The Note's Must-Reads for Wednesday, December 12, 2012

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' Jayce Henderson, Amanda VanAllen, and Carrie Halperin

FISCAL CLIFF: ABC News' Sunlen Miller: " Female Senators Say They'd Already Have 'Fiscal Cliff' Solved" With 20 days to go until the nation goes over the so-called fiscal cliff, some female senators say if they were in charge, Congress would already have a deal. "I think if we were in charge of the Senate and of the administration that we would have a budget deal by now," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told ABC's World News anchor Diane Sawyer today. LINK

USA Today's Susan Davis: " Some Democrats fear possible entitlement cuts" Democrats are united behind President Obama's proposal to raise tax rates on the wealthiest of Americans, but some Democrats worry the president could be willing to make further concessions on entitlement programs to avert the "fiscal cliff" than many Democrats can support. Any final deal has to include Democratic concessions on entitlement programs, including Medicare and Social Security, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday on the House floor. "Where are the president's spending cuts? LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Damian Paletta, Janet Hook and Carol E. Lee: " Corporate Taxes on Table in Cliff Talks" The White House has told Republicans it would include an overhaul of the corporate-tax code as part of any deal to reduce the deficit, people familiar with the talks said, a move to court business groups as budget negotiations intensify. Corporate taxes hadn't until now been part of budget talks aimed at averting spending cuts and tax increases set for January. LINK

The Hill's Alexander Bolton: " Both sides edging toward deal in deficit-reduction negotiations" Congressional Republicans and the White House on Tuesday appeared to edge closer to a deficit-reduction deal that would raise new taxes on the wealthy but also reform entitlement programs. The two sides exchanged offers following a face-to-face meeting Sunday between President Obama and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who are negotiating a deal to prevent tax hikes and spending cuts that could trigger a recession early next year. LINK

Bloomberg's Mike Dorning: " Obama Wins Almost 50% Republicans on Tax Mandate in Poll" President Barack Obama won the public argument over taxes so decisively that almost half of Republicans now say he has an election mandate to raise rates on the rich.Majorities of about 2-to-1 also read the election results as an endorsement of Obama's pledge to protect Social Security and Medicare benefits, according to a Bloomberg National Poll of 1,000 adults conducted Dec. 7-10. LINK

Politico's Manu Raju and Steven Sloan: " GOP tries to quell dissenters on taxes" The growing number of GOP defectors on taxes is causing heartburn in Republican ranks and prompting fresh fears that the party is giving President Barack Obama crucial leverage in the fiscal cliff negotiations."I think it's not helpful on anything to negotiate in public," said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), echoing the concerns of many in the party eager to tamp down internal dissension ahead of a high-stakes year-end deadline." LINK

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: The Washington Post's Chico Harlan: " North Korea fires long-range rocket in defiant move" North Korea on Wednesday successfully fired into orbit a long-range rocket carrying a satellite, an outside aerospace monitoring organization said, a major advance in the authoritarian nation's weapons program. According to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a joint organization of the United States and Canada, North Korea "deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit" after the first and second stages of the rocket dropped into the sea. LINK

The Washington Times' Guy Taylor: " Defense had live video of attack in Benghazi" Live video from a drone flying over the U.S. Consulate during the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, was monitored at a Defense Department facility, but was not fed to the White House, senior officials say. The Obama administration has declined to respond to media requests for details about who was watching the live video, but a senior defense official told The Washington Times that "the surveillance aircraft captured footage of events on the ground" and "it wasn't available that night at the White House." LINK

The New York Times' Mark Landler, Michael R. Gordon and Anne Barnard: " U.S. Will Grant Recognition to Syrian Rebels, Obama Says" President Obama said Tuesday that the United States would formally recognize a coalition of Syrian opposition groups as that country's legitimate representative, in an attempt to intensify the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to give up his nearly two-year bloody struggle to stay in power. LINK

OTHER: The New York Daily News' Kristen Lee: " Former S.C. First Lady on short list to replace Jim DeMint, but no Mark Sanford or Stephen Colbert" Jenny Sanford, the former first lady of South Carolina, is on a short list to replace Jim DeMint in the U.S. Senate, reports say, but her ex-husband didn't make the cut - and neither did Stephen Colbert. A Republican close to the governor told CNN that Nikki Haley's top five choices for the seat are Sanford, Rep. Tim Scott, Rep. Trey Gowdy, former state Attorney General Henry McMaster and Catherine Templeton, who heads the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO: " Speaker Boehner: Where Are the President's Spending Cuts?" LINK

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