Morning Must Reads: Bargain

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(White House/Pete Souza)

–Majority Leader Harry Reid has put entitlements on the table, the first open step on the part of Democratic leadership toward the possibility of a grand budget bargain. Speaker Boehner and company still want to do short-term non-defense discretionary spending first.

–Whatever cuts are made, it’s a safe bet that they’ll be unpopular.

–David Leonhardt worries about another spring stall for the economy.

–Democrats and Republicans in Wisconsin are talking deal.

–Obama gets some labor love, and both get knocked around in a $750,000 national cable ad buy from Crossroads GPS:

Steve Kornacki is on, as Nate Silver puts it, the “Mitt Romney-is-so-overrated-he’s-actually-underrated bandwagon.” Ditto.

–David Frum’s assessment of Tim Pawlenty:

Pawlenty was a fine governor, and I’m sure he would be a fine president. Yet I have never met anybody who is enthusiastic about him, and I’ve met quite a few of the people who work for him…. Can you reach the presidency with all around you saying, “He’s fine, he’ll do”?

–Though she doesn’t yet face any serious challengers, Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe looks like she may be in rough shape for reelection next year.

–Reid says he prefers the House GOP offset to repealing the 1099 tax reporting measure in health reform. That offset would increase subsidy repayments  from users of health insurance exchanges after a change in income — some worry those upped repayments could become onerous.

–TIME’s Hannah Beech explains why Gary Locke will be well-received in Beijing. Josh Rogin previews his Senate confirmation test.

–In case anyone forgot, Sen. Richard Shelby still has Fed nominee Peter Diamond in limbo.

–Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack defends outsize rural subsidies to Ezra Klein. Maybe it’s just the jaded cityslicker in me, but I don’t find this to be a compelling argument: “There’s a value system there. Service is important for rural folks. Country is important, patriotism is important.”

–And social media users are more likely to click on political ads if they instill anger.

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