POLITICO Playbook: Big obstacles await Biden after big win

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DRIVING THE DAY

SIREN — A new national poll from USA TODAY/Suffolk University pegs President JOE BIDEN’s approval rating at 38%. Things are worse for VP KAMALA HARRIS, who scores a 28% job approval.

Other bad numbers in the poll:

— 16% of those who voted for him say Biden has done a worse job as president than they expected.

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— 44% of independents say he’s done worse than they expected.

— 64% say they don’t want Biden to run for reelection, including 28% of Democrats.

Silver lining: The survey was conducted Wednesday through Friday, after the Democrats’ Election Day drubbing but before passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which receives high marks in the poll (61% support).

BIG OBSTACLES AHEAD FOR BIDEN: Congress is out this week and the Biden administration will spend much of the next few days promoting the benefits of BIF, making the case for the reconciliation bill and pushing parents and schools to get kids vaccinated.

So enjoy a brief window of calm in between last week’s Virginia and BIF news and the holiday insanity coming to Congress.

The must-read of the day to get prepared for what’s coming is this WSJ piece by Nick Timiraos, Natalie Andrews and Ian Talley on the obstacles looming for Biden:

— “Economic headwinds,” especially inflation.

— The CBO score that moderates want on the reconciliation bill might take several weeks.

— The Democrats’ latest immigration proposal for the bill may not survive the Byrd rule.

— The SALT changes, which many Democrats see as a giveaway to the rich, are uncertain: “The House’s plan to raise the $10,000 cap on the state and local tax deduction to $80,000 for nine years also faces possible revisions in the Senate because of opposition from some lawmakers.”

— Whatever passes the House will have to be ping-ponged back after the Senate makes its changes, “meaning Democrats could still be working on the legislation until the end of the year.”

— The government will shut down Dec. 3 absent a new spending deal and the debt ceiling needs to be raised, but Senate Minority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL “said last month that he wouldn’t again line up the votes to increase the debt ceiling through the regular process, making it unclear how Democrats will pass a bill to avoid the U.S. defaulting on its debt.”

SENATE AND HOUSE LANDSCAPE DEEP DIVES: The midterms are a year from today.

Natalie Allison looks at the race for the Senate:

“Democrats go into the midterm election with one advantage — a favorable map that gives some reason to think the party can hold its miniscule Senate majority next year.

“But it’s not going to be enough on its own to save them in the current political environment.

“Not after what Tuesday’s election results revealed. Double-digit swings toward the GOP in races in Virginia and New Jersey last week suggest the seats Democrats narrowly won in recent special elections in Georgia and Arizona will prove difficult to defend, and the Senate playing field could be expanded by the addition of one or more top-tier GOP challengers.

“While the 2022 map overall tilts slightly in their favor — sparing the party from defending Senate seats in any states DONALD TRUMP won last year, and giving Democrats multiple pickup opportunities thanks to retiring Republicans — historic midterm trends are working against the party. So is President Joe Biden’s tanking approval rating.”

Ally Mutnick reports on the battle to control the House:

“Republicans could hardly be better poised to recapture the House majority. Increasingly aggressive redistricting, a diverse slate of candidates raking in record-breaking amounts of cash and a political atmosphere that just keeps getting more favorable has Democrats watching with a growing sense of dread.”

Related: Republicans now lead Democrats in RealClearPolitics’ generic congressional ballot.

More: Another election post-mortem in the New York Times with a focus on Long Island’s Nassau County after Democrats suffered big losses in a county where they outnumbered Republicans.

Good Monday morning, and thanks for reading Playbook. Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri.

SUBURBAN MOMS ON GLENN YOUNGKIN: CNN’s Pamela Brown sat down with four suburban women who voted for Biden last year and for Youngkin on Tuesday. The interview tracks with other post-mortems that emphasize the Democrats’ missed opportunity in taking the education issue more seriously.

