* Dems hit back against onslaught of secret conservative money: Here’s the first clear sign that Democrats are determined not to let the onslaught of conservative ads funded by secret cash go unanswered, as they did in 2010 to their own detriment.
The Dem group Priorities USA is up with a new spot directly responding to the Rove-founded Crossroads GPS ad onslaught hitting Obama on the economy. The spot stresses three key points that will be central to the Dems’ 2012 messaging: Republicans have opposed economic reform at every turn; they would end Medicare; and they are trying to preserve tax breaks for oil companies and the rich:
The ad buy, I’m told, is roughly $750,000, a fraction of what Crossroads is spending, but Priorities USA is trying to compensate for this by airing the spot in five targeted states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina and Virginia — and in markets that speak directly to swing voters.
This ad will ignite a new round of charges of Dem hypocrisy, so again: It is a matter of simple, incontrovertible fact that Democrats tried to pass the Disclose Act last cycle, which would have stopped these ads on both sides. Republicans killed it in the Senate. Dems have not changed their position on secret outside money: They would halt these ads tomorrow if the other side agreed to do the same. Not responding in kind would amount to unilateral disarmament.
* Dems engaged in fierce debate over how Obama should handle economy: A fascinating argument has broken out between pollster Stan Greenberg and Obama strategist David Axelrod over how far Obama should go in claiming that the economy is turning around. Key quote from Axelrod:
“Nobody is hanging a mission accomplished sign on the economy.”
* Senate Dems still failing to draw hard line in debt talks: As Sam Stein reports, Senate Democrats have still not laid down a hard line on what ratio of cuts to revenues they consider unacceptable, which has allowed Republicans to drag the debate ever rightward by laying down markers and refusing to budge.
* But they seem to be holding firm on Medicare: It’s a good sign that top Democrats quickly rejected the Tom Coburn/Joe Lieberman Medicare plan, since it signals they may hold the line against Medicare benefits cuts.
* Another House GOPer softening support for Medicare plan? GOP Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, who’s been taking heat in her upstate New York district over the GOP Medicare plan, is now telling constituents it’s a “place to start the discussion,” which has emerged as a stock answer for Republicans who don’t want to be seen fully embracing the proposal.
* Obama faces another test on marriage equality: The President is set to host a Gay Pride reception tonight, where he will greet many advocates who are excited by the big New York breakthrough but continue to be angry and confused by Obama’s refusal to complete his evolution on the issue.
* But Obama won’t “evolve” until after the 2012 election: As Dana Milbank drolly puts it:
People familiar with White House deliberations on the topic tell me they expect no further evidence of Obama’s “evolution” before next year’s elections.
* Marriage equality toxic in the swing states? Devin Dwyer cuts through the BS and explains what Obama’s refusal to evolve is really about: Not alienating swing voters in battleground states.
* Dems leading in two key Wisconsin recall races: New polling sponsored by Daily Kos finds Dems ahead in two recall races, another sign that Dems may succeed in taking back the state senate. Expect lots of outside cash to start flowing in these races any day now.
* T-Paw emerging as the neocon candidate? Matt Duss on how Tim Pawlenty’s strident foreign policy speech yesterday shows he’s trying to carve out a neoconservative space for himself in an increasingly isolationist 2012 GOP field.
* Bachmann failing to soften her Tea Party edge: Now that Bachmann is running for president, Bachmann is trying to appear a bit more moderate on everything from Obama’s patriotism to the minimum wage, but she’s not doing a particularly good job of disguising her true radicalism.
* And another Bachmann TEA-pocrisy alert: Great scoop by Michael Isikoff:
While Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., has forcefully denounced the Medicaid program for swelling the “welfare rolls,” the mental health clinic run by her husband has been collecting annual Medicaid payments totaling over $137,000 for the treatment of patients since 2005, according to new figures obtained by NBC News.
The point, as always, is that this sort of Tea-pocrisy won’t damage Bachmann’s standing as the Tea Party’s warrior queen. That’s because many Tea Partyers cheerfully benefit from government assistance themselves even as they regularly rail at evil Big Government programs that help people other than them.
What else is happening?