The Note's Must-Reads for Tuesday, February 25, 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' Will Cantine, Jayce Henderson and Jordan Mazza

MILITARY CUTS ABC News' Luis Martinez: " Pentagon Proposes Cutting The Army To Pre-WWII Level" Faced with tight budgets at the end of two lengthy wars the Pentagon is proposing cuts that could reduce the Army to its lowest level since just before the U.S. entered World War II. Budget proposals unveiled Monday by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel would also eliminate the A-10 aircraft and the venerable U-2 spy plane. Hagel announced the proposed cuts in a preview of the official Pentagon budget to be officially presented next week. He said the Army of tomorrow does not need "to conduct long and large stability operations." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Dion Nissenbaum and Julian Barnes: " Hagel's Military Budget Focuses On Changing Threats" Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proposed a defense budget designed to turn the military's attention away from the long ground war in Afghanistan and toward emerging cyberthreats from China and increasing challenges from al Qaeda-affiliated groups in Africa. The Pentagon road map, sure to face fierce resistance from lawmakers in both parties, calls for reducing the military's reliance on manpower-heavy troop buildups, investing instead in more agile special forces and cyberwarriors. LINK

The Hill's Kristina Wong: " Pentagon Budget Slashes Benefits" Benefits for active­ duty personnel and their families would be slashed under a budget proposal released Monday by the Pentagon. The budget would dramatically reduce the Army's size and trigger a new round of controversial base closures while cutting healthcare copays and deductibles and reducing the subsidies military families get for housing and low-cost goods. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel acknowledged the cuts would be controversial but argued they were unavoidable in a belt-tightening era following the end of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. "Congress has taken some important steps in recent years to control the growth in compensation spending, but we must do more," he said. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' David S. Cloud and W.J. Hennigan: " Proposed pentagon Budget Cuts Would Shrink Army, Retire Aircraft" The Army will shrink to its lowest troop levels since before World War II under a budget proposed Monday by the Obama administration that seeks to downsize the Pentagon from the wartime buildup of the last 13 years, and calls for retiring hundreds of aging aircraft and warships. The proposals reflect changing fortunes in the once-sacrosanct Pentagon budget. Congress has already ordered nearly $500 billion in defense spending cuts over the next decade, and automatic budget cuts - only partially rescinded - have caused a harsh reevaluation of military needs as the nation closes out the punishing ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. LINK

The Washington Times' Maggie Ybarra and Guy Taylor: " Defense Secretary Hagel Plans Pentagon Cuts That Would Take Army To Pre-WWII Levels" Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday that the Army must shrink to pre-World War II troop levels to preserve funding for elite counterterrorism operations and maintain the cybersecurity programs needed to counter threats by emerging rivals such as China. In the first major strategy proposal put forth by Mr. Hagel since he took over as the Obama administration's defense boss a year ago, the former Republican senator outlined a wide-ranging restructuring of the Pentagon budget over the coming five years. LINK

USA Today's Tom Vanden Brook and Ray Locker: " New Pentagon Budget Calls For Smaller Army, Pay Changes" Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday outlined in great detail for the first time the Pentagon's plan to save money while emphasizing special operations and technology for the future by calling for a smaller Army, changes in pay and the elimination of some venerable aircraft, weapons and bases. Hagel also said the cuts could get worse if Congress doesn't agree to the Obama administration's plan to add an extra $26 billion to the Pentagon budget to prevent some of the more dramatic cuts called for by the 2011 Budget Control Act, which is also known as sequestration. LINK

Bloomberg's Tony Capaccio and Gopal Ratnam: " Hagel's Budget Seeks Smallest Army Since Before 2001 Attack" Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today outlined a five-year Pentagon budget that would shrink Army forces to fewer than before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, while retiring older weapons including the U-2 spy plane and the A-10 attack aircraft. "Our recommendations favor a smaller and more capable force - putting a premium on rapidly deployable, self-sustaining platforms that can defeat more technologically advanced adversaries," Hagel said in remarks at the Pentagon as he proposed a budget for fiscal year 2015 of $496 billion, in line with congressionally approved limits. LINK

