Deadlines are the new red lines – except this time there's more of them. There's a shutdown chill in the air, and it will only get colder in the next few weeks. Ted Cruz has suddenly become the Republican whom Republicans love to hate, except when they're doing exactly what he called on them to do. If you thought 2013 was about beaches and speeches for the Clintons, you don't know the Clintons. And President Obama isn't meeting with House Republicans, though he's looking forward to some interesting get-togethers during a few days in the Big Apple.
Here's a look at some of the stories your ABC News political team is tracking in the week ahead:
It's legislative ping pong, over a game of poker, while playing roulette with nation's economy. House Republicans went first, voting to keep the government running beyond Sept. 30 only on the condition that the Obama health care law gets none of the dollars they're approving. It's over to the Senate next, where Sen. Ted Cruz and his allies have fewer votes but louder voices, and then back to the House in the latest round of the endless budget wars. The stakes don't get much higher than this: The fight pits competing visions of government against each other, with the new health care law, the Obama agenda, and possibly the nation's entire economy in the balance. And this won't be the last or even the most consequential deadline; the debt ceiling, which we'll come up against in mid-October, takes that dubious distinction.
President Obama speaks Tuesday at the annual meeting of the United National General Assembly, and we're told that there are a few things on the international agenda these days. But a possible off-stage meeting is where the real buzz will be. White House aides have suggested that the president might meet with new Iranian President Hasan Rouhani while in New York, in what would be the first meeting between the Iranian and American heads of state in 36 years. Rouhani has expressed an openness to better relations with the United States. Obama – who's exchanged letters with the new president – has said he wants to "test" that. It's good timing for such testing, given the state of affairs in the neighborhood, and the new window for diplomacy that's opened up around Syria as well as Iran.
|EVERYWHERE A CLINTON|
It's going to be a big Clinton week. The annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative will bring stars to New York City, with everyone from Bono to Bill Gates to Sheryl Sandberg joining former President Bill Clinton over the course of a few days. President Obama will make an appearance with the former president on Tuesday, to tout the new health care law. Look for other Clinton media appearances throughout the week. Also intriguing: Hillary Rodham Clinton has granted her first major print interview since leaving her job as secretary of state; look for that in New York magazine on Monday. And then end the week with an event that won't include a Clinton but may as well: EMILY's List takes its "Madam President" tour to New Hampshire on Friday, a few weeks after kicking things off in Iowa.
|TO OUR HEALTH|
The budget fight is wrapped up with Obamacare (surprise!), and that means complicated positioning and messaging in advance of the next big deadline on the health care law's calendar. Oct. 1 marks the start of new state-based insurance exchanges, where those who don't have health insurance will be able to obtain coverage. Groups are organizing campaigns in both directions, some urging people to get insured, and others urging them to boycott all elements of Obamacare. With six in 10 Americans saying in the new ABC News/Washington Post poll they don't know enough about the law to make an informed judgment about what they need to do, efforts to shape perceptions around Obamacare – through advertisements, house parties, and rallies – take on extra importance. And with companies announcing changes to their plans or rules by the day, it's a critical stretch in defining public acceptance of what might be President Obama's defining legislative accomplishment.
|IN THE BACKGROUND|
President Obama is set to attend a memorial for victims of the Navy Yard shooting on Sunday, and the political aftermath has turned the conversation to background checks. No, not those kinds of background checks – though there's still interest and energy in getting gun-control measures back on the congressional agenda, particularly after a fresh round of gun violence in Chicago. Questions around how the alleged gunman, Aaron Alexis, gained authorized access to the military installation, despite a history of unstable behavior, are now on Congress' mind. A Defense Department review has been ordered up, and congressional hearings won't be far behind.