* Obama jobs bill is defeated, but White House gets positioning it wanted:

Two separate but related things happened last night that perfectly frame what the 2012 election will be all about.

Yesterday in the Senate, Republicans — joined by two Dems — unanimously blocked passage of Obama’s jobs bill, even though a majority of the Senate wanted to act. While this was a defeat for Obama, it also gave the White House the positioning it wants for the next phase of this fight, in which Obama will now pressure Congress to take a stand on individual pieces of his plan. Which is to say, Obama will pressure Congress to reveal whether it’s willing to take any action at all at a time of nine percent unemployment and mass economic suffering and anxiety.

Meanwhile, the Republican candidates met for a debate last night, and they uniformly agreed on one thing: Government is the problem, and must be rolled back on multiple fronts if we are to have any hope of a recovery.

And so, the White House, facing certain defeat on the jobs bill, at least established a baseline for the 2012 fight, which will be all about a simple question: Can and should our public officials act to bring relief to the American people at a time of national crisis? Or should government simply move out of the way and let the private sector right itself of its own accord?

* Dems salvage something from the jobs bill wreckage: So now we know why it was so important for Dems to win a majority in favor of the Obama jobs bill, as Dems did manage to do last night. They fell far short of breaking the GOP filibuster. But while many accounts this morning claim this was a display of Obama’s weakness, Dems actually did manage to salvage something from the wreckage — positioning for the fight to come.

We already knew Obama’s jobs bill was doomed as is. But the Senate vote at least allows him to use GOP obstruction of the will of the majority as the launching pad for the battle to come, as he did in a statement last night:

Tonight, a majority of United States Senators voted to advance the American Jobs Act. But even though this bill contains the kind of proposals Republicans have supported in the past, their party obstructed the Senate from moving forward on this jobs bill.

* Battle for American Jobs Act continues: Also, Obama signaled clearly that Congress will now be forced to take repeated votes on the bill’s individual provisions:

In the coming days, Members of Congress will have to take a stand on whether they believe we should put teachers, construction workers, police officers and firefighters back on the job. They’ll get a vote on whether they believe we should cut taxes for small business owners and middle-class Americans, or whether we should protect tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. With each vote, Members of Congress can either explain to their constituents why they’re against common-sense, bipartisan proposals to create jobs, or they can listen to the overwhelming majority of American people who are crying out for action.

* The media play the White House wanted: The AP headline tells the story just as the White House hoped: “Senate Republicans vote to kill Obama’s jobs bill.”

This is the positioning the White House was going for: Republicans blocked the will of the majority by killing Obama’s effort at action on unemployment, and now Obama will continue the campaign by demanding they take a stand on the bill’s individual provisions, which poll very well.

More from Jonathan Cohn and Steve Benen along these lines.

* Can Obama jobs push win back independents? As I’ve been saying here, the jobs push is not just about winning back Dem base voters, it’s also about winning back swing voters, and Ruth Marcus ferrets out a fascinating number from the new Post poll: Fifty-five percent of indys says it won’t make a difference to the economy if a Republican is elected president.

As Marcus notes, there’s an opportunity here for Obama to persuade these independents not to change course, by positioning the GOP as opponents of any progress on the economy.

* Will House GOP allow a vote on the China currency ma­nipu­la­tion bill? As The Hill notes, the Senate’s passage of the China bill by a solid bipartisan margin yesterday could increase pressure on the House GOP (and Obama) to support the measure. The public demand for action on jobs could ultimately make it harder for Republican leaders to hold out against a House vote as the campaign season wears on. Keep an eye on this one.

* Romney calls payroll tax cut a “little bandaid”: Yesterday Mitt Romney dismissed the payroll tax cut extension by saying, “I don’t like temporary little band-aids,” and the DNC is hoping to turn that into another iconic moment with this new Web video juxtaposing that remark with Romney’s now-infamous claim that “corporations are people.”

“Economists and the America people do understand what Romney does not: middle class Americans need a break — they shouldn’t all go to the most fortunate among us,” a DNC spokesperson says. Expect the lower tax rates Romney himself pays on income from investments to figure in this line of attack.

* About Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan: It looks like Cain will be with us for some time to come, and if you need to get caught up on what his 9-9-9 plan is all about, Sandhya Somashekhar has a quick and useful primer.

Also of note: An expert says that Cain is gaining traction because the GOP electorate is uncharasterically receptive to this sort of bromide this cycle. Stephen Stromberg boils down the 9-9-9- plan and Cain’s whole campaign: “His candidacy seems to be based on the notion that life imitates slogans.”

* Herman Cain’s 15 minutes start ticking: As E.J. Dionne notes, Perry’s collapse means Cain and his 9-9-9- plan are now big time, and will now be subjected to a level of scrutiny that will ultimately pop the Cain bubble and leave Romney clearly in command.

* Gaffe of the day: Funny catch by NBC’s Carrie Dann: Rick Perry offered this intriguing take on American history last night:

Perry said that one of the “reasons we fought the revolution in the 16th century was to get away from that kind of onerous crown.” The Revolutionary War was fought in the 18th century.

The fact that this caused barely a ripple tells you all you need to know about how rapidly Perry is disappearing as a major factor in this race.

* Dems launch drive to recall Scott Walker: The Milwaukee Journail Sentinel runs through all the machinations surrounding the Dems’ now-official drive to recall Walker, which will require the collection of over half-a-million signatures and could trigger an election as soon as next March.

* And moderate Republicans are the problem: Last night moderate GOPers all voted to filibuster action on jobs, and Jamison Foser has an interesting read on how the real party responsible for Washington gridlock are moderate GOPers, who have maintained a symbiotic relationship with the Tea Party:

The so-called moderates mainstream the nonsensical policy positions peddled by the far right, and the extremist shrieking of the far right distracts public attention from the crucial role the so-called moderates have played in thwarting progress.

What else is happening?