Some key quotes …

On how at-home learning during the pandemic was their big issue: “Our kids are in crisis. The learning loss is real. … Mandates and CRT did not influence my decision. At all.”

On Youngkin taking the issue more seriously than TERRY MCAULIFFE: “Glenn — he listened to us. … He spent a lot of one-on-one time with parents.”

“Terry seemed to be campaigning everywhere but Virginia.”

On BARACK OBAMA campaigning for McAuliffe and describing education issues as “phony, trumped-up culture wars”: “Offensive. … They were really dismissive.”

On McAuliffe focusing so much on Trump: “I felt like it was really tone-deaf to just discount parents and the whole educational struggle and make it about Trump all of the time.”

On Youngkin keeping Trump out of the state: “I told him if you bring Donald Trump into Virginia I’m not helping you.”

BIDEN’S MONDAY:

— 8:45 a.m.: The Bidens will leave Rehoboth Beach, Del., to return to D.C., arriving at the White House at 9:40 a.m.

— 10:15 a.m.: Biden and Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief.

— 2:50 p.m.: Biden will honor the NBA champions Milwaukee Bucks on the South Lawn.

HARRIS’ MONDAY:

— 9:30 p.m.: Harris and second gentleman DOUG EMHOFF will depart D.C. en route to Paris.

Principal deputy press secretary KARINE JEAN-PIERRE will brief at 1 p.m. with Transportation Secretary PETE BUTTIGIEG.

THE SENATE and THE HOUSE are out.

BIDEN’S WEEK AHEAD: The president will head to the Port of Baltimore on Wednesday to tout the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

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ALL POLITICS

POKING THE BEAR — Coming off last week’s electoral romp, GOP officials at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas over the weekend expressed differing views as to whether the party “could replicate their decisive gains with suburban voters, especially women, if Trump remained the face of the party,” NYT’s Jeremy Peters reports. “The most notable Trump skeptic was former Gov. CHRIS CHRISTIE of New Jersey, who … said that the party would be making a grave mistake if it did not recommit itself to truth-telling.”

THE VIEW FROM K STREET — Republican lawmakers appear more likely to take back congressional power in 2022. And corporate America is apparently noticing, Hailey Fuchs reports. “Interviews with about a half-dozen GOP-connected lobbyists reveal that the results of the off-year election bode well for the party’s fundraising from companies that had soured on giving after Jan. 6.”

HOW WE GOT HERE — In a new excerpt from his forthcoming book, “Misfire: Inside the Downfall of the NRA,” Tim Mak examines how the NRA doubled down on its culture war strategy in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., shooting in 2013 — tanking a gun-control bill it had helped negotiate and never looking back. More from POLITICO Magazine

CLYBURN TO ENDORSE IN WISCONSINThe Daily Beast is reporting that House Majority Whip JIM CLYBURN (D-S.C.) is using his powerful endorsement in the Wisconsin Senate race to back MANDELA BARNES, the lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, in the primary challenge for the seat being held by Sen. RON JOHNSON (R-Wis.).

(IR)RECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES

THE THRILL OF VICTORY — With the infrastructure bill finally heading to Biden’s desk, WaPo’s Matt Viser takes stock of his achievement. “Biden seemed to relish not only besting his predecessor, but also doing so in a bipartisan way that to him began to validate the kind of politics that Biden seeks to practice,” he writes.

“At a time of tribal warfare and balkanized politics, Biden could fairly tout legislation that was supported by top Senate Republicans such as Mitch McConnell — and in many ways saved when 13 Republican House members backed it late Friday night as six Democrats voted against.”

