The TAKE with Rick Klein
For as bad as things look right now -- for the country and for the party in power in Washington -- they could get a whole lot worse.
For as tempting as political solutions may seem -- and as easy as they are to call for, or to advocate against -- they remain simultaneously difficult to achieve and hard to imagine making a major difference.
President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress come back to town for a critical month of legislating while facing cascading challenges that defy easy answers. inflation, gas prices and now another COVID-19 variant represent forces that would challenge the best of political environments.
This is decidedly not one of them. It sets up what's likely to be a familiar but almost certainly unsatisfying series of debates that run the risk of keeping Democrats politically disconnected from the challenges many Americans face at the moment.
Biden has already used the single best weapon at his disposal when it comes to gas prices, and is too far into a spending-bill push to change course when it comes to economic policies. The only real answer when it comes to COVID, meanwhile, is to push vaccinations and contemplate further mandates -- polarizing solutions that haven't changed for the better part of a year.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., channeled Toby Keith on ABC's "This Week," quoting an "old song" she said has the answers for her party.
"A little less talk and a lot more action," she said.
It will have to be a month of action, given the critical deadlines lined up before the end of the year. Whether the actions change Democrats' fortunes is another question entirely.
The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper
As anxiety mounts over the discovery of another COVID-19 variant, the Biden administration could be forced to confront another obstacle on the path to economic recovery.
Over the long holiday weekend, the Biden administration set new travel restrictions on several countries in southern Africa, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency and financial markets took a nosedive -- all in connection to the new omicron variant.
Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC's "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos that the variant might evade protections from monoclonal antibodies and "perhaps even antibodies that are induced by vaccine."
Fauci also said Sunday that studies already underway should provide more clarity on the variant in about two weeks.
Last week, Biden told Americans to have "confidence about the economy that we're building" and "confidence in the future," but with few answers immediately available on the transmissibility of the variant and susceptibility of vaccinated people to it, that economic confidence could be on shaky ground.
The TIP with Meg Cunningham
As the House comes back into session this week, Democratic leaders are calling for action against Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., after video where she made bigoted, anti-Muslim comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., surfaced online.
Boebert issued an apology to "anyone in the Muslim community I offended," and added that she has reached out to Omar's office to set up a meeting. Meanwhile, Omar is calling for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to take action against Boebert.
Pelosi also targeted McCarthy in a statement, calling on him to "address this priority with the Congresswoman and to finally take real action to confront racism." McCarthy said in a statement that he spoke with House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer to set a meeting for the two congresswomen.
ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Monday morning's episode begins with the global concern over the omicron variant and what the U.S. can do to prepare. ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton breaks down what we know about the new variant. Then, ABC News White House Correspondent MaryAlice Parks reports on lawmakers' return to Capitol Hill with looming decisions to make on the debt ceiling and government funding. And, the sex-trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell is set to begin with opening statements. ABC News Senior Investigative Reporter Aaron Katersky previews the highly-anticipated trial. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
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