* The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office finds that keeping the sequester cuts through fiscal 2014 could cost up to 1.6 million jobs. As Chris Van Hollen notes, this is good timing, given Obama’s speech this week on austerity’s continuing damage to the middle class and on the coming confrontation over spending this fall.

* Paul Krugman, on why Obama’s speech was valuable, even if (as the more superficial punditry had it) some of the ideas were old:

What we got instead was a narrative, which is no small thing, since it was very much not the narrative that has been dominating Washington discourse — including Obama’s own pronouncements — for three and a half years. Gone was the deficit/Grand Bargain obsession; instead, this was about a depressed economy, suffering mainly from inadequate demand, and how to fix it.

Read the rest for Krugman’s dissection of the differences that persist with Obama within the demand-side camp.

* Philip Klein calls on fellow conservatives to stop with their needless antagonism on race, and asks them what, at bottom, was really so objectionable about Obama’s remarks on the Zimmerman verdict.

* Pro Publica offers six ways Congress can reform NSA surveillance. As I noted earlier today, what’s striking is the array of different ways lawmakers are attacking the NSA monolith; is reform inevitable?

* Good: Harry Reid lays down a hard line, insisting that the Dems’ “starting point” for any negotiations over tax reform is $975 billion in new taxes over 10 years. I guess that means the GOP demand that reform be “revenue neutral” is a non-starter.

* Also in the above link, note that this was intended as a clear message for Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, who has seemed wobbly on new revenues:

A senior Senate Democratic aide said the party leaders made such a forceful statement about their desire for significant tax increases to pressure Mr. Baucus not to stray too far in his bid to build bipartisan support for such legislation. The aide said Mr. Baucus hadn’t consistently insisted that the bill be revenue-neutral, but neither has he embraced revenue-raising goals as high as other Democrats want. “He’s going too far away from his caucus,” the aide said.

* Reality check of the day (for Dems): Harry Enten crunches the numbers and finds Republicans probably can win the White House in 2016 with a mostly-white coalition. Which would presumably mean, even if they kill immigration reform.

* Reality check of the day (for Republicans): Amy Walter crunches the numbers and finds there’s nothing really remarkable about Obama’s dip in the polls. We’ve been here before.

* Keep an eye on the Georgia GOP Senate primary. Remember, if Dems somehow manage to win this seat, Republicans need to sweep four incumbent Dems out of office to take back the Senate.

* David Roberts makes his discussion of the idea of a carbon tax entertaining, offering 10 charts showing that such a tax (which will never, ever happen as long as the GOP runs the House) would reduce emissions and not result in economic Armageddon.

* Steve King sticks with it, again calling the DREAMers “drug smugglers,” though this time there was no mention of their cantaloupe-sized calves.

* One House GOP aide’s assessment of the politics of the recent vote by most House Republicans for King’s amendment that would result in more deportations of DREAMers:

“Nightmare.”

There is a way to fix this. Pass comprehensive immigration reform.

* And speaking of King and cantaloupes, your sorely needed Thursday comic relief: Cantaloupe growers lobby Congress for immigration reform.

 

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.