By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- A VERY LONG TO-DO LIST: From a budget standoff on Capitol Hill to delicate diplomacy at the United Nations to the aftermath of another mass shooting, which took place one week ago today, President Obama begins the fall with a lengthy to-do list of domestic and international challenges. Obama vowed over the weekend at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s yearly dinner that he would “keep marching” on the hot button issues of his presidency. In particular, the president railed against Republicans in Congress for risking a government shutdown and credit default unless his signature healthcare legislation was disassembled, ABC’s MATTHEW LAROTONDA notes. “This is an interesting thing to ponder,” he said of his detractors. “That your top agenda is making sure that 20 million people don’t have health insurance and you’d be willing to shut down the government and potentially default — for the time in United States history — because it bothers you so much.” He told the audience the GOP had been taken over by an “extreme faction” and that he would “not negotiate” over the Affordable Care Act. “It’s time for these folks to stop governing by crisis and start focusing on what really matters: Creating new jobs, growing our economy, expanding opportunity for ourselves, looking after our children, doing something about the violence out there.” http://abcn.ws/19sYYhs
- ON THE WORLD STAGE: President Obama arrives in New York City today for what could be two of his biggest days of international diplomacy since taking office, ABC’s DEVIN DWYER writes. At the United Nations General Assembly, Obama will attempt to seal a deal on a resolution to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, nudge along newly-resumed Israeli and Palestinian peace talks, tame anger among allies about NSA spying, and possibly test a new dialogue with Iran. The potential for historic breakthroughs on several fronts has raised the stakes for Obama at the U.N. meeting, and added an element of suspense to what is normally a scripted and often sleepy annual affair. Generating the greatest buzz is a potential Obama meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a newly-elected moderate, who’s making his U.N. debut and has been on a charm offensive with western media. http://abcn.ws/1faowbL
- ON THE HILL: It’s legislative ping pong, over a game of poker, while playing roulette with nation’s economy — and President Obama is right in the middle of it all, ABC’s RICK KLEIN notes. House Republicans went first last week, 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. This week, it’s over to the Senate, 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. http://abcn.ws/15cnQsH
- ON GUNS: The president acknowledged yesterday at a memorial service for the victims of last week’s Navy Yard shooting in Washington, DC that the “politics” of gun control were difficult but implored Americans not to accept that political gridlock would prevent change. “I do not accept that we cannot find a common-sense way to preserve our traditions, including our basic Second Amendment freedoms and the rights of law-abiding gun owners, while at the same time reducing the gun violence that unleashes so much mayhem on a regular basis,” Obama said. http://abcn.ws/1aVQzGI
ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: The Senate outlook seems fairly clear this week, with Obamacare funding restored and the budget bill to keep the government open sent back to the House before the weekend. But the path to getting there over the coming days is filled with consequential questions: Will any jittery Democrats who are up for re-election take a stand against the unpopular health care law? How many Republicans will join the Senate floor smackdown of Sen. Ted Cruz? And perhaps the biggest question of all: Will Sen. Marco Rubio fully immerse himself in the defunding fight or find a way to split the difference?
ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Ask yourself: What person who isn’t doing what she needs to do to run for president says things like this? “I have a pretty good idea of the political and governmental challenges that are facing our leaders.” Or this: “I’ll do whatever I can from whatever position I find myself in.” Or, for that matter, this: “Right now, we’re trying to just have the best time we can have doin’ what we’re doin’.” Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first major interview since leaving the Secretary of State’s office, with New York magazine’s Joe Hagan, reveals that she’s thinking about way more than beaches and speeches after all. No one should be surprised. But it’s possible to ask the same question an unnamed Clinton adviser asked in a different context in the article: What here can’t wait for, say, a year? Let’s be, to quote Clinton again, “pragmatic and realistic”: It’s simply not accurate to argue that the press is looking too hard for clues about a presidential run when the map is drawn on the pages of a major American magazine. Maybe she wouldn’t have ever had any choice, but frontrunner status awaits…
ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Sunday, President Obama yet again took the stage to address families and a community shattered by another mass shooting. He’s comforted families of similar shootings five times before and he said the murders at the Navy Yard one week ago that took 12 lives “ought to be a shock to us all as a nation and as a people.” ”It ought to obsess us,” Obama said. “It ought to lead to some sort of transformation.” He went on to mention the United Kingdom and Australia where “just a single mass shooting occurred,” but they made changes and the shootings became a “great rarity.” ”Here in the United States, after the round-of-clock coverage on cable news, after the heartbreaking interviews with families, after all the speeches and all the punditry and all the commentary, nothing happens,” Obama said. “I fear there’s a creeping resignation that these tragedies are just somehow the way it is, that this is somehow the new normal.” So, is this the “new normal?” Can there really be no will among those elected to serve to do anything? Whether on gun control or better mental health care can Americans truly be resigned to more massacres and not demand something be done? It seems whenever there is any progress on either better access to mental health care or gun control they become political footballs few on either side of the aisle of willing to touch, but at what point as a nation do we say, “This must stop” for the good and the future of our country?
