Well, we know we’ve been here before, but don’t blame us. Blame the reality of getting anything done in Washington. Doesn’t look like this will be the week that President Biden gets his agenda through the Democratic Congress. How will that impact Terry McAuliffe as we head into the final weekend before the tight gubernatorial election in Virginia? We give our take on where things stand and where they might go and then a fun tidbit.
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(cover photo cred: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images News)
The Final Framework?
Well… the plane is still circling the airport…
As Democrats approached the latest deadline, President Biden went to Capitol Hill and then addressed the country as he unveiled the framework for his Build Back Better plan at $1.75 trillion. There will be a lot of back and forth about what didn't get in and why, but I think the most important thing (assuming they can get an agreement!) is what is in this proposal is nothing short of historic. Historic for its investment in early childhood education, historic for the child tax credit giving families a tax cut, historic for increasing access to health care and making premiums for insurance even more affordable, and historic for the funding to make a difference in fighting climate change. There will be plenty of time for hand wringing, but we shouldn't lose sight of what is in the legislation, just because something isn't in there. And that's not to say that important things aren't in there. We know that, but to say this isn’t an important moment for Democrats in Congress and the Biden presidency would be an understatement.
So where does that leave us? As you all know by now, the legislation didn’t get passed yesterday and no vote was held on the bipartisan infrastructure agreement. It is obvious that there is a lot of distrust between moderates and progressives in the Democratic caucus. Based on reporting we’ve all read, Biden didn’t ask for, let alone push for, the infrastructure vote when he spoke to the House Democrats yesterday morning. As a longtime Senator, he may have sensed pushing too hard might hurt more than it helped.
Here’s the good news. By day’s end yesterday, there was exhaustion but new optimism. Progressives met with Senator Sinema and left believing this deal would pass. In the end, that’s what matters. That this a while and was messy is how big legislation gets done. It isn’t pretty but it’s the final product that matters the most.
I still continue to feel optimistic that we'll get something done. Whether we're going to get an agreement next week or a few days later, that’s the $1.75 trillion question. Readers will know we’re in the familiar position of it being the new most important week of the Biden administration. It's a new framework and we are once again close to getting it done, but not quite done yet. Murphy?
I think I just saw yet another flaming locomotive wheel fly past my office window. This is what a real mess looks like. The President of the United States pushes all his chips on the table and asks his party to help and… 30 back bench left-wingers say no and torpedo the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill because boo-hoo they don’t have enough Proggy votes to get the huge multi-Trillion spending bill they want. Speaker Pelosi was trying to throw a floatation device to Terry McAuliffe – who seems to be in real trouble now – but the Progs thwarted that and threw the poor Virginian a Battleship anchor instead. I doubt the BIP this late would deliver McAuliffe from all his troubles, but Lordy, anything might help. Yet the Safe-Seat Squad seems to care less. I picture the former GOP Speaker sitting in Ohio watching all this, sighing, putting down the bong and having a case of good whiskey immediately sent to Nancy. He knows what life was like for a sane grown-up Regular during the grim days of the GOP’s crank and destructive “Freedom Caucus.” Now the Democrats are seeing what hostage politics feels like. Maybe the Democrats will finally pass something next week. One way I’m pretty sure that will indeed happen and happen fast! A Victory speech Tuesday night by Virginia governor/elect Glenn Youngkin. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ideologically not on board the Biden Spending Plan (but I love the BIP and I’m glad the spending plan is getting smaller and more reasonable) but at heart I’m a regular so these stupid antics of the pouting Progs, well, they actually make me feel sorry for Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi.
The Final Countdown in VA
It’s, of course, the big last weekend before the important off-year elections, including the McAuliffe gubernatorial race in Virginia. I heard from a good Republican on Wednesday that they literally had seen polls giving whatever outcome either side might want to hear—one up, one even, and one down for McAuliffe. Then there’s the new Washington Post poll that shows the race to be a toss up.
So, I think by all accounts, it looks from the polling to be a jump ball heading into an important weekend of getting the early vote out (which is being done very differently than it’s been done before). It's greatly expanded and lots of procedures instituted as a result of the pandemic, they’ve kept and made it easier to cast your ballot. But as much as we all want to think that we can look at an early vote and tell who's going to do well and who isn't, it's really hard until you know the composition of the overall electorate. Either way, it's really important and it's exactly why you've continued to see this parade of Democratic acolytes from Stacey Abrams to former President Obama to the First Lady to President Biden continuing to pay their respects to Virginia voters to get Democrats excited to get out to vote.
Among all registered voters in that poll, it’s much like the other latest polls; tied within the margin of error (Youngkin +1). Still, the reasons the Dems are freaking out is the trends have all been bad for McAuliffe. The smart move is to look at the same polls, over time, to compare the apple to apple trend. And that news is grim for the Democrats; it’s been a definite multi-week move toward Youngkin and away from McAuliffe. It is a tied race, but if you force me to bet, my money is on Youngkin to win. It’s moving his way and the Keystone Kops stuff going on with the Progs in House, as well as Joe Biden’s declining numbers, is very bad mojo. I wouldn’t bet the farm on Youngkin, but I’d bet a solid used tractor. And if the trend continues, it is very possible Youngkin’s win will not be a squeaker, but several comfortable points. I hope Youngkin sends a nice thank you note to AOC (D-Insane TwitterSphere) and her pals. I miss Joe Crowley.
Axe, Gibbs and I will be up Wednesday with a special post-election edition of our Hacks on Tap podcast.
My Tidbit is a plug! My comedian/Simpsons Writer/Man about town Dana Gould has launched his own Bulletin newsletter. It’s a hoot; focused on great oddball Tinseltown back stories. If you like movies (especially horror and sci-fi) check it out. (BTW, Google Dana’s Dr Zaius imitation from the Planet of the Apes! Yes, he owns the suit.).
We hope you have a great weekend and we’ll see you back here on Election Day 2021!
Murphy and Gibbs