The Note’s Must-Reads for Tuesday, December 17, 2013

By Jayce Henderson

Dec 17, 2013 3:39am

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, Amanda VanAllen, Will Cantine and Jordan Mazza

PRESIDENT OBAMA
The Washington Post’s Dan Balz and Scott Clement: “Obama suffers most from year of turmoil, poll finds” President Obama is ending his fifth year in office matching the worst public approval ratings of his presidency, with record numbers of Americans saying they disapprove of his job performance and his once-hefty advantages over Republicans in Congress eroded in many areas, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.  His position is all the more striking when compared with his standing a year ago, as he was preparing for his second inauguration after a solid reelection victory. LINK

HEALTH CARE
ABC News’ Gary Langer: “A Drop In Opposition To Obamacare Helps Stabilize A Struggling Presidency” Public opposition to the new health care law has eased in the past month, enough to help level off Barack Obama’s falling popularity – but not to turn it around. Fifty-five percent of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll disapprove of the president’s job performance overall, unchanged from last month’s reading as the worst of his career. Forty-three percent approve, a scant percentage point from 42 percent in November. LINK

USA Today’s Aamer Madhani: “Obama To Meet With Tech Execs To Talk NSA, Health Care” President Obama is set to meet with several tech executives on Tuesday to discuss the administration’s efforts to address problems with the federal online health care exchange as well as the fallout that national security leaks have had on their companies, according to the White House. Among those expected to take part in the White House meeting are Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Louise Randofsky and Christopher Weaver: “Insurers Fight Hospitals’ Paying Premiums” A charity’s plan to help people pay for coverage through new health-care exchanges has put it at the center of a high-stakes fight between the insurance and hospital industries that could pose a challenge to the economic underpinnings of President Barack Obama’s health law. A Better LA, a decade-old Los Angeles nonprofit, said last week it was signing up 50 low-income people for health plans in California’s health-insurance marketplace. The charity, which said it has the blessing of the state agency overseeing the marketplace, will pay $50 to $100 a month to cover the share of the people’s premiums not already financed by federal subsidies. LINK

The Hill’s Jonathan Easley: “Issa-Obama feud heats up” The long-simmering feud between the Obama administration and Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Ca.) boiled over Monday amid charges and counter-charges that each side was failing to safeguard sensitive ObamaCare information. Issa conducted a field hearing in Dallas to promote a new report criticizing the ObamaCare “navigators,” saying they had failed to adequately protect Social Security numbers and other private consumer data. The White House and Democrats responded with an aggressive counter-attack accusing Issa of recklessly handling sensitive material. The White House general counsel went around Issa in a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), asking he intervene to prevent further leaks. LINK

The Washington Times’ Tom Howell Jr, Jennifer Agiesta and Richardo Alonso-Zaldivar: “Even the Employer-Insured People are Rocked by Obamacare Changes” Sharon Wilson, an office manager in Iowa, figured she would lock in a good deal on health care coverage for her five-person biofuels company by renewing its policy before Obamacare kicked in for 2014. But she balked when her agent came back with a 81 percent rate hike, anyway. LINK

BUDGET
The Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Mascaro: “Budget deal appears to have enough GOP support to clear climate” The Senate appeared set to approve a budget deal this week after a handful of Republicans announced they would vote to advance the bill, which has deeply divided the party. Their backing, along with that of most Democrats, would be enough to break a tea-party-backed filibuster during a crucial vote Tuesday and boost the package across the 60-vote threshold needed for consideration. Final passage could come as soon as Wednesday. LINK

HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY CONFIRMATION
ABC News’ Arlette Saenz: “Senate Confirms Jeh Johnson As DHS Secretary” The Senate confirmed Jeh Johnson today to be the next Secretary of Homeland Security, the first African American to hold the position. The Senate voted 78 to 16 to confirm Johnson, a former Pentagon lawyer, to the top post at the Department of Homeland Security. Johnson served as general counsel to the Defense Department during most of President Obama’s first term.  He previously served as a general counsel to the U.S. Air Force during President Bill Clinton’s administration and spent nearly a decade as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Kristina Peterson: “Jeh Johnson Confirmed As Homeland Security Chief” The Senate on Monday confirmed Jeh Johnson, President Barack Obama’s pick to lead the Homeland Security Department. Mr. Johnson, approved in a 78-16 vote, will lead an agency of about 240,000 employees that was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to bring together government efforts to police the borders, handle customs and immigration, and respond to accidents and natural disasters. Mr. Johnson succeeds Janet Napolitano, now serving as president of the University of California. LINK

NSA RULING
The New York Times’ Charlie Savage: “Judge Questions Legality of N.S.A. Phone Records A federal district judge ruled on Monday that the National Security Agency program that is systematically keeping records of all Americans’ phone calls most likely violates the Constitution, describing its technology as “almost Orwellian” and suggesting that James Madison would be “aghast” to learn that the government was encroaching on liberty in such a way.  The judge, Richard J. Leon of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, ordered the government to stop collecting data on the personal calls of the two plaintiffs in the case and to destroy the records of their calling history.  LINK

Politico’s Josh Gerstein: “NSA Ruling Fallout Hits White House” In legal terms, a federal judge’s decision Monday questioning the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s massive call-tracking program seems almost certain to have no practical significance.  In political terms, it comes at a critical time for the NSA and President Barack Obama.  LINK

EPA RULES
Bloomberg’s Mark Drajem: “Fifteen States Press Obama for Tough, Flexible EPA Rules” Fifteen states that have taken steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are seeking assurances that their efforts will be recognized when the U.S. Environmental Protection agency issues new rules governing pollution from power plants. In a petition delivered to the EPA today, officials from states including California, New York and Colorado say they want to make sure the agency recognizes their efforts as it crafts the federal rules, set to be released in June. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO
Federal Reserve Celebrates CentennialLINK

BOOKMARKS
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