OBAMA TO NAVY YARD FAMILIES ‘ONCE MORE OUR HEARTS ARE BROKEN.’ President Obama spoke to the families of the victims of the Navy Yard shooting Sunday, once again taking on the role of “comforter-in-chief” in another mass killing, ABC’s MATTHEW LAROTONDA and GILLIAN MOHNEY note. The president appeared stern as he spoke at a memorial service for the victims, where he called for “basic common sense action” to reduce gun violence and said Americans should not become “resigned” to periodic mass shootings. Obama did not, however, mention any proposed legislative changes and instead said the American people must demand change. “No other advanced nation endures this kind of violence, none,” Obama said. “Murder rate with guns is 10 times what it is in developed nations. … It comes about because of decisions we make or fail to make. It falls upon us to make it different.” At one point the president appeared to pause for a moment, overcome with emotion, when he mentioned Arthur and Priscilla Daniels. Arthur Daniels, 51, was killed in the Navy Yard shooting. Four years earlier Daniels’ 14-year-old son was killed in a shooting in Washington D.C. “I can’t believe this is happening again,” said Obama, quoting Priscilla Daniels. The couple had been married for 30 years. http://abcn.ws/1aVQzGI
REP. TOM GRAVES DEFENDS OBAMACARE DE-FUNDING EFFORT. With the threat of a government shutdown looming, Rep. Tom Graves defended his effort to defund President Obama’s signature health care law on “This Week” Sunday, ABC’s ISOBEL MARKHAM reports. “We are united around a very simple goal, and that is keeping the government open while protecting our constituents from the harmful effects of Obamacare,” Graves said. “We have eight days to do that.” The House voted on Friday 230-189 along party lines to pass Graves’ bill – his first as a House member – that would extend funding for government operations until mid-December, while defunding the Affordable Care Act, passed into law in 2010. The defunding bill was put forward in the House by Graves, who has taken up the fight led in the Senate by freshman Tea Party Senators Ted Cruz, R-Tex. and Mike Lee, R-Utah to pull the plug on funding for Obamacare. http://abcn.ws/19uvCj1
–REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: ‘THIS IS ABSOLUTELY INSANE.’ Meanwhile, on “This Week,” House budget committee ranking member Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., dismissed the efforts to defund President Obama’s health care law. “There’s a reason Republican senators like Senator McCain and others are saying this is absolutely insane,” Van Hollen said. “They’re going to shut down the government if they can’t deny health care to millions of Americans.” An ABC News/Washington Post poll this week showed that 52 percent are opposed to the law and only 11 percent believe Obamacare will improve their health care. Van Hollen puts this down to confusion surrounding the law, stirred up by Republicans. “I’m not surprised that there’s a lot of confusion. These guys have been running around the country demagoguing, scare mongering on this issue,” Van Hollen said. “They’re not afraid that it’s going to be unsuccessful, they’re afraid it’s going to be successful and all of that misinformation will be shown to be a fraud.” http://abcn.ws/19uvCj1
REP. PETER KING: KENYAN MALL ATTACK SHOWS AL QAEDA STILL ‘EXTREMELY POWERFUL.’ Yesterday on “This Week,” Rep. Peter King told ABC’s MARTHA RADDATZ that the attack yesterday on an upscale mall in Nairobi, Kenya that left 59 people dead and nearly 200 wounded was “very sophisticated” and shows the ongoing ability of al Qaeda and its affiliates to inflict terror, ABC’s BEN BELL notes. “This is a particularly brutal attack and it almost seems as if the terror world is coming full cycle. Because one of the first major attacks that we recall against the United States was the attacks on the embassies back in 1998 and now we have 15 year later a massacre,” King said. “Really a well coordinated, well planned, horrific massacre. They attacked at the busiest time of the week, the busiest time of the day. They knew what they were doing, they took the hostages.” “So this is again very similar to Mumbai, and showing that al Qaeda and its affiliates are still extremely powerful and still able to really strike terror into the hearts of people,” King added. “Attacking at a shopping mall, that has no military significance at all, this is clearly an attack to terrorize and murder innocent civilians. And if the reports are true that they’re allowing Muslims to leave and focusing on non-Muslims, again they’re making this part of their jihadist war.” http://abcn.ws/1ezXRUG
