The Note's Must-Reads for Wednesday, March 13, 2013

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' Amanda VanAllen, Will Cantine and Jordan Mazza

BUDGET DEBATE ABC News' George Stephanopoulos: " President Obama Won't Balance Budget 'Just For The Sake Of Balance'" in an exclusive interview with ABC News, President Obama rejected calls to balance the federal budget in the next ten years and instead argued that his primary economic concern was not balancing the budget, but rather growing the economy. LINK

USA Today's Susan Davis and David Jackson: " Only Battleground, Not Common Ground, In Budget Wars" Most Americans say they want President Obama and a divided Congress to compromise on major issues, but competing budget proposals out this week from House Republicans and Senate Democrats underscore why it's so hard to find. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., unveiled a fiscal blueprint Tuesday that includes proposals with almost no Democratic support, including the elimination of President Obama's health care law, fundamental changes to Medicare for future retirees and $4.6 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade affecting programs such as food stamps and college grants while protecting defense spending from the budget ax. LINK

The Hills' Erik Wasson: " On Capitol Hill, budget vs. budget" House Republicans and Senate Democrats unveiled clashing budgets Tuesday that highlight the ideological chasm between the two parties on taxes, spending and the size of government. The plan from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, would slice spending by $5.7 trillion, cut the top tax rate to 25 percent and balance the budget in 10 years. LINK

The Washington Times' Susan Crabtree: " Obama opens door to entitlement changes in grand bargain talks" President Obama opened the door to making significant changes to entitlement programs during a meeting Tuesday with Senate Democrats, though some among the lawmakers quickly warned that they would not go along with benefit cuts or a higher retirement age. As part of an extended outreach effort to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, Mr. Obama huddled with his party colleagues for nearly 90 minutes, telling them he would send them a budget the week of April 8 that largely would reflect Democratic priorities and values. LINK

The New York Times' Jeremy W. Peters and Jonathan Weisman: "2 Parties' Budgets Show Big Rift as G.O.P. Renews 2012 Proposals" Senate Democrats and House Republicans on Tuesday outlined vastly divergent approaches to shoring up the government's finances, a reminder of how far apart they remain on fiscal policy even as both sides insist publicly that a bipartisan compromise is possible. LINK

The Washington Post's Lori Montgomery: "Ryan sets stage for a budget duel, targets health-care law" Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are drafting radically different budget blueprints that offer little room for compromise, even as President Obama presses lawmakers to take another shot at a far-reaching agreement to tame the national debt. LINK

Bloomberg's James Rowley and Roxana Tiron: "Grand Bargain Taxes, Entitlements Cuts Await Deal-Makers" Some of the elements of a budgetary "grand bargain" will be on the table today. Merging them is the biggest political challenge in the U.S. Capitol. LINK

GUN CONTROL The Los Angeles Times' Melanie Mason: " Bill to expand background checks on gun sales advances" A bill to expand background check requirements for gun sales cleared its first Senate hurdle Tuesday, with Democrats hoping that it would be the vehicle for a compromise measure that could pass the full chamber. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the proposal by Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) by a 10-8 vote, with support solely from Democrats. LINK

PRESIDENT OBAMA Politico's Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen: "Missed Chance: Obama's Tax Problem" President Obama faces huge, and probably insurmountable, obstacles to reviving a grand bargain - none higher and more difficult to overcome than his decision to increase taxes by $600 billion in December. LINK

MITT ROMNEY| The Boston Globe's Matt Viser: " For Mitt Romney, Another Public Step In Return" Organizers of an annual conservative Republican gathering this week on the edge of the Potomac River have photographs of Marco Rubio, Sarah Palin, Paul Ryan, and Rand Paul emblazoned across their website with the headline "America's Future: The Next Generation of Conservatives." Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and last year's GOP presidential nominee, meanwhile, is just another face in the crowd, listed alphabetically a few screens down among several dozen other speakers. He comes just before Wayne Allyn Root, the 2008 libertarian nominee for vice president. LINK

CYBERTERRORISM The Wall Street Journal's Siobhan Gorman and Siobhan Hughes: " U.S. Official Cites Cyberattack Risks" the nation's top spies warned Tuesday of the rising threat of cyberattacks to national and economic security, comparing the concern more directly than before to the dangers posed by global terrorism. U.S. intelligence officials told a Senate hearing that the nation is vulnerable to cyberespionage, cybercrime and outright destruction of computer networks, both from sophisticated, government-sponsored assault as well as criminal hacker groups and cyberterrorists. LINK

OTHER The New York Daily News' Kristen A. Lee: " Mississippi passes 'anti-Bloomberg bill,' banning local limits on portion sizes and requirements to post calorie counts" Lawmakers in Mississippi - the most obese state in the nation - have overwhelmingly approved what they're calling the "anti-Bloomberg bill." It would ban communities from requiring restaurants to post calorie counts on menus or limit portion sizes, as Mayor Bloomberg tried to do with his proposed ban on large sodas. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS " The Democratic Budget: Unbalanced Balance?" LINK " Budget Negotiations: Obama Reaches Out To Both Parties" LINK

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