Last week I predicted that the fourth-quarter GDP scare would spook the White House into cutting some kind of deal to turn off the sequester, with its across-the-board spending cuts.

Sure enough, today brings news that President Obama will ask Congress for another short-term delay. The AP reports: “Obama will ask for a targeted way to reduce the deficit in the short term, perhaps several months. White House officials say Congress needs more time to work out a 10-year plan worth more than $1 trillion in deficit reduction.”

Because they’ve signaled a willingness to go ahead with the sequester, even as Majority Leader Eric Cantor commences the project of soft-focusing the party’s agenda by talking about issues besides the federal budget, Republicans have found themselves with under-the-radar bargaining leverage. If they’re smart, they will husband this leverage wisely and press for modest measures to rein in spending over the long haul. That they’re no longer threatening to blow up the economy in the short term is a positive sign.

Let’s see how if House GOP leaders can persuade the exuberant freshmen and sophomore members of their caucus not to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.