* So far 40 House Dems and counting have signed that letter from last week drawing a hard line against any entitlements benefits cuts, a House Dem source tells me. More signers equals more leverage.

* Mitch McConnell’s new debt ceiling proposal seems designed to force Dems to repeatedly vote to raise it in the run-up to Election Day 2012.

* One wonders if the timing of McConnell’s proposal has anything to do with the fact that a slew of powerful business groups today issued their sternest demand yet that the debt ceiling be hiked.

* Could McConnell’s blink mean that Dems -- gasp! — have the upper hand on taxes?

* David Corn boils down the proposal: “McConnell to Obama: You drive, we’ll carp.”

* Markos Moulitsas on why the McConnell proposal represents capitulation.

* Good point from Taegan Goddard: “Doesn’t it seem the McConnell proposal angers the GOP base more than closing tax loopholes to raise revenue?”

* Now that John Boehner is claiming the debt ceiling is Obama’s problem, Steve Benen wraps up all the times Boehner previously admitted not raising it could cause national catastrophe.

* Atrios, on the folly of the debt ceiling grand bargain:

Governing by crisis is an undemocratic way for our overlords to try to avoid accountability.

* Obama goes there, warning that he can’t guarantee retirees their Social Security checks if the debt ceiling standoff remains unresolved.

* DCCC chair Steve Israel, in an interview, previewing the Dem argument about GOP extremism heading into 2012: “These guys want to close down government as an ideology, as a theocracy, and that’s what so dangerous here.”

* Paul Krugman demolishes David Brooks’s chin-stroking claim that believing government can help turn the economy around is “magical thinking.”

* And the Wisconsin recall primaries today are the first step in a process that will signal which way the political winds are blowing in a key swing state with major national implications for 2012.

What else is going on?

UPDATE: Interestingly, Chuck Todd is now reporting that the White House considers the McConnell plan as an “active” fallback option.

UPDATE II: White House press secretary Jay Carney responds to McConnell’s proposal with an insistence that the parties must continue trying to reach a deal, quasi-rejecting the idea, but not ruling it out entirely:

Senator McConnell’s proposal today reaffirmed what leaders of both parties have stated clearly, that defaulting on America’s past due bills is not an option. The President continues to believe that our focus must remain on seizing this unique opportunity to come to agreement on significant, balanced deficit reduction. As the President has said, “If not now, when?” It is time for our leaders to find common ground and reduce our deficit in a way that will strengthen our economy.