* If Obama reinforces GOP frame on Medicare, it will harm Dem chances in 2012: Today’s Times reports that Republicans are worried that Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposals could be used against them in the 2012 Congressional elections. But perhaps the most interesting paragraph in the piece is this one, in which GOPers say that if the President agrees big changes are necessary, he could help mitigate the political fallout for Republicans:

Republicans say the willingness to talk about entitlement changes could reinforce the Republican claim that steps need to be taken to preserve Medicare, limiting the ability of Democrats to attack and making the debate mainly about what the steps should be.

Dem strategists at the party committees are vowing to use Paul Ryan’s proposals to tar GOP candidates as extreme and to draw a sharp contrast between the parties. But if the President doesn’t draw a hard line in defense of the program, it will muddle this effort. Nancy Pelosi, by the way, agrees: She recently said the secret to the Dem victory in the 2005 Social Security fight was that Dems didn’t take the GOP’s bait by agreeing that big changes were necessary, which would have “confused the public” and shifted the debate to the GOP’s turf.

* The dual purposes of Obama’s big deficit reduction speech: The Post has a preview of tomorrow’s speech, and it appears it will have two goals: Premise his approach to deficit reduction on the bipartisan debt commission, in an effort to present his own approach as a responsible, middle-ground alternative to Paul Ryan’s vision, one that genuinely spreads the pain around evenly.

But at the same time, a key goal is to win over Republicans, by persuading them the President is serious about deficit reduction and deeper spending cuts, in hopes of enticing them to vote to raise the debt ceiling.

Details are still in short supply, and how these two goals will be reconciled remains to be seen.

* White House open to debt ceiling deal: Meanwhile, it appears the White House is signaling openness to the possibility of a compromise that would link a debt ceiling vote to promises of deeper spending cuts. Dems had hoped for a debt ceiling vote without conditions, so while details are scarce, this appears to be heading towards another concession.

* GOP stands firm on debt ceiling: The White House’s apparent openness to a deal on the debt ceiling stands in stark contrast to the GOP’s laying down of a hard line: Eric Cantor has ruled out a no-conditions vote on raising it, insisting the hike be accompanied by spending cuts.

* Why the spending fight’s stakes are so high for Obama: He needs to restore a sense that he’s a leader on fiscal matters but the question remains whether he will do this by strongly articulating a vision for the role of government that sharply contrasts with the GOP one.

* The real lesson of the Clinton years: Relatedly, ICYMI: What Bill Clinton did in his Medicare standoff with Newt.

Also: Joan McCarter on the Clinton template Obama should be using .

* Liberal Dem vows to make Obama “act like a Democrat”: Dem Rep. Peter DeFazio, on Cent Uygur’s show last night, gave voice to a rising sense on the left that the President’s willingness to compromise with Republicans has left him unwilling or unable to stand up for what it fundamentally means to be a Democrat.

“There are a number of us in the caucus now who are pushing back very hard on our leadership, DeFazio said. “Maybe we can take enough Ds with us to make them stick with making the president act like a Democrat.”

* GOP won the budget showdown, part 973: Now that details are emerging about the $38 billion in cuts, it’s becoming clear that the majority of them hit education, labor and health programs long targeted by Republicans.

* But Dems did succeed in raising money off the shutdown threat: The DCCC, in a glass-half-full kind of moment, boasts that the shutdown fight brought in more than $200,000 in the final 24 hours.

* The real goal of spending cuts: According to Eugene Robinson: “The far right ideologues in the House seek to starve the federal government to the point where it can no longer fulfill its constitutional duty to promote the general welfare.” What’s the Dem response? Anyone?

* Still waiting for Obama to act on guns: The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is rolling out a new 30-second ad on national cable calling on Obama to take stronger action to ban the sort of high-capacity ammo clip used in the Arizona shooting.

* And Obama is probably not a very good poker player: Jon Chait despairs at the administration’s apparent willingness to signal openness to a debt ceiling deal at the outset of negotiations.

What else is happening?