THE PANDEMIC

THE NEXT VACCINATION PUSH — The White House is kicking off a new effort to get children ages 5-11 vaccinated against Covid-19. HHS Secretary XAVIER BECERRA and Education Secretary MIGUEL CARDONA are sending a Dear Colleague letter to superintendents and elementary school principals, urging them to help get students vaccinated and disseminate information. First lady JILL BIDEN will also visit a series of children’s vaccination sites around the country in the coming weeks, beginning with a stop in McLean, Va., with Surgeon General VIVEK MURTHY today. The letter

CLIMATE FILES

FAKE DATA — A WaPo investigation published Sunday found that countries across the world are underreporting their greenhouse gas emissions to the U.N. “An examination of 196 country reports reveals a giant gap between what nations declare their emissions to be versus the greenhouse gases they are sending into the atmosphere. The gap ranges from at least 8.5 billion to as high as 13.3 billion tons a year of underreported emissions — big enough to move the needle on how much the Earth will warm.”

The upshot: “The plan to save the world from the worst of climate change is built on data. But the data the world is relying on is inaccurate.”

PLAYBOOKERS

Michael Cohen was mistaken for Michael Cohen, and a big correction ensued.

Joe Biden praised Big Bird after the feathered friend announced he got vaccinated. “Good on ya, @BigBird. Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep your whole neighborhood safe,” POTUS wrote on Twitter.

Dana Bash paid tribute to her mentor, the late Cokie Roberts, and discussed a new book about her by her husband, Steven Roberts, “Cokie: A Life Well Lived.”

Jim Clyburn, Liz Cheney and Chris Wallace received the Panetta Institute’s Jefferson-Lincoln Awards on Saturday night at a black tie gala in Pebble Beach, Calif.

SPOTTED: Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) heading into the Capital Yacht Club at the Wharf.

LIVING HISTORY — NBC’s Matt Lavietes got a sneak peek of “Mayor Pete,” a documentary about Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential run set to premiere on Amazon Prime Video on Friday. “While Washington buffs may devour some of its politically juicy moments — several scenes show Buttigieg’s communications director, Lis Smith, shouting at him during his debate prep — the film gives viewers an up-close look at how Buttigieg navigated and cemented his legacy in LGBTQ history,” Lavietes writes.

OUT AND ABOUT — The Republican National Lawyers Association honored Elliot Berke as the 2021 Republican Lawyer of the Year at an event Friday at the Pearl Street Warehouse. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke, and there were video tributes from Robert Duvall, Billy Gibbon, Billy Idol, Billy Duffy, Carl Palmer, Geoff Downes, Buck Dharma and Mike Peters. Berke’s band The Deplorables performed a set. Also SPOTTED: Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Scott Brown.

MEDIA MOVE — Neil McCabe is starting as national political editor for the Star News Network, which includes The Tennessee Star. He just returned to Washington after a 10-month Army Reserve deployment to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, and is a former Breitbart and One America News reporter.

TRANSITIONS — Molly Block is now comms director for Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.). She most recently was press secretary for Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). … Justin Discigil is moving up to be chief of staff for Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas). He previously was comms director. Alyssa Anderson is moving up to be deputy chief of staff.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) … ABC’s David Muir … Blackstone’s Wayne BermanKaren Sherman of the Akilah Institute … Holland & Knight’s Leon Fresco … WaPo’s Tory Newmyer … POLITICO’s Roger Jeannotte … L.A. Times’ Jackeline LunaMatt Sandgren of Innovative Policy … Amazon’s Erin Cohan … Council of State Governments Justice Center’s Jay Nelson Ira Magaziner Johanny Adames of the Latino Victory Project … Ben Williamson … AARP’s John HishtaWeston LoydKelsey Suter of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner … Courtney Stamm … Latham and Watkins’ Christopher Martin Bob JonesCharlotte LawKelly Jane TorranceAshley HigginsMichael D. BrownRichard SocaridesLaurie Moskowitz Andrew Turner

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Send Playbookers tips to [email protected]. Playbook couldn’t happen without our editor Mike Zapler, deputy editor Zack Stanton and producers Allie Bice, Eli Okun and Garrett Ross.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this Playbook mistakenly wished a happy birthday to the late former Rep. Dennis Moore (D-Kan.).

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