIBY DANA MILBANKWASHINGTON POSTIn [Santorum's] unsuccessful 2006 campaign, he often invoked Churchill’s “gathering storm” phrase and compared Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Hitler. He also called for more active use of the term “Islamic fascism.” Last year, Santorum warned that if the Muslim Brotherhood prevails in Egyptian elections, it would be like the Nazis winning in 1933: “That was the last democratic election.” When used on Ahmadinejad or the Muslim Brotherhood, the Nazi talk is provocative, but defensible. When used on an American president and a rival political party, it shows an alarming lack of perspective.DEMOCRATS MUST CHASE INDEPENDENTS TO WINBY RUTH MARCUSWASHINGTON POSTDemocrats, both activist and everyday voters, have stayed in essentially the same ideological place over the years. ... [They] are a distinctly purple party with blue leadership. Republicans are a uniformly red party becoming redder by the year. Those clashing palettes frame the parties’ very different challenges. Democrats need to align liberal activists with more moderate supporters. Republicans must attract enough moderate voters without alienating an increasingly conservative base. The Democratic mission is more achievable — if, that is, the party chooses to accept it.OBAMA'S DIVIDEND ASSAULTEDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALPresident Obama's 2013 budget is the gift that keeps on giving—to government. One buried surprise is his proposal to triple the tax rate on corporate dividends, which believe it or not is higher than in his previous budgets. Mr. Obama is proposing to raise the dividend tax rate to the higher personal income tax rate of 39.6% that will kick in next year. ... If you reverse the policy, you reverse the incentives. The tripling of the dividend tax will have a dampening effect on these payments.THE EFFRONTERY OF RICK SANTORUMBY RICH LOWRYNATIONAL REVIEWSantorum is a standing affront to the sensibilities and assumptions of the media and political elite. That elite is constantly writing the obituary for social conservatism, which is supposed to wither away and leave a polite, undisturbed consensus in favor of social liberalism. Santorum not only defends beliefs that are looked down upon as dated and unrealistic; he does it with a passionate sincerity that opens him to mockery and attack. ... Santorum occasionally needs to curb his enthusiasms. But the implicit message of his candidacy is unassailable: Denounce and dismiss it as you please; American social conservatism is here to stay.PRINCIPLE AS POLITICAL LIABILITY: EVEN REAGAN UNDERSTOOD ITBY ERICK ERICKSONRED STATEI never said that the candidates should abandon their principles. They should not. But they sure also shouldn’t scare the heck out of independent voters by fixating on their personal positions. For example, Santorum says his position on birth control is a personal one. As a legislator, he never opposed legislation relating to contraceptives. But why spend so much time focusing on his personal view when he makes clear he wouldn’t impose it on others But back to Reagan. There is a well-established myth about St. Reagan that he said what he meant and he meant what he said with unvarnished truth. Actually, that was Barry Goldwater and Goldwater lost. Badly. Reagan said what he meant and he meant what he said, but he did so smiling, laughing, and with a lot of fun. And he spoke in a way that was not off putting to independent voters.