* Public backs Occupy Wall Street, and wants to tax rich to fund action on jobs:

The new National Journal poll spells it out as clearly as you could want: A majority of Americans agrees with the Occupy Wall Street protestors and is paying attention to the protests — even as an even bigger majority also backs the Dem plan for a surtax on millionaires to pay for the government to act on unemployment.

The poll finds that 59 percent of Americans completely agree or somewhat agree with the protestors, and, crucially, that almost two thirds say they’ve heard “a lot” or “some” about the rallies. Meanwhile, 68 percent back hiking taxes on millionaires to pay for the Dem jobs plan.

And get this: Nearly one third of Republicans agree with the protesters, and 37 percent of them back the millionaire surtax.

Has the public spoken clearly enough on these matters yet? What more will it take?

At the same time, though — and this is key — there’s high public skepticism about government’s ability to fix the problem, but not because of a lack of good jobs creation policy ideas. More than half say Congressional gridlock is to blame for blocking action on “good ideas” to ease unemployment.

All of which supports one of the leading interpretations of the Occupy Wall Street protests: They’re rooted in a general and growing sense that our institutions are failing us at a moment of crisis.

* Is the Senate capable of acting to alleviate the suffering of Amerians? With the Senate set to vote on a key piece of Obama’s jobs plan this week — the aid to states for hiring teachers and firefighters — don’t miss this extensive interview with Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics on the jobs proposals.

“Congress should pass Obama’s jobs plan, piece by piece,” Zandi says. “The extension and expansion of the payroll tax holidays for workers would be number one on my list and key to avoiding recession.”

I know this doesn’t seem to matter to anyone, but Moody’s also says that the Senate GOP jobs plan won’t create any near term jobs and could even make the economy worse. Will Senate Republicans (and moderate Dems) agree to any policies that economists say will avert another recession?

* Moderate Dems may not support state aid: Indeed, even some moderate Senate Dems are saying they may not be able to bring themselves to support it, partly on the grounds that spending to boost the economy is politically difficult in the current environment. Good to see these folks have their priorities straight!

* Sob story of the day: GOP Senators are angry with Harry Reid for pointing out that they seem to be rooting for the economy to fail, on the grounds that this breaks some sort of protocol.

Here’s a thought. If these GOP senators want Reid to stop doing this, maybe they should consider not voting 100 percent against even allowing debate on a package of popular proposals that economists say would ease unemployment? (Yes, two Dems voted against it too, and they are also to blame for the Senate’s fauilre to act.)

* Durbin: Does GOP want economy to fail? Also of note in the above link: Dick Durbin backs Reid up with this: “Since the Republicans are not offering any jobs plan with any credibility to it, you have to say to them: ‘Do you really care?’”

* Newsflash: Action on jobs would reduce deficit, too: As Atrios keeps tirelessly pointing out, even the self-described deficit hawks should be favoring action on jobs, because it’s the best way to reduce the deficit. Presuming, of course, that they actually do care about reducing the deficit...

* Mitt Romney on illegals: “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake”: The best moment, hands down, from last night’s debate, came when Romney responded to Rick Perry’s charge of illegal aliens working on his property with this:

We hired a lawn company to mow our lawn, and they had illegal immigrants who were working there. And when that was pointed out to us, we let them go ... We went to the company and we said, look, you can’t have any illegals working on our property. I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake, I can’t have illegals.

* Romney and that lawn care company: Glenn Kessler has the basic facts of the matter . There’s no evidence he ever knowingly employed a company that used illegals, but he continued to employ that same company after he learned that it had done so, arguing that he had taken care of the problem. When he again discovered it was using illegals, he fired the company.

* Obama team sharpens attack on Romney: David Axelrod, on CBS this morning: “He has been bumping along with a quarter of the vote in the Republican primary and there seems to be resistance to him… I think there is a sense there is no core to him.”

The Obama team, which seems to see Romney as the likely nominee, is already building a case against him as lacking in core principles and ideologically malleable and opportunistic.

* Cain-mentum!!! Yes, we keep hearing his 15 minutes are ticking away, but two new NBC/Marist polls show him leading in South Carolina and neck and neck with Romney in Florida, two states that have traditionally been key to winning the GOP nomination. Mark Murray explains the divide between the two candidates:

Cain performs better among Tea Party backers, very conservative voters, evangelical Christians and Republicans who have viewed the past GOP debates. Romney, by contrast, over-performs among Republicans who don’t identify with the Tea Party, as well as those who consider themselves liberals and moderates.

* White House fighting for Richard Cordray: The White House is enlisting a bipatisan coalition of attorneys general to push Senate Republicans to agree to confirm Richard Cordray as head of the consumer protection agency that Elizabeth Warren built, a sign that the White House may be gearing up for a major fight to get him through.

Key takeaway: A big push for Cordray would dovetail with the Obama team’s newly aggresive populism and strategy of leveraging rising public anger at Wall Street to pressure Republicans to adopt Obama policies.

* House GOP pursuing two separate probes of Solyndra? Nice scoop from Roll Call: Two GOP-led House committees are simultaneously pursuing very similar investigations into Solyndra, requesting the same documents, and vying for the same headlines.

One Dem, speaking of GOP investigations chief Darrell Issa, who seems to have played catch-up with the other committee, told Roll Call: “Issa hadn’t cared at all about Solyndra until it started raining headlines, and then suddenly it troubled him deeply.”

* A progressive candidate who fully embraces protests: Progressive Oregon labor commissioner Brad Avakian is running in a special election to replace Rep. David Wu, and if you want to see what it looks like when a Dem candidate for Congress is not afraid to fully embrace Occupy Wall Street, then watch this video.

* Is Occupy Wall Street going mainstream? Will Oremus rounds up all the polling and other evidence and concludes: “If Occupy Wall Street is a fringe movement, it’s looking like a pretty big fringe.”

* And some new polling on Occupy Wall Street: I hear still more new poll numbers on the public’s view of the protests are coming out today. Should be very interesting. Stay tuned...