* House liberals to launch “jobs tour”: Are we finally seeing that pivot to jobs? Not clear yet, but a group of House Dems is now trying to force the issue. This morning, the Congressional Progressive Caucus will announce that they are launching a 12-city summer jobs tour, in which they’ll talk to locals about how unemployment is impacting them.
Darcy Burner, the head of tour-sponsor ProgressiveCongress.org, boils down the tour’s goal: “While Washington debates deficit reduction and huge cuts to education, health care and vital services, most Americans are all asking for the same thing — jobs, jobs, jobs.” Launch video here.
It remains unclear whether there’s anything major Dems can do in policy terms to address the unemployment crisis, since many of them (the White House included) seem to have decided that more stimulus spending is a political impossiblity. But it’s good that some Dems are going to start talking about jobs in a concerted “feel your pain” kind of way.
* 2012 GOP candidates spew nonstop distortions and falsehoods: Never mind who “won” last night’s debate. The best read on the event is Glenn Kessler’s monster fact check, in which he debunks claim after claim after claim from the candidates about Obama, the economy, and health care.
Key takeaway: The candidates repeated these distortions and falsehoods even though they have already been repeatedly debunked, illustrating anew the limits of fact checking. And of course you will hear these claims literally hundreds of times for the next year and a half.
* Romney blasts Obama for nonexistent laws: Relatedly, as Steve Stromberg notes, Mitt hammered Obama for crushing the economy under the weight of cap and trade and the Employee Free Choice Act — neither of which ever passed. Oh, and government is bad!
* Obama’s “declinism” will be central to 2012 race: T-Paw left no doubt of this when he declared at the debate that Obama "is a declinist,” an assertion that seems to be based on a 2009 piece by Charles Krauthammer. As Ben Smith comments:
This view of Obama — and liberalism — is now so widespread among conservatives that I’ve heard more than one Republican politician attribute lines from Krauthammer to Obama himself.
It’s going to be a long 18 months.
* A big night for Michele Bachmann: As Dana Milbank notes, Mitt Rommey and his advisers have to be thrilled that Bachmann’s strong showing yesterday has already enabled her to grab the role of Tea Party anti-Romney.
Key takeaway: Bachmann is the perfect foil for Romney’s strategy of presenting himself as the leading non-insane alternative with the best shot of defeating Obama.
* A bad night for Pawlenty: Relatedly, David Frum says Bachmann’s breakout is terrible news for T-Paw’s hopes of grabbing the anti-Romney role, and games out the rest of the primary as follows:
Bachmann wins Iowa. Romney wins New Hampshire. Absent Perry or Ryan, the field quickly empties out. The establishment rallies to Romney. The party follows just as it did in 1988, 1996 and 2000.
* The big winner in last night’s debate: The Tea Party! Also don’t miss Ronald Brownstein’s piece explaining that last night showed that he GOP primary will unfold largely within a policy framework (if you can call it that) that has been dictated by the Tea Party.
In fairness, though, it should be pointed out that Mitt has embraced two ideas despised by the Tea Party — the individual mandate and human-created climate change — and he remains the frontrunner.
* The Very Serious Newt fizzles (again): Kevin Drum: “Gingrich was a big nothing. His calling cards are intellectual heft and creative thinking, and he showed none of that tonight. He stuttered through his answers and said nothing interesting.”
What’s amusing is that no one even expected Gingrich to be factor. At this point, people are merely tolerating him with mounting irritation.
* Wisconsin recall drives to get a new burst of momentum: Wisconsin senate Republicans are getting ready to pass the rollback of public employee bargaining rights a second time, after the first stab got tied up in court. As Eric Kleefeld notes, this is a gift for Dem efforts to keep up energy and momentum in the recall wars.
* Media still struggling to keep Weinergate alive: The New York Times devotes an entire piece to the premise that Weiner’s refusal to resign represents a test of Nancy Pelosi’s leadership — even though she has already called for an ethics probe and urged him privately and then publicly to step down.
* GOP boxes in Dem leaders on Weinergate: Eric Cantor calls on Dem leaders to start stripping Weiner of committee seats, and it’s clear the media obsession with Weiner-gate will continue to trample all over the Dem message on Medicare.
* Obama says “everybody” will sacrifice in deficit reduction deal: He tells NBC that he’s “absolutely confident” that a deficit deal is within reach that willl require that “everybody makes some sacrifices.” Keep an eye on who sacrifices how much — the outlines of the deal may be clear as early as this week.
* Can GOP bring itself to eliminate tax breaks? Worth watching: The Senate GOP will vote today on whether to end $6 billion in annual ethanol subsidies, and the anti-tax brigade is laughably labeling this proposal a tax hike. This vote is key to whether other tax breaks can pass as part of a deficit reduction deal.
* Can Obama secure a payroll tax cut in deficit deal? It looks increasingly like he’s committed to making it happen — and while that would be good news, it’s also a reminder of how modest expecations have become for action on unemployment.
* And the anti-gay marriage dead enders grow more and more desperate: Dahlia Lithwick brings us up to date on the slimy and desperate effort by Prop 8 supporters to disqualify a judge because he’s too gay to rule fairly.
What else is happening?