* Jonathan Cohn punctures the conservative talking point that the sequester is “only” a small cut to government, and games out the human costs and hit to the economy it will entail — since spending is already historically low as a percentage of GDP.
* The House Progressive Caucus releases a statement:
If Congress cannot come up with a replacement to the sequester before the end of the week, we should eliminate the sequester entirely. One million working Americans should not be forced to pay the price for Republican stubbornness. If this goes into effect, it will be one of the most irresponsible legislative failures in the history of the Republic.
This idea, of course, will be just as marginalized as the House progressive plan to avert the sequester was.
* Paul Begala talks to TPM about the government shutdown fight of the mid-1990s, and about why Republicans appear to be underestimating the weakness of their own position in exactly the same fashion once again.
* Republican governors call on Obama to “lead” in the quest to avoid the sequester, which is curious, since they are well positioned to press their own counterparts in Congress to compromise on revenues already.
* However, this quote from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is interesting:
Walker, too, said congressional leadership has been ineffective in bringing about any solutions to the impending cuts. “We’re not here speaking on behalf of Republicans on the Hill, we’re speaking on behalf of Republican governors,” he said. “The difference is, we’re providing leadership.”
As noted earlier today, the question is whether any GOP governors who want both sides to compromise to avert damaging cuts to their states will urge Congressional Republicans to, you know, do what it takes to actually reach a compromise.
* The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is up with strong new ad targeting Mitch McConnell on guns. Is it possible to extract a political price for opposing gun control in Kentucky?
* The Huffington Post reports that Obama’s gun proposals are likely to be moved as separate bills, and the story games out what Dems are doing to keep Tom Coburn on board with expanded background checks.
* With Ted Cruz rapidly rising in the GOP firmament, Ed Kilgore offers a suggestion:
I propose a litmus test for all those Republicans who say they learned their lesson and want to build a GOP that is free of the rancor and extremism of the recent past. Let’s ask them: what do you think of Ted Cruz? Because if they won’t call this guy out, then they haven’t learned a thing.
* Also: Mike Tomasky on how Cruz is feeding the GOP rage machine and already cashing in big time for it.
* As Justin Green rightly notes, the GOP’s priority just isn’t deficit reduction; it’s shrinking government and keeping taxes low. Odd that so many commentators don’t get the basics here.
* Reality check of the day: Digby argues that the big picture is that conservatives, with Dem complicity, have actually been winning the war of ideas over the scope and role of government, and calls on liberals to rein in the cockiness.
* And as Steve Benen points out, it’s important not to sugar coat the fact that much GOP rhetoric about the sequester and the economy is really nothing more than just gibberish. The latest example? GOP Rep. Tom Price, who says the sequester is necessary to “get the economy rolling again.” Benen’s response:
Taking billions out of the economy and forcing public sector workers from their jobs does not get an economy “rolling,” unless we’re talking about “rolling” downhill.