The Note’s Must-Reads for Thursday October 31, 2013

Oct 31, 2013 3:36am

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’ Carrie Halperin, Jayce Henderson, Will Cantine and Amanda VanAllen

HEALTH CARE
ABC News’ Mary Bruce and Ann Compton: “Obama Walks Back Promise That ‘If You Like Your Health Plan, You Can keep It’” Amid a firestorm of criticism, President Obama today walked back his oft-repeated, unambiguous promise that “if you like your health plan, you can keep it.” With hundreds of thousands receiving cancellation notices from their providers, Republicans have slammed the president in recent days for misleading the American public. Today, Obama tweaked his original pledge. LINK

USA Today’s Jessica Durando: “Politicians say Sorry, Sorry, Sorry” Public figures make mistakes, as we all do. But when these high-ranking officials screw up, they have to say sorry in a much grander fashion. And it usually becomes part of recorded history. The latest: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologized Wednesday for the botched health care website rollout. “I apologize. I’m accountable to you for fixing these problems,” she said. “Hold me accountable for the debacle. I’m responsible.” LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Colleen McCain nelson and Peter Nicholas: “Obama Tempers Insurance Pledge As Health Fight Rages” President Barack Obama on Wednesday said Americans who are losing insurance under the health law would find better coverage, rebutting a rising chorus of complaints that he had oversold the law’s benefits. With Republican criticism in Congress intensifying over canceled policies and the new online insurance marketplaces malfunctioning, Mr. Obama used a speech in Boston to tell Americans that they could obtain improved insurance if they shopped around. This comes after the president has long said that people who like their health plans would be able to keep them after the new law takes effect next year. LINK

The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser: “Health law will work, Obama insists” President Obama came to Boston on Wednesday to deliver his most impassioned defense of his health care program since the bungled marketplace launch earlier this month, returning to the intellectual birthplace of his landmark legislation to defend its integrity. Speaking before a boisterous crowd of health care executives, Massachusetts politicians, and families, he sought to frame the setbacks as temporary — as they were in Massachusetts — and part of the broad process of meaningful market reforms. LINK

Bloomberg’s Alex Wayne and Drew Armstrong: “Sebelius Says ‘Hold Me Accountable’ for Obamacare Flaws” U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius refused to give in to calls by lawmakers to fire the government administrators who worked on the Obamacare exchange rollout, saying “hold me accountable for the debacle.” In a contentious exchange, Republicans at a House committee hearing today quizzed Sebelius on the malfunctioning website that is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. They also raised privacy concerns, pressed her on insurance cancellations and demanded resignations, including of the federal official who oversaw the opening of the website. LINK

PRESIDENT OBAMA
Politico’s Reid Epstein: “Obama can’t quit Mitt” President Barack Obama just can’t leave Mitt Romney alone. The former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential nominee serves as a perpetual foil for the White House – and he’s one who can’t effectively fight back, has no base of support among Republicans and just happened to be the only other American politician to sign a universal health care law. LINK

N.S.A.
The New York Times’ Charlie Savage, Claire Cain Miller and Nicole Perlroth: “N.S.A. Said to Tap Google and Yahoo Abroad” The National Security Agency and its British counterpart have apparently tapped the fiber-optic cables connecting Google’s and Yahoo’s overseas servers and are copying vast amounts of email and other information, according to accounts of documents leaked by the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. LINK

TAXES
The Washington Post’s Lori Montgomery: “Beneath conference committee’s sweet words lurks old sticking point: Taxes” Lawmakers opened formal negotiations over the budget Wednesday by pledging to work across party lines to fund federal agencies, avoid another government shutdown and adopt lasting changes to rein in the rising national debt. But the sudden outbreak of bipartisan bonhomie masked a lingering dispute over the issue of taxes, which looms once again as the biggest roadblock on the path to compromise. LINK

IMMIGRATION REFORM
The Washington Times’ Stephen Dinan: “Top GOP leader rejects immigration conference with Senate” The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said Wednesday that the chamber’s Republicans will not go to a conference committee to work out a broad immigration bill with the Senate. In doing so, Rep. Michael T. McCaul, Texas Republican, flatly rejected the demand of President Obama and congressional Democrats who have said they will accept only a broad bill that legalizes illegal immigrants. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO
Sebelius Caught On Hot Mic: ‘Don’t Do This To Me’LINK
Secretary Sebelius faces A Keg Stand in CongressLINK
Secretary Sebelius: Americans ‘Deserve Better’LINK

BOOKMARKS
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ABC News Politics: LINK
George Stephanopoulos’ Blog: LINK
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