Morning Must Reads

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–Republicans in Congress still seem a little thrown off by the health care summit and haven’t yet settled on a message going in. Andrew Sullivan notes some inconsistency. They also haven’t decided which way to go on the Senate jobs bill.

–Former GOP Senator Lincoln Chafee, now running as an independent, makes the case for a third party in a Times op-ed today. The crux of his argument: “Republicans lead in the wrong direction and Democrats are unable to lead in any direction at all.”

–As Karen mentioned, we’re working on a week-long look at “Broken Government.” The sentiment is not new, but its current scope is worth noting: A CNN poll finds a whopping 86% of Americans say they think government is broken.

–Paul Krugman, perhaps the most influential voice on the left, gets a lengthy profile in the New Yorker.

–As I previously predicted, it looks like the White House wants to put health insurance rate hikes front and center this week as they push for reform. The newly proposed measure that would empower the federal government to oversee premium increases strikes me as more or less political. It targets symptoms of a problem more than the disease itself and, as Jonathan Cohn points out, many states already have this power.

Mike Allen lays out White House strategy going into midterm season. The rough outline sounds quite familiar: Obama touring the country, pledging new efforts on transparency and reform — in other words, trying to recapture some of the 2008 Change mojo. However, the White House hasĀ  identified a few new angles to work. They hope to capitalize on the unpopularity of the Citizens United v. FEC campaign finance decision and harness some old fashioned nationalism by framing their agenda in terms of American competitiveness on the global stage (remember “I don’t accept second place for the United States” line from the State of the Union address.)

USA Today‘s Susan Page takes a broad look at Romney’s very transparent gear-up for another presidential run.

–Ron Paul won the CPAC straw poll, breaking Mitt Romney’s threepeat winning streak. I think his victory says more about the demographics of the conference’s attendance than the state of the 2012 field. What’s probably more telling is that Romney was the only potential candidate beside Paul to break double digits. Ben Smith calls it “a reminder of his pre-eminence as the establishment GOP and conservative frontrunner.”

–The NRSC’s Jon Cornyn says Republicans shouldn’t count their chickens before November. Krugman (via Greg Sargent) agrees.

What did I miss?