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In today's pages: Medicare, Gingrich and tax reform [UPDATED]

September 22, 2009 | 12:43 pm


What if instead of calling it the "public option," supporters of heath care reform simply referred to their effort to expand insurance to all Americans as "Medicare"? To be more specific, author Theodore Roszak proposes on today's Op-Ed page that reformers simply expand Medicare so that people of all ages could qualify, not just seniors. It's an existing, well-trusted program that already exists, so expanding it would quell much of the political opposition.

Former Times staff writer Johanna Neuman polled Washington insiders for the cause of today's hyper-partisanship in the Capitol, and names the most-cited culprit: Newt Gingrich. The architect of the Republican takeover of Congress in the mid-1990s also changed the congressional calendar and urged Republican lawmakers to spend their weekends at home, not mingling with colleagues of both parties in D.C. as they'd done before.

Updated at 1:05 p.m.: Neuman will discuss her Op-Ed on the "Michael Smerconish Show" at 7 a.m. EDT Wednesday, in case you're up that early and want to listen online. Or if you're in Philadelphia.

Columnist Jonah Goldberg eulogizes the "godfather of neoconservatism" Irving Kristol, who died last week at 89 -- and who had a major impact on Goldberg's political thinking.

On the Editorial Page, The Times examines the much-delayed work of the blue-ribbon panel trying to reimagine California's tax structure, and wonders if it might be a little too innovative. Its business receipt tax might not stand up to legal scrutiny, and its attempts to decrease revenue volatility appear to come at the expense of the poor and middle class.

We also address the backfiring strategy of seven former CIA directors who sent a letter to President Obama urging him to abort a Justice Department inquiry into torture... er, enhanced interrogation techniques... by the CIA under the Bush administration. The directors seem not to have realized that they were asking the president to abandon his assurances that Atty. Gen. Eric Holder would put the law above loyalty to the White House. The unintended result: Obama was forced to renew his promise, the opposite of the outcome they wanted.

And on the tangled question of Net neutrality, we weigh in on the side of new FCC chief Julius Genachowski, who wants to develop new rules governing what Internet service providers can do with the data that travels through their networks. Without such rules, the major phone and Internet companies have too much power to quash innovation in the name of "managing congestion."

Cartoon by Tom Toles / Washington Post

-- Dan Turner


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