* Obama calls House GOP plan “radical,” ignoring pundits who are instructing him not to be “partisan”:
There had been some question over whether Obama would keep speaking in the same voice he found in his deficit reduction speech last week, but if anything, he is ramping up his efforts to draw a sharp contrast with the GOP vision as his deficit road show continues:
I think it’s fair to say that their vision is radical. No, I don’t think it’s particularly courageous...Nothing is easier than solving a problem on the backs of people who are poor or people who are powerless or don’t have lobbyists or don’t have clout.
Republicans and some non-partisan commentators say this type of talk will only alienate independents. If Obama sticks with this voice and narrative, it will be very interesting to see what the numbers look like among them down the road. Obama’s deficit tour continues today in Nevada.
* GOPers ramp up demands on debt ceiling, and the “center” shifts again:
Republicans have started laying down specific demands in exchange for a debt ceiling hike, mostly focused on changing procedure so they can get a good deal on spending cuts later.
Liberal Dems continue to demand a “clean” debt ceiling bill. But it remains unclear how committed the White House is to this approach. And it appears that Dems may again be failing to unify behind a hard enough line, even as Republicans harden their position.
Result: The position in the “center” is now a deal on the debt ceiling, despite the fact that everyone agrees that not raising it would be catastrophic for the country.
* Dems keep trying to drive wedge on debt ceiling: Chuck Schumer’s camp responds by calling on GOPers to “heed the many business leaders who are calling on Republicans to stop playing political games with the debt ceiling, in keeping with the Dem strategy of driving a wedge between business leaders and the Tea Party base.
* Why are Dems negotiating at all on debt ceiling? Digby argues that Dems have handed Republicans leverage that they never should have had at all.
* New House GOPers play an old Beltway game: T.W. Farnam digs into the fundraising reports and discovers that many of the House GOP freshmen are taking in big money from corporate PACs, despite their campaign vow to change Beltway business as usual.
* Why Obama is still the favorite in 2012: E.J. Dionne on how the GOP field’s stature deficit and the electoral map conspire to give Obama just enough maneuvering room to hold on to the White House — if the economy cooperates.
* Republicans are not terribly impressed by the 2012 GOP field: Relatedly, a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds that a whopping 56 percent of Republicans say that none of the 2012 GOP hopefuls makes them feel enthusiastic; they are all in single digits.
Key takeaway: The field is wide open, meaning that any one of them (yeesh) could plausibly win the nomination.
* Muslim-baiting a 2012 GOP primary litmus test issue: Justin Elliott does us all a service by launching a new project designed to track all the rank Muslim-bating from the 2012 GOP hopefuls.
* Conservatives keep claiming that Paul Ryan’s plan doesn’t cut taxes on the rich: Jonathan Chait takes on all their arguments, and concludes: “he and his defenders have to stop insisting that he doesn’t propose tax cuts for the rich. He indisputably does so.”
* Political time bomb of the day: While you weren’t looking, disapproval of Obama’s handling of Libya has grown sharply in the past month. Interestingly, the largest group (40 percent) opposes U.S. military action entirely, versus 32 percent who want the mission to go further and remove Gaddafi.
* Sorely needed right-wing Thursday comic relief: Andrew Breitbart gets thrown under the bus by Glenn Beck, and discovers that there’s no honor among scoundrels.
* And it’s Bachmann’s party: It’s sort of amazing that we’ve gotten to the point where Republican strategists will be relieved that Michele Bachmann acknowledged the legitimacy of the president’s birth certificate.
It’s hard to know what’s more astonishing here: That the issue is still raging out of control, with potentially catastrophic consequences for the GOP in 2012; or that Bachmann is seen to have the influence necessary to take the issue off the table.
What else is happening?