–Obama plans to use a recess appointment to get Donald Berwick in at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, avoiding what was sure to be a nasty confirmation fight in the Senate. In its spin, the White House makes at least two good points: CMS has been without a permanent chief since 2006 and the Harvard professor is well qualified for the post. But there are a few unusual things about the appointment. Berwick had not finished answering pre-confirmation questionnaires from the Senate, no hearings were yet scheduled and the short July break is not so often used for recess appointments. It looks like the White House made a calculation that Berwick’s unabashed admiration of Britain’s National Health Service was too tempting a target for hyperbolic Senate Republicans and that his cost-cutting expertise — precisely the reason they think he’s right for the job — could be used against them politically. Their anxieties are apparent in the title of communications director Dan Pfeiffer’s announcement: “Moving Forward to Protect Seniors’ Care.” Republicans, who were spoiling for a fight over Berwick, are upset.
–Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza report GOP operatives and fundraisers plan to work around the RNC for the remainder of Michael Steele’s tenure, funneling money and manpower to the other committees.
–As Joe notes, John Kerry responded to Mitt Romney’s op-ed on START with one of his own in today’s Washington Post. National Democrats seem hyper aware of (and quick to react to) Romney’s every movement.
–Our colleague Massimo Calabresi writes Obama’s oval office photo op with Netanyahu was mutually beneficial on the surface, but a deep policy rift remains.
–Meg Whitman’s cash blizzard and Jerry Brown’s campaign lethargy are equalizing California’s gubernatorial race, according to the latest Field Poll.
–Indiana Democrat Brad Ellsworth and Missouri Republican Roy Blunt both released opening ads in their Senate bids this week, offering voters bio/resumes and a healthy dose of anti-Washington anger. Conspicuously missing: any mention of what party they belong to or the fact that they’ve both served multiple terms in the House.
–Mark Leibovich profiles the inquiry-enamored Darrell Issa and finds he likes firing up the press.
–And Alvin Greene will save the economy one G.I. Joe at a time.
What did I miss?