The Note’s Must-Reads for Wednesday, August 31, 2011

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

Compiled by ABC News Digital News Associates Jayce Henderson, Jacqueline Fernandez and Desk Assistant Amanda VanAllen


The New York Times’ Helene Cooper: “Obama Draws Line on Possible Cuts to Veterans Programs” President Obama vowed on Tuesday that he would not allow cuts in programs for veterans as Congress and the administration look for ways to balance the budget.  L INK 

The Hills’ Keith Laing: “Obama to push Congress for a new highway bill” President Obama on Wednesday will push Congress to pass a new surface transportation bill when it returns from recess next week, the White House announced Tuesday night.  The current version of the federal highway bill, which among other things allows Congress to collect the tax on gasoline sales, expires Sept. 30.  LINK 

USA Today’s  Fredreka Schouten and Alan Gomez: “House freshmen push bills that benefit big donors” Several House freshmen who swept into power vowing to change Washington’s ways are pushing legislation that could benefit some of their most generous campaign contributors, a USA TODAY review of legislative and campaign records shows. Five months after taking office, Rep. Stephen Fincher, a cotton farmer from a mostly rural swath of Tennessee, introduced a bill to mandate swift federal approval of genetically modified crops for commercial sale. Fincher has received more campaign money from agribusiness than any other industry.  LINK 

The Los Angeles Times’ Andrew Malcolm: “Obama: ‘America’s military is the best that it’s ever been’” Coincidence or not, President Obama and a Republican front-runner who would replace him, Mitt Romney, gave dueling speeches to American veterans today. Romney to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in San Antonio, Obama to the American Legion in Minneapolis. L INK

Bloomberg’s Mike Dorning: “Obama May Back Hiring Credit, Construction Spending to Spur Jobs” More than two years after the recession’s official end, the jobless rate held at 9.1 percent in July, just one percentage point below its 10.1 percent peak in October 2009. The ideas President Barack Obama is considering for his new jobs agenda could put hundreds of thousands of people back to work, and still have a limited impact in an economy that remains 6.8 million jobs behind its pre-recession peak, economists said. LINK 


The Washington Post’s David Nakamura and Philip Rucker: “Romney, Perry criticize Obama’s foreign policy as weak” In a series of speeches, President Obama and his chief political rivals have presented dueling assessments of the administration’s record abroad, with Republicans offering an ominous view of a weak and uncertain America under Obama’s leadership. L INK

Politico’s Ben Smith and Maggie Haberman: “Rick Perry panic fires up the left” In his two weeks as a presidential candidate, Rick Perry has done something that neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney could do: wake up the left. Perry panic has spread from the conference rooms of Washington, D.C., to the coffee shops of Brooklyn, with the realization that the conservative Texan could conceivably become the 45th president of the United States, a wave of alarm centering around Perry’s drawling, small-town affect and stands on core cultural issues such as women’s rights, gun control, the death penalty, and the separation of church and state. LINK 


The Washington Times’ Jim McEthalton: “National privacy oversight board remains dormant” An independent oversight board recommended by the 9/11 Commission to ensure that national security policies do not infringe on Americans’ civil liberties has remained dormant for years, raising concerns among watchdogs that a crucial Constitution safeguard does not exist. L INK


The New York Daily News’ Joseph Straw: “Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano grades New York City ‘very highly’ on Irene response” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano gave the Big Apple a big thumbs-up Tuesday for its historic response to Hurricane Irene. “I’d grade New York City very, very highly on the storm,” Napolitano said at a reporters’ breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor. L INK


ABC News’ Shannah Walshe: “Former Powell Chief of Staff: Cheney “Fears Being Tried as a War Criminal” Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s memoir, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,” is out Tuesday, and it’s full of criticism and attacks on his Bush administration colleagues– from describing Condoleezza Rice as “tearfully admitting” he was right on the war in Iraq to revealing private conversations with George W. Bush on the eve of the Iraq war. He reserves much of his ire for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and now Powell and his longtime aide and chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, are attempting to set the record straight. In no uncertain terms. L INK


The Wall Street Journal’s Nick Timiraos: “An Accidental Housing Chief Embraces the Power of ‘No’” Edward J. DeMarco has spent a career in the shadows of government, bouncing from one obscure post to another. Now, as the accidental head of the most powerful finance agency in housing, he controls the future of an industry weighing down the U.S. economy. Mr. DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, is the regulator who ended up as the conservator of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac when the U.S. L INK


“Washington Cribs: Inside Frank’s Closet at the Distilled Spirits Council” LINK 

“Obama Honors ’9-11 Generation’ at American Legion” L INK


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