The Note’s Must-Reads for Wednesday, January 25, 2012

By Amanda VanAllen

Jan 25, 2012 3:34am

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’  Jayce Henderson, Jacqueline Fernandez Amanda VanAllen and Carrie Halperin.

MITT ROMNEY
ABC News’ Elizabeth Hartfield: “Boehner Uses Romney’s Tax Returns to Attack Obama” House Speaker John Boehner offered a show of support for Mitt Romney after the former Massachusetts governor released two years of tax returns today, and used the opportunity to attack President Obama. In response to requests from his rivals and his supporters, Romney released his returns for 2010 and his estimates for 2011 this morning. LINK

USA Today’s Kevin McCoy: “Romney tax returns show he’s no average multimillionaire” GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney isn’t just in the top 1% of America’s highest earners — he’s in at least the top 0.006%, tax returns he released Tuesday show.  Just 8,274 federal tax returns out of more than 140 million filed in 2009 had income that totaled $10 million or more, the most recent data available from the IRS show. LINK

The New York Times’ Mark Landler: “Critiques for Capitalists in Obama’s Speech, With One in particular in His Sights” President Obama did not mention Mitt Romney on Tuesday evening, but he didn’t need to. Mr. Romney, whom the president’s aides still view as his most likely opponent in the fall, was the unspoken adversary in Mr. Obama’s call for a more equitable society — the natural foil for his proposals to level the playing field for middle-class Americans, from taxes to trade policy. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s John D. McKinnon, Laura Saunders and Mark Maremont: “Romney Rethinks Key Income-Tax Break” If elected president, Mitt Romney might consider ending a tax break that helped the former Massachusetts governor accumulate his fortune, an aide suggested Tuesday. The comments came as the Romney campaign made available more than 500 pages of tax-return data for 2010 and 2011 amid signs the issue was hurting him with some voters. LINK

The Washington Times’ Dave Boyer and Susan Crabtree: “Romney: Make Obama’s State of the Union his last”  Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney urged voters here to make President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday his last and blamed the Democrat for pushing policies that have raised the nation’s unemployment rate, worsened the housing crises and pushed the nation deeper into a sea of red ink.  Standing under an “Obama Isn’t Working” banner, the former Massachusetts governor said that Mr. Obama, during his first three years in office, has “amassed an actual record of debt, decline and disappointment” and pushed the nation toward a “European-style welfare state.” LINK

 OBAMA
The Hill’s Amie Parnes: “Obama cranks up populist pitch” President Obama used his election-year State of the Union address to issue a loud call for economic equality based on “responsibility from everybody,” a theme prefacing his 2012 campaign message. Cranking up the volume on the populist message that the wealthy should pay higher taxes, Obama said the goal of economic equality was a return to American values and “the defining issue of our time.”  LINK

The Los Angeles Times’ Kathleen Hennessey: “Republicans blast Obama for ‘efforts to divide us’” President Obama’s call for economic fairness in his State of the Union speech met with caustic responses from his Republican rivals, who accused him of spurring divisions.”No feature of the Obama presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others,” Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said in the official GOP response to the speech. “We do not accept that ours will ever be a nation of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’; we must always be a nation of ‘haves’ and ‘soon to haves.’ ” LINK

The Los Angeles Times’ David Later: “Focus group suggests State of the Union speech as Well-Received” As President Obama delivered his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, a group of 50 swing voters armed with dial meters recorded strongly favorable reactions to his proposals on taxes, renewable energy, overcoming partisan divisions and defending the middle class, according to the pollsters who supervised the study. The group, made up of Democrats, Republicans and independents, including both McCain and Obama voters from 2008, gave the president significantly higher marks after the speech than before on whether he will stand up for the middle class, whether he can be trusted on energy policy and on measures of empathy, such as whether he shares voters’ values and “makes me hopeful,” said Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg.” LINK

Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown: “Obama’s State of the Union address, translated” President Barack Obama didn’t turn his State of the Union speech into an overt pitch for his reelection, but he did push back against his Republican rivals in his address. West Wing officials chided reporters earlier Tuesday for assuming that he would use the primetime perch to deliver a campaign stemwinder, saying he planned a substantive address that would not deviate in tone from other speeches to Congress. LINK

Bloomberg’s Catherine Dodge and Kate Andersen Brower: “Obama Calls for Higher Taxes on Wealthy” President Barack Obama, offering an election-year prescription to spur the economy, said the wealthiest Americans should pay more taxes in the name of fairness, to bring down the deficit and ensure those trying to make ends meet don’t have to “make up the difference.” LINK

SUPER PAC:
The Washington Post’s Amy Gardner: “Pro-Gingrich super PAC builds a shadow campaign” They’re hiring field directors, setting up phone banks, building get-out-the-vote teams and crafting a message strategy worthy of a presidential candidate. But they aren’t staffers for a national campaign; they are the people behind an increasingly potent super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS:
Obama: Divide Exists Between Washington, CitizensLINK
Obama: U.S. Remains Indispensible in World AffairsLINK

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