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« A Rough Weekend for Harry Reid | Blog Home Page | GOP Pushing Reid To Step Down »

The Week Ahead: Game Changers

Sunday made for a great day of TV -- the Arizona Cardinals topped Green Bay in overtime after combining to score nearly 100 points, and one of our favorite shows of all time turned 20. Now let's take a look at what Monday and beyond holds in store for us in The Week Ahead:

The White House: What happened to the "hard pivot" back to the economy? The Christmas terror plot delayed that somewhat, but it is expected to be on display this week in the White House. At the same time, President Obama will make a visit to Capitol Hill midweek to meet with Democrats on health care. There is sure to be some increased pressure to move quickly, with the yet-to-be-scheduled State of the Union address looming, and perhaps some nervousness about the potential for a Republican upset in the Massachusetts special election next week.

The President's schedule for the week is light on details for the week, but today's rundown includes a meeting with labor leaders. Thursday, he'll speak at a forum on modernizing government. Also on tap: a Tuesday meeting between the president and female golfers. Vice President Biden remains in Wilmington, where services are scheduled Monday and Tuesday for his late mother, Jean Finnegan Biden.

The Capitol: "Vacation" is officially over for representatives in the House, which opens for business again Tuesday at noon. Of course, Democratic leadership has been back for a week continuing the push for a health care reform compromise with the Senate, which doesn't return to session until next week. A few outside factors -- which we delve into in the next section -- have added increased incentive for Democrats to get something done quickly.

As for the year ahead, no matter what happens with health care, the president and Congress have indicated that jobs will be a legislative priority in the second session of the 111th Congress. Another issue to watch for is immigration reform -- 80 House Dems introduced a new resolution in mid-December.

Politics: So much to talk about -- where to begin. The fallout from "Game Change," a new book from Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, has rocked the political world with salacious details about the 2008 presidential campaign. Harry Reid is looking to put controversial comments about Obama's race behind him. Politico reported on a claim in the book over tension between running mates Obama and Biden. An excerpt about John Edwards will bring his scandal back to the forefront. And "60 Minutes" featured new-ish details about Sarah Palin's chaotic run as John McCain's vice presidential nominee.

Michael Steele, plugging his own new book, will continue to be in the headlines as well. Reid's troubles made for a convenient distraction from increasingly public concerns from GOP types about his leadership. In the run-up to the RNC's winter meeting in Hawaii next week, look for more talk about his role.

State of the races: by week's end, we should have an official accounting of the fundraising totals for all the candidates for Congress this fall. FEC reports for the final quarter of 2009 should be public by Friday. Open Secrets had a good post this week using some already public numbers outlining some of the races on the House side where challengers had outraised incumbents.

Finally, this is the final week of campaigning in Massachusetts in the special election to finish Ted Kennedy's unexpired term. New polling this weekend showed very different results, but most Democrats will concede that it's closer than they'd like it to be. Make no mistake: if a Republican upset happens here with Scott Brown victorious, it will make the Democratic retirements this week look like the good old days. It also could mean health care never gets approved, at least in its current form. Bill Clinton headlines a Martha Coakley rally Friday. Perhaps Biden will be dispatched, or the president will record a TV ad. The candidates have one more debate tonight at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute.

Poll Watch:
Obama Job Performance: Approve 48.8 / Disapprove 46.0 (+2.8)
Congress Job Performance: Approve 27.4 / Disapprove 65.8 (-38.4)
Generic Ballot Test: Republicans +2.8

In Case You Missed It: Last night Fox marked the 20th anniversary of "The Simpsons," and the 450th episode. In honor of the great cartoon show we recall one of its great episodes, and what The Hotline (where both of us once worked) once called one of the greatest political satires ever: the season two show called "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish." That's when Mr. Burns runs for governor. No clips online, but here's a good summary.

--Kyle Trygstad and Mike Memoli