The Note’s Must-Reads for Tuesday May 31st, 2011

By Jayson

May 31, 2011 4:12am

Compiled by ABC News Digital News Associates Claudia Morales, Jacqueline Fernandez, Jayson Henderson and Desk Assistant Amanda VanAllen

The New York Times’ Robert Pear: “Medicare Plan for Payments Irks Hospitals” For the first time in its history, Medicare will soon track spending on millions of individual beneficiaries, reward hospitals that hold down costs and penalize those whose patients prove most expensive. LINK

The Hills’ Julian Pecquet and Jamie Klatell: “Who Said That? Dems and GOP Display Dizzying Shift on Medicare” Just a little over a year ago, Rep.  John Boehner (R-Ohio) took to the House floor to warn America of the perils facing seniors if Democrats’ healthcare reform bill wasn't stopped. “Can you go home and tell your senior citizens that these cuts in Medicare will not limit their access to doctors or further weaken the program instead of strengthening it? No, you cannot,” the then-minority leader asked his colleagues last March. LINK

The Washington Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran: “Cost of war in Afghanistan will be major factor in troop-reduction talks” Of all the statistics that President Obama’s national security team will consider when it debates the size of forthcoming troop reductions in Afghanistan, the most influential number probably will not be how many insurgents have been killed or the amount of territory wrested from the Taliban, according to aides to those who will participate. LINK

Politico’s David Rogers: “House Democrats unite on Afghanistan exit” It’s more angst than outright anger, but House Democrats are showing real unity for the first time in pressuring President Barack Obama on Afghanistan — with influential moderates now expressing their impatience alongside the anti-war left that drove the early Iraq war debate.  There’s no immediate threat to war funding, but the shift in the president’s party can’t be ignored by the White House going into the 2012 elections.  LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Gerald F. Seib: “U.S., Pakistan, Through Thick and Thin” One diplomat long involved in the tempestuous U.S.-Pakistan relationship likens it to a Catholic marriage: There may be problems, but divorce isn't an option. LINK

G.O.P. / 2012 ELECTION:
The Washington Post’s Amy Gardner: “Republicans brace for tough 2012 fight against Obama in unlikely place – N.C.” By any number of indicators, President Obama shouldn’t have much of a chance in North Carolina next year. In no state was Obama’s 2008 win closer — he won by just 14,177 votes, or 0.3 percent of the electorate — and he’s less popular now. The economy, now Obama’s economy, is in worse shape. And voters here have turned against many Democrats, ousting a congressman and a slew of state lawmakers last fall. LINK

Bloomberg’s  Julie Hirschfeld Davis: “Palin Shakes Up Republican Presidential Field While Keeping Mum on Plans”  Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is shaking up a Republican presidential field just starting to take shape, injecting her unconventional campaigning and celebrity into what had been a sleepy start to the party’s 2012 primaries. It’s not clear what Palin, 47, is up to as she travels the East Coast on a deluxe tour bus emblazoned with a Liberty Bell and phrases from the Constitution and the Pledge of Allegiance — whether she will choose to run for president or how she will seek to affect the race with her re-emergence on the national scene.  LINK

ABC News’ Ann Compton and Avery Miller: “Obama Appoints Martin Dempsey as Joint Chiefs Chairman, in a Hurry to Get New Military Team in Place” In a hurry for what he called a "seamless" transition in war time,  President Obama has nominated more promotions from within as he reshapes his military team, today  choosing four-star Army Gen. Martin Dempsey as the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "Martin Dempsey is one of our nation’s most respected — and combat-tested generals," the president declared in a hot and sunny Rose Garden announcement this morning. "I expect him to push all our forces to continue adapting and innovating to be ready for the missions of today and tomorrow." LINK

USA Today’s Richard Wolf: “Biden plays dealmaker on deficits, debt” Since Republicans won a share of power in Congress last November, they've struck deals with Democrats on about $900 billion in tax cuts and $38 billion in spending cuts. Now the two sides are talking about something far more ambitious: $4 trillion in deficit cuts. LINK

LA Times’ Michael J. Mishak: “Bill Would Let Counties Opt out of U.S. Immigration Enforcement Program” California lawmakers have taken steps to opt out of a controversial federal immigration enforcement program, joining a growing number of states that say it harms public safety and undermines local law enforcement. Under the Secure Communities program, fingerprints of all arrestees booked into local jails and cross-checked with the FBI’s criminal database are forwarded to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for screening. Officials said the system, launched in 2008, is intended to identify and deport illegal immigrants convicted of serious crimes such as murder, rape and kidnapping. LINK

Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Day ServiceLINK
Sarah Palin: 'This Isn't a Campaign Bus'” LINK
Obama Announces Military Leadership ChangesLINK

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