FOUR THINGS TO WATCH AT THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY THIS WEEK. This week promises high drama at the United Nations as the world’s leaders come together for debate and diplomacy at the 68th U.N. General Assembly. With the threat of military strikes looming over the hard push for diplomacy on Syria, the global debut of Iran’s new president and encounters between allies and foes around the world, here are four things to watch for, according to ABC’s DANA HUGHES and CHRIS GOOD: (1) Will President Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry meet with their Iranian counterparts? (2) Will Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, who’s been indicted for war crimes, actually come? He’s put in for a visa, but will it be granted? (3) Will the U.N. Security Council actually come to an agreement on a Syria resolution to destroy the country’s chemical weapons stockpile? And what kind of consequences will that Chapter 7 resolution have built in that both the U.S. and Russia can accept? (4) Will the Syrian opposition, which has stated it is adamantly opposed to the U.S.-Russia deal but has been invited to meetings at the General Assembly gathering, accept the outcome of the diplomacy taking place? READ MORE: http://abcn.ws/16nuH1U
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
OVAL OFFICE HOURS: WHAT PRESIDENT OBAMA COULD LEARN FROM WOODROW WILSON. President Obama could improve relations with Congress by taking a page from Woodrow Wilson’s playbook, so says Pulitzer- Prize-winning biographer A. Scott Berg. Berg, who has recently published a new book on Woodrow Wilson, told “Politics Confidential’s” JONATHAN KARL that the 28th president, in contrast to Obama, had a “sustained dialogue with lawmakers.” “People have accused president Obama of lurching from crisis to crisis,” Berg said. “Wilson had as many crises, but he didn’t have to lurch because there was an ongoing conversation.” Wilson would regularly go to Capitol Hill to hold office hours for members of Congress, sitting in a room off the Senate chamber where lawmakers could easily access him. Wilson’s unique approach, Berg says, came from his belief that the White House and Congress should “literally … co-operate the government.” WATCH: http://yhoo.it/1faDSNi
IN THE NOTE’S INBOX
“THE PATH TO VICTORY,” a Real Clear Politics Op-Ed by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex. “If Senate Republicans stay strong and hold true to their previous commitments to defund Obamacare, we will force Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a choice: keep the government open, or shut it down in the name of funding a glitch-riddled health care takeover that is killing jobs, wages, and health care benefits all across the nation. The next step is critical. Senate Republicans should demand a 60-vote threshold for any effort that would add Obamacare funding back into the House bill. This is the battle line: Senate Republicans must stop Reid from rejecting the House bill and adding Obamacare funding with merely 51 votes. The House bill must be protected. … We know the Democratic leadership wants to fund Obamacare, and it’s certain Leader Reid will use every gimmick, obscure parliamentary trick, and sweetheart deal to do it. After all, that’s how he passed Obamacare in the first place. Until Reid guarantees a 60-vote threshold on all amendments, a vote for cloture is a vote for Obamacare. It would amount to giving the Democrats a green light to fund Obamacare with 51 votes. We owe it to our constituents to keep our promise to stop Obamacare. Many in Washington like to talk about “elections having consequences” but seem more intent on focusing on who has power. It’s time to quit worrying about power and blame and simply do what’s right.” http://bit.ly/1fteEHG
@ralphreed: If O meets w/ Rouhani absent cooperation w/ IAEA on nuke program, it telegraphs weakness. Which is why I fear he will do it.
@joshtpm: Why everybody hates Ted Cruz, Ed. 29, vol. 3 http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/la-cruzada-everybody-hates-ted-cruz …
@JesseFFerguson: Why ask “when will Obama negotiate w/ Boehner?” Boehner admitted he doesn’t run House GOP any more, Tea Party does.
@MarkLandler: Diplo fun fact: first high-level Obama official to “bump into” an Iranian at a summit? Richard Holbrooke in the Hague in March 2009