The Note’s Must-Reads for Thursday, July 21, 2011

By Jayson

Jul 21, 2011 3:12am

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 Jayce Henderson, Jacqueline Fernandez and Desk Assistant Amanda VanAllen

PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEBT CRISIS:
ABC News’ Amy Bingham: “The 14th Amendment: A Debt Ceiling Back-Up Plan?” With political stalemate hovering above the debt limit negotiations, some people are turning to the Constitution in search of a last-ditch plan to avoid all-out financial disaster. Former President Bill Clinton and some constitutional scholars have argued that the 14th Amendment gives the president authority to raise the debt ceiling without congressional approval. LINK

The New York Times’ Carl Hulse and Jackie Calmes: “Push Intensifies for Larger Deal on Debt Impasse” With the clock ticking down, President Obamaand Congressional leaders began a final effort to forge a broad deficit-reduction plan even as new cracks appeared among House Republicans over how to proceed. LINK

The Washington Times’ Dave Boyer: “Obama amendable to brief debt deal” The White House retreated Wednesday from President Obama’s vow to veto any short-term increase in the nation’s debt limit, opening the door wider to a bipartisan Senate compromise plan to boost borrowing for now in exchange for a promise by Congress to cut spending later. LINK

Bloomberg’s Mike Dorning and Julie Hirschfeld Davis: “Grand Bargain Returns to U.S. Debt Talks” For all the obstacles to a grand bargain in the U.S. debt talks, negotiators have opened a path to a potential compromise that could reduce the deficit through new revenue combined with spending cuts. LINK

Politico’s David Rogers: “Debt limit compromise resisted by House GOP” President Barack Obama called congressional leaders back to the White House Wednesday, still chasing his big deficit deal but knowing, too, that with each passing day, the focus is less on policy than the more practical tactics and political muscle needed to avert default next month. LINK

The Hills’ Russell Berman and Sam Youngman: “Sides edging toward a short-term deal to increase the debt limit” Members of the Senate’s Gang of Six began on Wednesday to sell the group’s bipartisan deficit-reduction proposal to House Democrats as the likelihood grew that lawmakers would need to approve a short-term increase to the $14.3 trillion debt limit. The pressure of the ticking clock weighed on officials both in the White House and at the Capitol, who cheered the new Senate proposal but acknowledged there was not enough time to enact it before the Aug. 2 deadline to avoid an unprecedented default by the U.S. government. LINK

USA Todays’ Richard Wolf and David Jackson: “Deficit cuts sought as debt-limit deadline approaches” President Obama and Senate backers of a $3.7 trillion deficit-reduction plan that includes tax increases pressed their case Wednesday, even as time dwindled for raising the government's $14.3 trillion borrowing limit. The combination of a popular new plan offered by a bipartisan group of senators, the "Gang of Six," and the lack of time to enact it into law by Aug. 2 pointed toward a two-step process: raise the debt limit first, deal with red ink later. LINK

Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Mascaro: “Opposition to a deal with Obama creates problems for GOP” As the debt ceiling debate enters its final stages, House Republicans face increasing political isolation in their opposition to sweeping budget reforms that President Obama has pushed for and polls show most Americans now prefer. Republican resistance to compromise has turned a significant bloc of voters against them, according to several new polls, and has frustrated members of their own leadership as well as establishment GOP figures. LINK

New York Daily News’ Thomas M. Defrank: “Obama touts 'progress' in debt crisis – but no deal – as deadline looms”The debt-deal posturing escalated Monday – which could mean an agreement is actually, finally near. "We're making progress," President Obama said Monday at the end of a Rose Garden ceremony, but otherwise both sides were silent on the status of hush-hush negotiations – except for the red meat rhetoric. LINK

2012 PRESIDENTIAL RACE:
The Washington Post’s Jon Cohen and Dan Balz: “Poll: Romney still ahead, but with big vulnerabilities in quest for GOP nod” Mitt Romney leads the wide-open contest for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. But a new Washington Post-ABC News poll underscores his vulnerabilities as a front-runner, as well as Sarah Palin’s lingering power to shake up the race if she decides to run. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Patrick O’Connor: “Bachmann Scrutiny Rises With Poll Surge” NORWALK, Iowa—Michele Bachmann has captivated conservative activists here as she pushes to establish herself as a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination. That fast start comes amid new scrutiny of her background and physical health as she seeks to translate grass-roots enthusiasm for her campaign into votes at a crucial straw poll next month in Ames. LINK

HEALTH CARE:
Boston Globe’s Shira Schoenberg: “Gang of Six drop long term care plan” A new insurance program for long-term care may fall casualty to the so-called “Gang of Six” plan to address the federal deficit. A little-noticed provision of President Obama’s health care reform established a voluntary insurance program for in-home care, where individuals would pay premiums, then receive cash benefits should they become disabled and unable to perform basic functions like eating or dressing themselves. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS:
Pawlenty Comments on Bachmann's MigrainesLINK
What Would President Bartlet Do?” LINK
Rep. Levin: 'Can't Come Together in 13 Days'LINK
Debt-Ceiling Deal: Obama Expresses OptimismLINK

BOOKMARKS:
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