* How serious is Obama about hanging tough in debt talks? Was Obama’s tough talk at his press conference a sign that he’s genuinely going to keep insisting on real revenue increases from Republicans, or just a way to mollify the Dem base in advance in preparation for the bad deal he knows we’ll all have to swallow eventually? That’s the question that many Dems are gaming out right now as the debt talks grow more urgent, and it appears the insider “smart money” is on the latter.
* Uh, hello press corps? Romney has now flip-flopped on a central campaign message: Kudos to NBC for pressing Mitt Romney yesterday to justify his continuing claim that Obama made the recession “worse,” something he kept repeating even after it was repeatedly knocked down by independent fact-checkers.
It got Romney to backtrack from his position: “I didn’t say that things are worse.”
I’m with Steve Benen: Why is this not a bigger deal this morning? Romney is now insisting that he never made the claim that was quite literally one of his central campaign messages until yesterday. This is far more important than any silly little error Michele Bachmann makes about regional trivia.
* Obama proposes $400 billion in revenue increases: The White House is privately pushing Republicans to agree to end an array of tax breaks that total $400 billion — for hedge fund managers, corporate jet owners and the like — as part of a deal to reach $2 trillion in reductions, most of which will be achieved through spending cuts.
My handy Plum Line calculator tells me that under this deal, Dems would get a sum of new revenues that would be almost comically dwarfed by the spending cuts the GOP would get.
* The new drop-dead date for debt ceiling talks: Dems have concluded they must have a deal by July 22nd, because they’ll need the remaining time until August 2nd to write the bill and pass it.
My handy Plum Line calendar tells me Dems have exactly 21 days — three weeks — to persuade the GOP to agree to new revenues or to cave.
* Default really could happen: Paul Krugman says those who think the GOP won’t put the global economy in peril rather than agree to any revenue increases don’t understand the true nature of today’s GOP, and says that Obama must not buckle if there’s any hope of putting an end to this kind of blackmail.
* But Democrats remain optimistic: Despite all the public chest-thumping, Dem leaders privately say they think both sides are in a new phase where they’re quietly trying to gauge what sort of compromise their rank and file officials are willing to support.
* It’s getting tense behind the scenes: It seems Obama got tough with Mitch McConnell at their private meeting the other day, and McConnell didn’t like it one bit.
* Is debt ceiling unconstitutional? A number of legal experts are now saying there’s a meaningful case to be made that the 14th Amendment renders the debt ceiling unconstitutional, which would resolve the problem, but going this route could trigger a constitutional crisis.
Also: For those who like going deep into the legal weeds, Jack Balkin brings you a legislative history of the relevant constitutional provision.
* Keep an eye on Obama’s fundraising numbers: They are due out any day now, and the key metric to watch is whether he’ll make a strong showing with small donors, which will indicate whether the grassroots energy behind Obama is anything like it was in 2008.
Also: The numbers posted by the 2012 GOP hopefuls will be a useful early sign of who is genuinely likely to be able to compete with frontunner Mitt Romney.
* Conservatives have made a joke of our campaign finance system: Never mind Stephen Colbert. As Dana Milbank details, the torrents of secret cash from the Rove-founded Crossroads group has done more to make a mockery of our campaign finance system than Colbert ever could.
* The conservative view of “class warfare”: Conservative media figures are having a grand old time accusing Obama of “class warfare” because he wants to end the tax break for corporate jet owners. As it happens, ending that tax break would only save a trivial $3 billion. But it’s still unclear why it’s not “class warfare” to insist on keeping that tax break while calling for fixing the deficit through cuts to Medicare and Medicaid that will disproportionately impact the non-wealthy.
* And Obama got GOPers to defend corporate jet tax break: If Obama’s goal in hammering away at that point was to get GOP officials to publicy defend it en masse, he certainly seems to have succeeded.
What else is happening?