* Can House GOP leadership control restive right flank? What to watch today: With the House set to vote on the budget deal containing $38 billion in spending cuts, the key question is whether GOP leaders will be able to keep their caucus generally united behind the plan, or whether they will need a sizable bipartisan bloc containing many Democratic votes to get it passed.
New emerging details about the $38 billion in cuts, including a report claiming they will have almost no impact on the deficit this year , is causing rising opposition among House conservatives. This could signal that the House GOP leadership will have increasing trouble controlling its restive right as the spending wars heat up — something that could have major ramifications for the coming fight over the debt ceiling.
My prediction: The expected rebellion on the right will fizzle — for now, anyway — and many House conservatives will end up backing the budget deal. Indeed, so far, only 12 House GOPers are known to be firm No votes.
Meanwhile: On Friday, the House is expected to pass along partisan lines Paul Ryan’s plan to end Medicare and Medicaid as we know it, which Dems will immediately seize on as a weapon heading into the 2012 elections.
* “A benchmark day in the Obama presidency”: I highly recommend this Rachel Maddow segment on yesterday’s Obama speech, in which she pivots off my take to make the crucial point that yesterday “will go down as a benchmark day in the Obama presidency” and for the “relationship between liberals and their party.” Please watch the whole thing, particularly the nuanced caveats about the speech in Maddow’s discussion with economist Dean Baker.
(Update: The Maddow video is in two parts; you need to wait through until the second part to get to the meat of Maddow’s point and the Baker interview.)
* Comparing the Ryan and Obama plans:Check out this very user friendly breakdown.
* Obama seeks to regain the offensive: It's good to see that Obama advisers viewed yesterday’s speech as a jumping off point for regaining the initiative in the spending wars by signaling seriousness about the deficit — while drawing an unabashed contrast with the GOP vision and signaling to Democrats that he’s prepared to fight for what his party stands for.
* Echoes of F.D.R. as Obama finally tended to his supporters: Hendrik Hertzberg on how Obama finally shed his nagging unwillingness to give liberals some emotional and intellectual nourishment.
Also interesting: Hertzberg heard echoes of “some of the explanatory, narrative qualities of F.D.R.’s fireside chats.”
* Obama recaptured spirit of F.D.R., Kennedy and Johnson: I like this take from Jonathan Cohn on the historic Democratic mission:
In the era of Roosevelt and Truman, Kennedy and Johnson, Democrats talked openly and proudly of this mission. But in the last few years, at least, Democrats have seemed less comfortable with such rhetoric, or at least comfortable with their loftier ideals than Republicans have been with theirs...
Not on Wednesday.
* The big question about Obama’s speech: When all is said and done, the key overarching question that Obama’s speech has raised is whether he has now found a voice, a narrative, and a vision that he really intends to stick with.
* Pundits complain that Obama is suddenly being too political: Joan Walsh pushes back on the pundit complaint that Obama’s speech was a “partisan” opening salvo of the 2012 campaign, pointing out that the core principles and priorities he laid out yesterday actually just might have major policy implications, too.
* House progressives try to move the debate to the left: Imagine what might happen if this new “People’s Budget” proposal introduced by House liberals represented the left pole at the outset of budget negotiations.
* Lefty groups plan warm welcome for Scott Walker: GOP Rep. Darrell Issa has invited the Wisconsin Governor to the Hill today to extoll the successes of his measure rolling back bargaining rights that isn’t even law yet — and unions and liberal groups are planning to greet him in style.
Key takeaway: National Republicans (who aren’t governors) are fully embracing Walker’s agenda, and both sides see political advantage in keeping the national spotlight on the Wisconsin standoff.
* Is Obama’s “problem with the base” a total media fabrication? Steve Kornacki has a rundown of all the predicted rebellions on the left that never materialized.
* Can Dems take back the House? That’s the premise behind a new Dem super PAC that’s vowing to raise and spend whatever it takes to keep pace with right wing groups that pumped tens of millions into House races last cycle.
* RNC chair wrestles with the birthers: RNC chair Reince Priebus clarifies: He thinks it will be counterproductive for the GOP if Donald Trump and other birthers to continue their spouting, but he would never, ever dream of asking them to zip it.
* And Rand Paul decides not to single-handedly shut down the government: We can all breathe a sigh of relief now that Senator Paul has rethought his plan to filibuster the budget deal. It apparently dawned on him that as much as the Tea Party would have applauded such a move, singlehandedly closing down the federal government might have proven somewhat counterproductive.
What else is going on?
UPDATE: This could be key: Sam Stein reports that David Plouffe is now opening the door to a “non-clean” vote on the debt ceiling.