* Some GOPers urge leadership to contemplate — gasp! — tax hikes: Read of the morning: Conservative Senator Tom Coburn and several other GOPers are pushing their fellow Republicans to acknowledge that additional revenues simply have to be part of the discussion about our fiscal situation if it is to be even remotely serious, creating a growing schism within the party.
The question is whether Republicans will be able to hang on to their implacable anti-tax ideology (best embodied by Grover Norquist) when the coming battle over spending — and over whether to let the Bush high end tax cuts expire — increases the pressure on them to allow the possibility of tax hikes into the discussions. More immediately, will the bipartisan “Gang of Six” — which is supposed to release its deficit reduction proposal any day now — allow high end tax hikes to be included, thus making their plan truly “bipartisan”?
* Obama, Dems want “Gang of Six” talks wrapped up: Relatedly, the White House and Senate Dems are privately pushing the “Gang of Six” to release its proposal already, suggesting Obama and Senate leaders want to use it as cover as they advance an alternative to Paul Ryan’s proposal to do away with Medicare and Medicate as we know it.
* Obama: Birthers create a “problem” for GOP: I’m pretty sure that Obama’s interview with George Stephanopoulos is the first time Obama has tied the birther issue around the neck of the whole Republican Party:
“I think that over the last two and a half years there’s been an effort to go at me in a way that is politically expedient in the short-term for Republicans. But [it] creates, I think, a problem for them when they want to actually run in a general election, where most people feel pretty confident the President was born where he says he was, in Hawaii.”
* Whose side are you on: Medicare, or millionaires? The House is set to pass Paul Ryan’s proposal today, and Harry Reid spokesman Jon Summers frames the emerging Dem message:
Today’s House vote will send a clear message about who R’s are fighting for: Medicare or Millionaires.
* Rank and file GOP confidence in Boehner “shaken”? According to Carl Hulse, House GOPers are privately saying they now have less confidence in Boehner’s leadership, in the wake of reports finding that spending deal’s cuts were far less meaningful than it first appeared.
The question is whether this will make it harder for Boeher to convince conservatives to accept a deal on raising the debt ceilingor or on the battle over Paul Ryan’s proposals, both of which have far higher stakes.
ICYMI: Jonathan Bernstein on why talk about the conservative “rebellion” on the spending bill has been way overstated.
* Obama talked very tough on Planned Parenthood: In a private talk with top donors that CBS News’s Mark Knoller listened in on, the President revealed what he told John Boehner behind the scenes about the GOP drive to defund the organization as part of the spending deal:
“Put it in a separate bill,” the president said he told Boehner and his staff. “We’ll call it up. And if you think you can overturn my veto, try it. But don’t try to sneak this through.”
* Nancy Pelosi urging Obama to stand firm on Medicare: Dana Milbank reports that before Obama gave his big speech this week, Pelosi was privately pressuring the White HOuse to draw a hard line on Medicare, because, crucially, Dems intend to campaign on it in 2012.
ICYMI: Pelosi recently advised Dems to model their Medicare messaging on the party’s 2005 victory beating back the drive to privatize Social Security. Key question: Will the Pelosi template remain the model when serious negotiations with the GOP over Medicare begin in earnest?
* Urging tax hikes on rich won’t cause immediate destruction of Democratic Party: Jim Tankersley says what must not be said: Maybe, just maybe, raising tax hikes on the rich is less politically risky than ending Medicare as we know it.
* Does economic fairness have a place in the discussion?Steven Pearlstein on how the Republican fiscal vision doesn’t allow the issue of economic fairness its rightful place in the conversation, alongside the need for fiscal discipline and government efficiency.
* How bad does the Senate map look for Democrats? Nate Silver analyzes the map and concludes that the GOP will “probably” take back the Senate, though he puts the odds at just over 50 percent. Key caveat: An unexpectly dramatic shift in the mood of the country could actually enable Dems to win seats, though a lot would have to happen to trigger such a shift.
* T-Paw keeps it up on the debt ceiling: Tim Pawlenty steps up his rhetoric demanding a deal on the debt ceiling hike, suggesting that flirting with fiscal armageddon will be a requirement in 2012 GOP hopefuls. Having GOP primary politics wrapped up in the debt ceiling debate should be really helpful!
* And lefty bloggers keep sneaking their way into the discourse: Paul Krugman gives Balloon Juice’s John Cole a shoutout.
What else is happening?