The TAKE with Rick Klein
So much of the standoff over the Biden agenda is about Democrats' trust and lack thereof -- among and between progressives and moderates, leaders and rank-and-file members, outside groups and inside caucuses and between virtually everyone and the White House.
That makes this an inconvenient time for President Joe Biden's credibility to come into question. Top military advisers' testimony in the Senate Tuesday, with more to come in the House Wednesday, appears to contradict the president's previous assertions about the kind of advice he got before ordering the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The White House is pushing back on any notion that the president hasn't been truthful about what he last month called a "split" in the advice he was getting. And Biden aides would like to separate Afghanistan from the domestic agenda entirely. A new ABC News/Ipsos poll published Wednesday shows how hard that might be, though.
Biden's approval rating is down across a range of issues compared to a month ago. People are unhappy about his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, immigration, the economy, gun violence, crime and, yes, even infrastructure. The sagging numbers come after months of stability and relative popularity for the president. The figures started to drop right around the disastrous Afghanistan exit, and so far, they haven't shown signs of recovering.
With huge deadlines looming, it's notable not just how many Democrats are implicitly defying the White House, but how many are doing so while suggesting they know what Biden's agenda is better than he is.
Sen. Bernie Sanders' urging of House progressives to sink the bipartisan infrastructure bill unless the far larger social-spending package also moves along is a case in point. Republican opposition to Biden has long been unquestioned, but Democrats' commitment to him now very much is.
The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper
As the federal government barrels toward a possible shutdown, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is sounding the alarm.
Yellen penned a letter to congressional leadership Tuesday, warning that if Congress doesn't act by Oct. 18, the U.S. could default on its debts. That scenario would send financial markets into a tailspin.
"Even coming close to the deadline without raising the debt ceiling can undermine the confidence of financial markets," Yellen said during testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. She later added, "This would be a manufactured crisis we had imposed on this country, which has been going through a very difficult period and is on the road to recovery. This would be a self-inflicted wound of enormous proportions."
Despite the warning of potentially dire consequences, Republicans have remained steadfast in their quest to keep Democrats from raising the debt ceiling, even blocking an attempt by Democrats to go it alone to raise the debt limit Tuesday.
"There is no chance, no chance the Republican conference will go out of our way to help Dems conserve their time and energy so they can resume ramming through partisan socialism as fast as possible," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
It is important to note that raising the debt ceiling wouldn't be to pay for new spending, but would finance debt incurred mostly by past administrations. According to Yellen, failure to act could put Social Security checks in jeopardy, prevent troops from getting paid and even send the economy into recession.
The TIP with Quinn Scanlan
During the final Virginia gubernatorial debate, Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin sparred over vaccine mandates, abortion, education and how best to rebuild the commonwealth's economy coming out of the pandemic. But throughout the hourlong event, one man not on stage -- and no longer in office -- was a recurring presence.
McAuliffe's recurring strategy of tying Youngkin to former President Donald Trump, who has endorsed the GOP nominee, could work, seeing as Trump lost by a 10-point margin there in November. But it's a tactic Youngkin is familiar with by now, and when McAuliffe named-checked Trump to attack Youngkin, the former private equity executive opted not to engage at all -- except in one notable moment.
It came after McAuliffe mentioned Trump eight times in his minute-long response to a question about election integrity, accusing Youngkin of being "bought and paid for by" the former president.
"Terry, you just made folks in Las Vegas a lot of money. ... There's an over and under tonight on how many times you're going to say Donald Trump, and it was 10 and you just busted through it," Youngkin quipped. "You're running against Glenn Youngkin. ... Let's have Terry McAuliffe versus Glenn Youngkin and let's let Virginia voters decide who they want their next governor to be."
But later, when asked if he would support Trump if he was the GOP nominee in 2024, Youngkin said he would. Was it a resounding endorsement of a Trump primary bid? No. Will the soundbite make its way into a future McAuliffe attack ad? The folks in Vegas may be taking bets.
ONE MORE THING
As Biden faces a critical moment for his agenda, Americans' confidence in his handling of a range of issues is eroding, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll found. Compared to an ABC News/Ipsos poll from August, public approval of how Biden is handling key issues -- the pandemic, immigration and the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, gun violence and even rebuilding the nation's infrastructure, the issue he's pushing this week -- is on the decline. Dissatisfaction among Republicans and independents is fueling the decline, but the president's ratings are also hampered by more lackluster approval among members of his own party than presidents typically enjoy. https://abcn.ws/3ujqCjr
ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. On Wednesday's episode, ABC News' Trish Turner explains the last-minute hiccups in Democrats' infrastructure discussion. Then, ESPN's Baxter Holmes describes the effect of the vaccine mandate on your favorite NBA team. And, a new ABC data project takes a look at racial inequity in the U.S. Creators John Kelly and Mark Nichols tell us what they found. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.
The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.