* Crunch time for government shutdown: With the deadline looming this week, negotiators on both sides are acknowledging that they’ve essentially agreed on a compromise target of $33 billion in cuts, but Congressional leaders will not announce a deal if they agree on how to achieve these cuts. Instead, they’ll present the compromise to members of their caucuses in order to gauge the level of support it can garner.
Key thing to watch: Whether House Tea Partyers will go through with their threat to reject a deal that doesn’t give them all the spending cuts they want, and if so, how leaders on both sides manage the delicate task of putting together enough votes from both parties — without alienating their own bases — to ensure its passage.
Two other remaining sticking points: Dems want the cuts to extend to “non-discretionary” spending, which Republicans reject, and GOPers want their politically charged “riders,” which Dems reject. W ith less than a week until the shutdown deadline, there are still an untold number of moving parts, making the odds of a shutdown, as Chris Van Hollen puts it, at least a “50-50 chance.”
* Big Wisconsin election this week: Tomorrow Wisconsin voters will choose a State Supreme Court justice, and the winner could help decide whether Scott Walker’s rollback of bargaining rights becomes law when, as expected, the legal challenges to it make their way to the state’s highest court.
Also: If liberal challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg succeeds in unseating conservative incumbent David Prosser, it could give momentum to the drive to recall Wisconsin GOP state senators.
* The bigger fights are still to come: Separately, GOP Rep. Paul Ryan is set to unveil a proposal for $4 trillion in cuts over a decade that would essentially end Medicare as we know it, a move that could have the paradoxical effect of enabling House conservatives to support a budget deal now that’s not to their liking, on the understanding that more radical plans are in the works for later. But it also signals that the bigger fight is yet to come.
* Will Obama step up and defend progressive government and New Deal’s legacy? With Republicans undertaking a broad assault on the foundations of liberal governance that will continue well beyond this week’s budget battle, E.J. Dionne asks the key question:
Will President Obama welcome the responsibility of engaging the country in this big argument, or will he shrink from it? Will his political advisers remain robotically obsessed with poll results about the 2012 election, or will they embrace Obama’s historic obligation — and opportunity — to win the most important struggle over the role of government since the New Deal?
* Will Dems step up and defend progressive government and New Deal’s legacy? Key question going foward: How many Congressional Dems will enable the GOP’s effort to unravel part of the New Deal’s legacy, and can the left credibly threaten them with primary challenges?
* Liberal groups keep expanding ad buy to recall Wisconsin GOPers: In another sign that the momentum of the recall drives is keeping pace, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America are now expanding their new ad’s reach to include the Minneapolis market, for the first time targeting state senator Sheila Harsdorf.
The move comes after the groups’ fundraising got a new burst of energy after the news spread on Friday that activists had collected the signatures necessary to recall state senator Dan Kapanke.
* Big Wisconsin election this week: The election for a Wisconsin state Supreme Court seat tomorrow will help determine whether Scott Walker’s rollback of bargaining rights becomes law, if and when the legal challenges to it come before the state’s highest court.
Also: If liberal challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg unseats conservative incumbent David Prosser, it will lend still more momentum to the recall drives.
* Obama kicks off reelection campaign: The President emails supporters with this new video formally announcing his run for a second term. It tries to recapture the energy of his 2008 campaign, featuring imagery of his now-distant kick-off speech in 2007 and a heavy emphasis on the young voters he needs to reenergize in advance of 2012:
The video tells supporters that they’re going to have to do their part to get revved up and can’t count on Obama to do it for them. “We’re paying him to do a job,” One woman says. “So we can’t say, ‘hey, could you just take some time off to get us all energized?’”
That neatly captures one of the crucial outstanding questions about the coming campaign — whether Obama’s grassroots supporters can bring themselves to feel they have as great a stake in Obama’s reelection as they did in his initial ascension to the presidency.
* Why 2012 GOP hopefuls are delaying entry into race: GOP leaders explain it: Having learned the lessons of 1996, they want to let the GOP Congressional leadership’s government-shutdown battle with Obama mostly run its course, and they want the eventual nominee to endure a very long nominating process to ensure he or she is battle-tested.
* Tim Kaine will reportedly run for Senate: The news that DNC chair and former Virginia governor Tim Kaine will run for retiring Jim Webb’s seat is a reminder of how pivotal winning Virginia again will be to Obama’s reelection hopes.
* Mitt Romney’s latest effort to wriggle off Romneycare hook: Romney road-tests a brand new response to Obama’s frequent claim that Romneycare was the model for the federal individual mandate: Arguing that if the President had called him for advice, he would have told him in no uncertain terms why Obamacare will be a nonstarter. Yeah, that’ll work.
* And Romney’s argument, made simple: Steve Benen boils down Romney’s pitch to conservative activists:
“That radical, communistic health care policy you hate so intensely? Don’t worry, I only did that at the state level.”
Conservatives don’t care about the distinction Romney is making: They see the mandate as tyranny, whether on the state or federal level. Romney knows this. What remains to be seen is whether Romney will make some sort of effort, at some point, to repudiate his role legitimizing the mandate as a policy tool.
What else is happening?