* David Drucker reports that House Republicans are now looking at defunding Obamacare as part of a government appropriations bill. Sigh. Apparently this is supposed to be more moderate and sensible than threatening a shutdown.
* An intriguing tidbit from Jake Sherman’s piece detailing serious divisions among House Republicans over spending:
Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), so frustrated by the stymied pace of spending bills, said he won’t pen a year-long continuing resolution, and his committee will not vote for it.
Rogers, remember, called on House Republicans to give up the charade that they are going to be able to stick to sequester-level spending, a major break with the GOP leadership. This appears to amp things up a notch; it appears that the only options are a short term funding of the government or some kind of broader deal to replace the sequester.
* Michael Gerson on Ted Cruz and the defund-Obamacare brigade, how they are making a Dem takeover of the House more likely, and how the premise of their argument draws on Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” worldview.
* Scott Wilson and Aaron Blake on how some Senate Dems are growing increasingly assertive in their criticism of NSA surveillance overreach, and how that could pose problems for Obama. Look, some kind of NSA reform is probably inevitable, but it’s on Dems to ensure that it’s meaningful.
* Relatedly, the Guardian has a full rundown of all the ways Congress will push for NSA reform this fall; civil liberties-minded lawmakers appear convinced momentum is on their side.
* Sahil Kapur reports that Senate Republicans are standing firm on their threat to block Obama nominations to the DC Circuit Court of appeals, a central ideological battleground. Another nuke showdown coming?
* Speaking of which, Ed Kilgore is really right about this: Progressives need to let wobbly Dem Senators know that they need to be ready for another nuclear confrontation over judicial nominations if necessary.
* And Patrick Leahy confirms it: Dems are eying the nuclear button for judicial nominations, not just executive ones.
* Neil Irwin on how today’s so-so jobs numbers are a good metaphor for the overall recovery: We’re moving forward, but it’s just not good enough.
* Howell Raines on what Campaign 2012 tells us about the GOP’s addiction to an austerity message and how it is severing the party’s connection to middle class swing voters, with potential long term consequences.
* Nancy Pelosi: We’re not getting a farm bill by the October deadline, and you can thank GOP dysfunction for it. House Republicans are moving forward with still deeper cuts to food stamps — now at $40 billion and counting! — to win over conservatives for a GOP-only bill, but of course this will run smack into the Dem-controlled Senate.
* Assignment desk: Jonathan Bernstein has a very good question that reporters should be asking the organizers of those anti-Obamacare rallies.
* ICYMI: Cook Political Report shifts the Mitch McConnell-Alison Lundergan Grimes Senate race to “Toss Up,” and the national political press may now begin seeing this as a real race.
* And this should be fun: McConnell and Grimes are facing off this weekend for the first time.