The Note’s Must-Reads for Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jan 19, 2011 4:05am

The Note's Must-Reads are a round-up of today's political headlines and stories from ABC News and the top U.S. newspapers. Posted Monday through Friday right here at www.abcnews.com

Compiled by ABC News Digital News Associates and Desk Assistants JACQUELINE NG FERNANDEZ, CLAUDIA MORALES, JAYCE HENDERSON, MELISSA NOEL and MOLLY HUNTER

DEMOCRATS
The Wall Street Journal’s Janet Hook: “Conrad’s Exit to Pressure Democrats” Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota announced Tuesday that he wouldn't seek re-election, denting his party's hopes of retaining its Senate majority in 2012. LINK

The Boston Globe’s Michael Levenson: “Patrick proposal would reshape public pensions” Nearly all future state and municipal employees would work five years longer, contribute more to their pensions, and have their benefits slashed if they retire early under a bill Governor Deval Patrick and legislative leaders unveiled yesterday. Eighteen months after state leaders eliminated loopholes in the pension system, the new proposal would go beyond merely curbing abuses. LINK 

GOP
The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser and Mark Arsenault:  “Ultimate GOP aim is a slimmer health plan” A health care repeal vote expected today will send a highly symbolic political message — the icing on the midterm elections that gave Republicans control of the House — but the GOP’s effort to undermine the rollout of the contentious measure and put its own imprint on health care will probably hinge on smaller attempts to change the law. LINK

Newsweek’s Ben Adler: “Conservatives Make Inaccurate Arguments Against Gun Control” Gun control is back in Washington in the wake of Arizona's tragic mass shooting. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) introduced last week a ban on high-capacity clips and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) said on Sunday that he supports reinstating the expired assault-weapons ban. LINK

HEALTH CARE
New York Daily News’ Meena Hartenstein: “Americans are still split on health care reform, but only 18% favor a total repeal: poll”   Though Republicans have vowed  to get rid  of Obama’s sweeping  health care  reform  as quickly as possible , it turns out most Americans don’t  want the legislation repealed entirely . A new Washington Post- ABC News poll released Tuesday found that only 18% are in favor of completely ejecting the health care overhaul passed last  year, which Republican dubbed “Obamacare.” LINK

FOREIGN AFFAIRS:
The New York Times’ Helene Cooper and Mark Landler: “U.S. Shifts Focus to Press China for Market Access” A year ago, the fight over how China’s cheap currency was hurting American companies in marketplaces at home and abroad was shaping up to be the epic battle between the world’s biggest power and its biggest economic rival. LINK

The Washington Post’s John Pomfret: “Hu faces an Obama administration more hard-nosed about Chinese Government” The arrival of Chinese President Hu Jintao in the United States brings him face to face with an Obama administration that has grown more hard-nosed about the course of what is arguably the most important relationship the United States maintains with a foreign power. LINK

OTHER
USA Today’s Brad Heath and Kevin McCoy: “Justice Dept. office to punish prosecutors’ misconduct” The Justice Department created a new internal watchdog office on Tuesday to make sure federal prosecutors face swifter and more consistent punishment if investigators find that they committed misconduct. LINK

The Hill’s Sean J. Mller and Shane D’Aprile: “Lieberman, Conrad Will Bow Out” Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) have dealt a blow to Democrats’ faint hopes of keeping the majority in the Senate after the 2012 election. Conrad announced Tuesday he will not run for reelection, and Lieberman, an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, is expected to announce the same Wednesday afternoon.

ABC NEWS VIDEO
ABC News: Schultz : “Repeal ‘Playing To The Vanity’ of Extreme Right” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz D-FL., talks about health care repeal at hearing. LINK

ABC News: Steve King: “ Steven King: ‘Repeal Could ‘Pass In The Senate’“ LINK

ABC’s  Jonathan Karl: “Lieberman, Conrad Retiring: Who’s Next?” One day, two retirements. Senator Joe Lieberman called Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday to tell him he is not running for re-election in 2012. That's actually good news for Democrats. Although the Independent Lieberman is a member of the Democratic caucus, his decision to retire makes it easier for Democrats to hang on to his Connecticut Senate seat. LINK

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