* Underplayed story of the day: Why isn’t it a bigger deal that Fed chairman Ben Bernanke warned yesterday that deep short-term spending cuts risk harming the recovery? Here’s what Bernanke said:

A sharp fiscal consolidation focused on the very near term could be self-defeating if it were to undercut the still-fragile recovery. The solution to this dilemma, I believe, lies in recognizing that our nation’s fiscal problems are inherently long-term in nature. Consequently, the appropriate response is to move quickly to enact a credible, long-term plan for fiscal consolidation. By taking decisions today that lead to fiscal consolidation over a longer horizon, policymakers can avoid a sudden fiscal contraction that could put the recovery at risk.

You’d think that having a Republican Fed chairman say this would show how misguided the current bipartisan short-term deficit-austerity-cut-cut-cut mania has become.

Steve Benen also caught the real news here, noting that Bernanke “made clear that pulling money out of the economy when it’s struggling to recover” is a “spectacularly bad idea.”

* Senate Republicans want $2.5 trillion in cuts NOW: Relatedly, Jon Kyl names the Senate GOP’s price for a debt ceiling hike. Kyl also warned that negotiators in deficit talks could fall short of that amount of cuts by the time the government begins defaulting on loans. And then what?

* High disapproval of Obama’s handling of economy, deficit: Gallup releases the second major national poll this week finding that all the chatter about the deficit has done absolutely nothing to help Obama’s approval on the economy — or on the deficit.

Key point: The disapproval numbers on the economy and the deficit are almost identical.

This mirrors yesterday’s Post poll, and again underscores the likelihood that the public’s anxiety about the deficit is a proxy for anxiety about the economy.

* Obama to face mounting pressure on Afghan war: This Karen DeYoung scoop is a very big deal: A new report from a Dem-controlled Senate committee concludes that the hugely expensive Afghan nation building effort has had limited success and must be rethought. This will likely lead to far louder calls from Dems — who are already angry about the war’s mounting costs — for a major shift in strategy.

* If Obama loses in 2012, a too-small stimulus will be to blame: Harold Meyerson throws down the gauntlet in advance:

When historians look back at how Barack Obama lost the 2012 election — or won it only because the Republicans nominated a certifiable space case — they will doubtless focus on his first few months in office and ponder why he didn’t do more to stanch the recession and arrest the downward mobility of the American people.

* Dems harden stance on Medicare: Sam Baker identifies a key dynamic: In the wake of the big NY-26 victory, Democratic leaders are drawing a much harder line than before against any cuts to Medicare benefits.

The question now: Will that also be the White House’s position in the Biden-led deficit reduction talks?

* How much longer for Anthony Weiner? Karen Tumulty and Paul Kane have the latest: Weiner now faces an ethics investigation, political heat from Republicans and a storm of pressure from within the Dem caucus to step down — and it’s far from clear whether he has the crisis management skills to weather it all.

* Calls for Weiner’s resignation mount: A very tough editorial in Newsday blasts Weiner’s “creepiness,” his “reputation as a bully,” his ”sheer ineffectiveness,” and his “astonishingly poor judgment.” And that’s only in the first few sentences.

* Weiner’s mayoral hopes are kaput: Meanwhile, a Marist poll finds that a solid majority of New Yorkers, 56 percent, don’t want him to run for Mayor, and even worse, 64 percent think he only apologized because he got caught.

* Wisconsin Republicans rush radical agenda before recalls: Wisconsin GOPers are jamming through a whole series of radical initiatives with unusual speed and urgency, yet another sign that they know they very likely may lose control of the state senate.

* Tim Pawlenty versus Abraham Lincoln: Very interesting post by David Frum on how T-Paw’s vision of the economy and human society is at odds with that of the greatest of all Republicans.

* Jon Huntsman bets it all on New Hampshire: Real Clear Politics, which has been doing more original reporting lately, has an interesting look at Huntsman’s effort to win New Hampshire by stressing his opposition to ethanol subsidies and willlingness to (gasp) consider defense cuts — a state he must do well in if he has any hope of competing with frontrunner Mitt Romney.

* And is Newt still running for president? Tweet of the day, from Chuck Todd:

Gingrich’s latest column criticizes Obama for not doing more on housing but check out his econ plan, nothing on housing

The Very Serious Newt continues to make it up on the fly. Sincere question: Is Gingrich still running for president? Does anyone know?