* In moving to kill the unemployment extension, Republicans may have successfully implemented a major plank in their poverty agenda today. Jonathan Cohn puts today’s floor action in the context of Republican claims to want to do something or other to help the poor and unemployed, and reports that while UI is not quite dead yet, it’s pretty damn close.
* Steve Benen recaps the Republicans’ evolution from opposing UI on the merits, to supporting help to the jobless in principle while insisting on conditions in exchange for their backing, to closing out with process excuses.
* Kevin Drum with a good, quick, pithy post: “Ignore the Republicans. Obamacare is doing fine.”
* Ezra Klein makes it as simple as can be: “The risk of a ‘death spiral’ is over.”
* Jonathan Bernstein nails it: This is no longer just about how well the law will work, but how well the health system will work. You see, Obamacare isn’t getting repealed.
What it could do is move the U.S. closer to war with Iran and, crucially, make Iran appear — even to many of the U.S.’s allies — to be the victim of American intransigence, even aggression. It would be quite an achievement to allow Iran, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, to play the role of injured party in this drama. But the Senate is poised to do just that…new sanctions, just as negotiations are starting, would be provocative and escalatory and would undermine the administration’s attempt to denuclearize Iran without going to war.
At least 16 Senate Democrats now support this course of action.
* James Fallows absolutely crucifies Senate Dems who support the sanctions measure. This:
Maybe this deal will fail. But if you’d rather that the failure not be engineered in the Capitol, let your representatives know.
* Andrew Sullivan is even harsher: “Democrats for war with Iran.” As Sullivan asks, are these Senators even stopping for a second to wonder what their constituents might think of this?
* Dave Weigel reports that Senator Tim Kaine has added his name to those against a vote now on the Iran bill. Also, Weigel makes a good point: Rand Paul, who is striking a posture on national security that’s independent of the GOP, remains undecided on this one.
* And Ben Armbruster notes that Al Franken also appears to be a No, while Senator Richard Blumenthal, a previous Yes, seems to be having second thoughts.
* Harry Reid was noncommittal today when asked whether he’d allow a Senate vote on the Iran bill, saying he’ll see how the issue plays out. Which is a reminder why it’s important for more Dems to come out against it.
* Daniel Newhauser reports that House Republican leaders are edging closer to holding their own vote on the sanctions bill, and that this is already “dividing” Dems, which seems to be the intention — one some Dems appear determined to play along with.
* And Francis Wilkinson draws on political history to persuasively explain how Chris Christie is laying the groundwork for some particularly brutal damage control down the road.