The Note’s Must-Reads for Thursday, December 13, 2012

By Jayce Henderson

Dec 13, 2012 4:07am

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 and Carrie Halperin

PRESIDENT OBAMA:
The Washington Times’ Dave Boyer: “For Obama, trimmings all on holiday schedule” Since returning from a trip to Southeast Asia on Nov. 21, President Obama has managed ­­­­­to play three rounds of golf but has met face to face only once with House Speaker John A. Boehner, the man with whom he is trying to strike a deal on taxes and spending that could prevent another recession. With the deadline for averting the “fiscal cliff” less than three weeks away, the president’s schedule this week is exceptionally light. It does not include any time on the links with Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, who is also an avid golfer. LINK

FISCAL CLIFF:
ABC News’ John Pakinson: “Boehner, Obama Still ‘Far Apart’ on ‘Fiscal Cliff’” Despite a rapid succession of proposals and counteroffers between the White House and Capitol Hill in the past few days, House Speaker John Boehner today said the two sides are nowhere near a deal on the “fiscal cliff,” and continued to criticize what he called the president’s emphasis on tax revenue instead of tackling the country’s long-term deficit problems.
LINK

Politico’s David Rodgers: “Getting past grudges to fiscal cliff deas Between the hit movie and President Barack Obama’s second Inauguration, Lincoln is in the air in Washington. But maybe it’s time to also remember Grant, who knew war firsthand and had the good sense in victory to let the defeated take home their horses and mules for spring plowing. Obama won November’s election and as a practical matter is in full control of whether the top tax rates go up Jan. 1 — as already allowed under current law. LINK

The Hill’s Peter Schroeder, Amie Parnes and Russell Berman: “Cliff is already inflicting damage” Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke chastised Washington on Wednesday, saying the failure of President Obama and Congress to agree on a deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff” is already inflicting damage on the economy. In his last scheduled public remarks before tax hikes and spending cuts kick in automatically on Jan. 1, Bernanke linked the political standoff to falling consumer confidence and said a failure to reach a deal would wreak havoc on a faltering recovery. LINK

FOREIGN AFFAIRS:
ABC News’ Sarah Parnass and Luis Martinez: “State Department: Missile Launch Will ‘Further Isolate’ North Korea” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland today called North Korea’s deployment of an intercontinental ballistic missile “highly provocative” and said the country would face international consequences. The country’s foreign ministry asked that the launch not be “overblown” in the international sphere, but U.S. officials are not holding back in expressing their displeasure. North Korea violated two U.N. Security Council resolutions with its launch of a missile Tuesday night, Nuland said. LINK

The New York Times’ Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt: “Syria Uses Scud Missiles in New Effort to Push Back Rebels President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have resorted to firing ballistic missiles at rebel fighters inside Syria, Obama administration officials said Wednesday, escalating a nearly two-year-old civil war as the government struggles to slow the momentum of a gaining insurgency.  LINK

GOP:
The Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Mascaro and Michael Memoli: “House GOP holds fast on tax rates” House Republicans are fired up to prevent President Obama from raising tax rates for the wealthiest Americans, even if that means dashing their Christmas holiday plans and working through New Year’s Eve. That commitment was particularly apparent at a lunchtime gathering of conservatives Wednesday. LINK

Bloomberg’s  John McCormick: “Republicans Deemed Too Pro-Rich, 57% in Poll Want ChangeA majority of Americans say the Republican Party needs a major overhaul after electoral losses revealed demographic, messaging and technological shortfalls compared with Democrats, a Bloomberg National Poll shows. Even among Republicans, just 16 percent say their party is fine and doesn’t need to change. The survey also shows the party is viewed as too protective of the wealthy and that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has a slight edge among high-profile Republicans who may lead the party. LINK

U.S. TERRORISM AGENCY:
The Wall Street’s Journal’s Julia Angwin: “U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens” Top U.S. intelligence officials gathered in the White House Situation Room in March to debate a controversial proposal. Counterterrorism officials wanted to create a government dragnet, sweeping up millions of records about U.S. citizens—even people suspected of no crime. Not everyone was on board. “This is a sea change in the way that the government interacts with the general public,” Mary Ellen Callahan, chief privacy officer of the Department of Homeland Security, argued in the meeting, according to people familiar with the discussions. LINK

ECONOMY:
The Washington Post’s Zachary A. Goldfarb: “Fed ties stimulus to jobs, inflation in unprecedented steps to bolster economyThe Federal Reserve will take steps to bolster the economy until the unemployment rate falls to 6.5 percent or inflation looks likely to exceed 2.5 percent, the central bank said Wednesday in a historic move that for the first time specifies the Fed’s goals for the nation’s economy. The Fed also said it would buy $45 billion in Treasury bonds a month, on top of $40 billon a month it is already buying in mortgage bonds, in an effort to flood markets with money and reduce interest rates on a wide range of loans. Lower interest rates tend to stimulate borrowing, economic activity and employment. LINK

CONGRESS:
The Boston Globe’s 
Bobby Caina Calvan: “Elizabeth Warren gets picked for banking, aging, and health committeesThe Senate’s Democratic leadership announced committee assignments Wednesday, and as expected Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren will have a seat on the Banking Committee — befitting her previous role as a fierce watchdog on banks and Wall Street. Warren was also named to two other committees — one on aging, and the other on health, education, labor and pensions — that will provide her with additional platforms to work on issues affecting the country’s middle class. LINK

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