The Note's Must-Reads for Monday, January 27, 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, Will Cantine and Jordan Mazza

STATE OF THE UNION The Wall Street Journal's Carol E. Lee and Damian Paletta: " Obama to Assert Unilateral Agenda" President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night will seek to shift the public's souring view of his leadership, a challenge the White House sees as critical to shaping the nation's policy direction over the next three years. Mr. Obama will emphasize his intention to use unilateral presidential authority-bypassing Congress when necessary-to an extent not seen in his previous State of the Union speeches, White House officials said. LINK

Bloomberg's David Lerman and Gopal Ratnam: " Obama's Plan To Use Executive Action Triggers Criticism" Republican lawmakers said President Barack Obama risks antagonizing an already polarized Congress by threatening to use executive authority to make good on the policy agenda he will outline in his State of the Union address. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Obama is wrong to think he can bypass lawmakers if they don't make legislative progress this year. LINK

The New York Times' John Harwood: " For Obama, Investing In Brighter Futures Remains A Tough Sell" Whatever President Obama has accomplished, he has made little headway on the goal he values most: government action to lift long-term economic prospects for average Americans. Mr. Obama calls it "make or break," "the defining issue of our time" and his personal measure of success in the White House. But his State of the Union address on Tuesday, which is sure to highlight once again the challenges facing the middle class and the poor, could underscore his inability so far to convert talk into the taxpayer-financed investments that he and other Democrats believe can make the biggest difference. LINK

The Washington Post's Joe Davidson: " Feds Have High Hopes, Low Expectations For Obama's State Of The Union Address" When President Obama delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday night, many federal employees will be listening to what the boss-in-chief has to say about them. They shouldn't get their hopes up too high. Obama has given scant attention to federal employees in his previous State of the Union speeches. Don't expect this year to be different. One mention was in 2011, when he said: "We've frozen the salaries of hard-working federal employees for the next two years." LINK

Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown: " State Of The Union 2014: Obama To Take 'Optimistic' Message On The Road" President Barack Obama will deliver an "optimistic" State of the Union address Tuesday prodding Congress to address economic mobility and income inequality - or risk an end-run by the White House. In an email to supporters Saturday, senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer wrote that Obama "will lay out a set of real, concrete, practical proposals to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class, and empower all who hope to join it." Obama will then take his message on the road Wednesday for a two-day trip through Prince George's County in Maryland, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Nashville. When he returns to the White House, Obama will outline new efforts to help the long-term unemployed, Pfeiffer wrote. LINK

DEBT CEILING The Hill's Peter Schroeder, Russenn Berman and Erik Wasson: " GOP yet to decide what it wants in return for debt-ceiling hike" Republican leaders have yet to figure out what they want to get out of the debt limit fight, just weeks before risking a default. GOP lawmakers of all stripes have been adamant that Democrats will have to give something in exchange for a boost to the $16.7 trillion borrowing cap. But exactly what is still a big question. "The leadership has been deliberately quiet on this particular issue," said Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.). An exact plan is at least a week away and is likely to be debated at the GOP retreat starting Jan. 29. That will leave members with just a few weeks to get past well-dug battle lines. LINK

USA Today's Susan Page: " Republicans and White House head toward battle on debt" While the new year began without those familiar cliffhanger budget negotiations, White House officials and Republican congressional leaders staked out dramatically different positions Sunday on raising the debt ceiling as early as next month. That signals a potentially difficult standoff as the first order of business after President Obama delivers his State of the Union Address on Tuesday. LINK

CONGRESSIONAL RACES ABC News' Rick Klein: " Introducing ABC News' '14 For 14': The Races That Matter This Year" The 2014 midterm elections will mark the last electoral judgments that will shape the Obama era - a chance, perhaps, to untangle the complicated strands of a divided country. They will provide a valuable snapshot of a changing nation. They won't settle the age-old arguments of American politics - though they just might shake new life into a paralyzed system. LINK

CALIFORNIA DROUGHT The Los Angeles Times' Evan Halper: " Republicans seek to tap California drought for a political edge" Beleaguered and outnumbered, California Republicans think they may have found a crucial ally - drought. Up and down the state's increasingly dry Central Valley, Republicans have pounded away at the argument that Democratic policies - particularly environmental rules - are to blame for the parched fields and dwindling reservoirs that threaten to bankrupt farms and wipe out jobs. In his latest campaign video, Republican Doug Ose stands in the middle of dried-out Folsom Lake. At a mere 17% capacity, the usually scenic reservoir favored by boaters and sunbathers looks like the set of "Mad Max." As the camera pans, Ose declares, "We're facing a real crisis." LINK

AVONTE'S LAW The New York Daily News' Rich Schapiro: " Chuck Schumer to unveil Avonte's Law, to put tracking devices on autistic kids" U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer wants to outfit autistic kids with tracking devices. Schumer (D-N.Y.) is planning to unveil "Avonte's Law" on Sunday, a day after 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo was laid to rest. The autistic teen disappeared from his school Oct. 4. His remains were found Jan. 16. The senator wants to expand an existing voluntary program for people suffering with Alzheimer's to include autistic children. LINK

CHRISTINE O'DONNELL The Washington Times' Ben Wolfgang: " Congressional inquiry on Christine O'Donnell tax records heats up but truth may stay hidden" Powerful committees in both chambers of Congress now want answers to questions surrounding Christine O'Donnell's personal tax records and whether the Delaware Republican's private information was illegally accessed and ultimately used in an effort to derail her 2010 U.S. Senate bid. The House Ways and Means Committee has joined the Senate Finance Committee in probing a string of incidents dating back to March 2010, when Ms. O'Donnell - a tea party favorite who riled Delaware's GOP establishment by besting party mainstay Mike Castle in a primary contest before losing to Democrat Chris Coons in the general election - was told by Treasury Department investigators that her tax information had been breached. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS " 'This Week': Rep. Peter King" 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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