* Obama planning big pivot to jobs? There’s an important nugget buried in this weekend’s New York Times opus about the gearing up of the Obama reelection campaign:
While Mr. Obama will not fully engage in campaign activity until next year, aides said, he is embarking on weekly economic-focused trips throughout the summer. Doing so will allow him to use his bully pulpit to show that he is focused on addressing joblessness, the issue that more than any other could shape his electoral prospects and that Republicans are using to assert that his policies have failed.
The question is what sort of policy initiatives, if any, will accompany this effort to show that Obama is “focused on addressing joblessness.” The notion of more stimulus spending, of course, has completely vanished from the conversation, and it appears the White House and Dems are merely banking on an economic turnaround.
* GOP in the grip of anti-tax “orthodoxy”: Don’t miss Lori Montgomery’s well-reported piece demonstrating how the reflexive GOP opposition to tax hikes has now completely overtaken the party’s desire to balance the budget.
Also noteworthy: This “orthodoxy” now runs so deep that even tax reform that would create new revenues is a non-starter.
* Krugman: GOP Medicare plan is “Vouchercare”: Paul Krugman’s column today — which leads with my story about the failed GOP push to get a Dem “end Medicare” ad pulled — makes his most extensive case yet for why “Vouchercare” does indeed “end Medicare.”
Expect “Vouchercare” to catch on. Also: The White House is pushing Krugman’s take, a reminder that Obama advisers really want the GOP plan to end Medicare as we know it to be central to the 2012 campaign.
* Even some Republicans use the term “voucher”: Just ask Ron Johnson, Herman Cain and Fox News.
* Dems to broaden case against GOP on Medicare: The DCCC’s new Web video features news footage of Lyndon Johnson signing Medicare into law as an elated newscaster proclaims that it passed “both houses of Congress by an overwhelming vote,” a reminder that the GOP plan would radically transform a program that has been the stuff of bipartisan consensus for over 50 years.
* Wisconsin Republicans resort to dirty tricks to delay recalls: Big news from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, which unearths proof that Wisconsin Republicans are scheming to meddle in Dem primary politics in order to delay recall elections against two engangered GOP state senators — the clearest sign yet of GOP desperation as the recalls loom.
* Mitt Romney fact check of the day: Glenn Kessler knocks down Mitt Romney’s claim that Obama’s policies have made the recession “worse.” As I noted here on Friday, Romney has responded to debunkings of this assertion by cheerfully repeating it — demonstrating anew the limits of fact checking.
* Rick Santorum for president! Santorum entered the race this morning, but his grand announcement is already being overshadowed by the fact that Santorum lost his last race by 18 points.
* Santorum attacks Ryancare ... from the right? Here’s a new one: Santorum kicked off his presidential run by claiming that Ryan’s Medicare plan wasn’t bold enough because it didn’t also take on Social Security.
* Obama back to 2008 levels with key constituencies? Ronald Brownstein reads a new poll and concludes that Obama has rebounded to near-2008 levels of support with his most important demographic groups — though the bad economy could prevent him from holding those gains, and by extension, winning reelection.
* Takedown of the day: Stephen Stromberg skewers “confused” Haley Barbour’s claim this weekend that Obama is intentionally driving up gas prices. Hey, who cares if Barbour is making it up: He’s a really savvy inside game player!
* Peter Diamond withdraws nomination: A Nobel isn’t enough to overcome GOP objections to Peter Diamond serving on the board of the Fed, reminding us again how dysfunctional our system has become.
* No end to Donald Trump’s 2012 hucksterism: Sorely needed Monday comic relief: If Republicans look like they’re on the verge of nominating a bad candidate, Trump really truly just might be open to entering the race and saving the Republicans from themselves.
* And is Medicaid on the chopping block? Dems appear increasingly unlikely to give ground on any significant Medicare cuts, but as Politico notes in a good piece, that has some insiders worried that Dems will put significant Medicaid cuts on the block. A key dynamic to watch.
What else is happening?