* In the wake of the House GOP’s payroll tax cut extension concession today, Dems are mulling a procedural trick to force the GOP’s hand on unemployment benefits, a sign they think they’ve got the leverage.
* Sam Stein on how Obama’s budget represents a clear shift from the politics of austerity (which are so 2011!) to the politics of recovery and reelection.
* Indeed, the pro-Romney Super PAC is going up with a $600,000 buy in Michigan, despite his deep ties in the state.
* Yet as Taegan Goddard notes, the Romney Super PAC’s first round of ads appears to be attacking ... the Incredible Shrinking Newt.
* Amy Walter on why Romney can’t launch an all out attack on Santorum without falling into a familiar trap, in which the negativity drags him down. And Romney’s dilemma continues to deepen.
* Ezra Klein sounds the alarm:
The mounting danger for Romney is that his candidacy will lose its central justification: That he’s the most electable Republican in the field. Readers know I’ve long been bullish on Romney’s prospects, but if Santorum can pull out a win in Michigan, and Romney’s numbers keep sliding, it becomes hard to see how he pulls this out.
* As does David Frum: “If Americans get the idea that a vote for Romney is a vote for the Ryan plan, Romney is more or less doomed.”
* National Review calls on Newt to drop out and let Santorum have his shot at being the leading not-Romney. Watch for more of this as an indication of whether conservatives are settling on Santorum as their true not-Romney alternative.
* Correction: This morning I identified Brad Schneider, a Dem candidate for Illinois’ 10th district, as a Blue Dog, but in fact the Blue Dog PAC has not endorsed him. Apologies for the error.
* It’s surprising that this needs to be pointed out, but as Digby notes, Obama’s failure to cut the deficit did not occur in complete isolation from the behavior of the other major party in Washington.
* And as Steve Benen notes, on marriage equality, the arc of history is bending towards justice in Washington state:
The head of Focus on the Family was asked last year about same-sex marriage, and he practically conceded defeat, saying, “We’ve probably lost that.” I’m very much inclined to agree. Most of the country now believes two consenting adults should be legally permitted to get married if they want to.