The Note's Must-Reads for Friday, January 03, 2014

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, Will Cantine and Jordan Mazza

PRESIDENT OBAMA AND CONGRESS The New York Times' John Harwood: " When a 2nd-Term President and a Divided Congress Made Magic" The modesty of last month's federal budget deal, and the difficulty of achieving even that, make Washington's more ambitious 2014 goals appear out of reach. Could a divided government possibly overhaul the tax code and immigration system in a single year, not to mention with a lame-duck president facing midterm elections? LINK

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY Bloomberg's Calev Ben-David and Terry Atlas: " Kerry Starts Talks to Reach Israeli-Palestinian Peace Blueprint" U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders today to make the tough choices necessary to bring months of negotiations to a shared vision of peace. "I think it's safe to say that we know what the issues are," Kerry said before entering a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. LINK

HEALTH CARE ABC News' Abby D. Phillip: " Ohio Tea Party Activist To Challenge Kasich Over Obamacare" Tea party Republicans in the Buckeye state are bound and determined to make Republican Gov. John Kasich pay for supporting the expansion of Medicaid as part of President Obama's healthcare law. Next week, former president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition Ted Stevenot will announce that he plans to challenge Kasich in the Republican primary. And should he collect the 1,000 signatures necessary to get on the ballot, it would make Kasich the first sitting Ohio governor to be challenged in a primary since 1978, according to the Columbus Dispatch. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Anna Wilde Mathews, Timothy W. Martin and Christopher Weaver: " Consumers Hit Snags As Health Law Kicks In" Consumers began test-driving insurance coverage under the federal health-care law Thursday, seeking care at pharmacies and clinics, and in some cases running into hiccups as their policies took effect. Doctors' offices, hospitals and pharmacies said they saw a limited number of people with the new insurance, which kicked in at the beginning of the year. Long Beach Memorial Medical Center has had a "steady stream" of patients with plans purchased through the new California online marketplace, including a few emergency-room visits and a number of appointments with primary-care doctors, said Diana Hendel, chief executive of the hospital in Long Beach, Calif. LINK

TAX BREAKS The Washington Post's Brad Plumer: " From NASCAR to wind power: Congress just let 55 tax breaks expire" This is becoming an annual tradition of sorts. Every year, there are a raft of "temporary" tax breaks, credits, and deductions that expire on Dec. 31. LINK

LOBBYISTS Politico's Byron Tau and Anna Palmer: " Lobbyists cash in on do-nothing Congress" Congress didn't get much of anything done last year, but you wouldn't know it looking down K Street. Washington Inc. experienced only a minor squeeze, continuing to hum along even as Congress failed to pass the kind of bills that lobbyists are paid top dollar by corporate clients and other special interests to influence - like an overhaul of the Tax Code, immigration reform or a major deficit package. LINK

ABORTION The Washington Times' Cheryl Wetzstein: " States pass 70 abortion-restricting measures in 2013" State lawmakers passed 70 provisions restricting abortions in 2013, the second-highest tally on record, the Guttmacher Institute said Thursday. Many restrictions involved banning abortions at a certain time in pregnancy, such as 20 weeks postfertilization; setting new regulations for abortion providers, facilities or the handling of drug-induced abortions; and limiting abortion coverage in health insurance. LINK

ENVIRONMENT The Hill's Laura Barron-Lopez: " Climate to be 2014 battlefield" Climate change and energy will be a major policy battleground in the 2014 midterms, advocates on both sides of the issue promise. Republicans like Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) plan to go on the attack against President Obama's climate action plan, which they have dubbed a "war on coal." They're backed by conservative groups like the American Energy Alliance, which is already airing campaign ads attacking Democrats such as Rep. Nick Rahall (W.Va.) for supporting a carbon tax. Green activists led by Tom Steyer plan to return fire. LINK

NYC MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO The Los Angeles Times' Tina Susman and Alana Semuels: " Snowstorm brings early test for New York's new mayor" On his first full day in office Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio faced a headache that has bedeviled many a mayor before him virtually every year: a major snowstorm. At a news briefing shortly after swearing in his new police commissioner, former LAPD Chief William J. Bratton, De Blasio had some good news for New York. Forecasters were predicting just a few inches of snow overnight, less than first anticipated. LINK

The New York Daily News' Erin Durkin: " Busy First Day On The Job For New Mayor Bill de Blasio" It was Bill de Blasio's first full day of work as mayor, but there was no time for measuring the drapes as a powerful winter storm barrelled towards the city. Our Jennifer Fermino and I report: The new mayor, a noted night owl, was up before dawn - taking a stroll in his Park Slope neighborhood in his favorite Brooklyn sweatshirt - and reported for duty at City Hall before 9 a.m. "It's a powerful moment. I went to sleep knowing exactly what was head of us," de Blasio said. LINK

BOOKMARKS The Note: LINK ABC News Politics: LINK George Stephanopoulos' Blog: LINK ABC News on Twitter: @ThisWeekABC | @ABCPolitics ABC News Mobile: LINK ABC News Apps: LINK ABC News YouTube: LINK

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