REP. JOHN DINGELL RETIRING ABC News' Erin Dooley: " John Dingell's Congress" A Lot Has Changed Since 1955" The year was 1955. Ray Kroc opened his first McDonalds restaurant, a Swiss engineer patented Velcro, the U.S. added the words, "In God We Trust" to paper currency, and Michigan's 15th district elected Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat, to Congress. He was just 29 years old. A lot has changed in the ensuing decades, but one thing hasn't: Dingell is still a member of the U.S. House, at least until November. Affectionately dubbed "the Dean," Dingell, 87, is officially Congress' longest-serving member. During his 58-year tenure on Capitol Hill, 11 presidents delivered 51 State of the Union addresses and 23 justices were named to the Supreme Court. LINK

The New York Times' Carl Hulse and Ashley Parker: " John Dingell To Retire After Nearly 60 Years In House" No member of the House has served as long as Representative John D. Dingell, Democrat of Michigan. So it resonated when Mr. Dingell announced on Monday that he would not seek re-election to a seat he has held since the Eisenhower administration in part because the institution he once revered had become "obnoxious," riven by acrimony and marked by lack of productivity. "There is going to be a lot of blaming and finger-pointing back and forth, but all of us are at fault," Mr. Dingell said in remarks to a chamber of commerce in Michigan, adding: "The enormous expense of money made by people in the course of the campaign has not been well spent in the interest of the public, of the Congress of the country." LINK

The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty and Paul Kane: " In John Dingell's Departure, A Changing Of The Guard And The End Of An Old Style of Power" In the arc of Rep. John D. Dingell's storied legislative career, it is easy to discern the fading trajectory of power in Washington over the past six decades. He was the last of the true committee barons, one who muscled for legislative turf and who had been known to pound his gavel so hard it shattered. But this is a city where no one seems to have the clout to make things happen anymore, and where even the most junior members of Congress have the ability to stop those who try. LINK

Politico's John Bresnahan And Alex Isenstadt: " John Dingell, Longest-Serving Congressman, To Retire" Rep. John Dingell (Mich.), the longest serving lawmaker in congressional history and an icon in Democratic politics, will retire at the end of the 113th Congress. Rumors had been swirling around Dingell's future in recent weeks, and it was clear over the weekend that an announcement was coming soon. "I'm not going to be carried out feet first," the 87-year-old Dingell told the Detroit News in a report published Monday. "I don't want people to say I stayed too long." Dingell, whose father also served in Congress, was first elected to the House in 1955 at the age of 29. LINK

USA Today's Susan Davis: " Dingell Retirement Marks Generational Shift In House" The storied career of the longest-serving lawmaker in the nation's history, Rep. John Dingell, is drawing to a close as he announced Monday that his current term will be his last. The Michigan Democrat's exit, after 59 years of service in the U.S. House, is part of an exodus caused by retirements, electoral defeats or deaths of veteran lawmakers that is fueling a rapid generational shift in Congress. Dingell, 87, made clear in his retirement announcement that he doesn't like what he sees in the current crop of lawmakers. "This Congress has been a great disappointment to everyone, members, media, citizens and our country," he said, adding that he was hopeful his last session would find a more productive and cooperative conclusion. LINK

The New York Daily News' Leslie Larson: " Rep. John Dingell To Retire From Congress After 59 Years: 'I'm Not Going To Be Carried Out Feet First" Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, the longest-serving congressman in U.S. history, will retire from the House of Representatives after 59 years. The 87-year-old, dubbed "Big John" for his towering height, will step down after this year at the end of his 29th full term. There is speculation that Dingell's wife, Debbie Dingell, may run to replace him. "I'm not going to be carried out feet first," Dingell told the Detroit News. "I don't want people to say I stayed too long." The congressman is reportedly still in good health but says he isn't sure he can serve out another two-year term. LINK

FOREIGN AFFAIRS The New York Times' David Sanger: " Syria War Stirs New U.S. Debate On Cyberattacks" Not long after the uprising in Syria turned bloody, late in the spring of 2011, the Pentagon and the National Security Agency developed a battle plan that featured a sophisticated cyberattack on the Syrian military and President Bashar al-Assad's command structure. The Syrian military's ability to launch airstrikes was a particular target, along with missile production facilities. "It would essentially turn the lights out for Assad," said one former official familiar with the planning. LINK

GOP TAX PLAN The Washington Post's Lori Montgomery: " House GOP Tax Plan Would Cut Top Rates But Also Hit High Earners With A Surtax" The long-awaited simplification of the tax code being drafted by House Republicans would slash the top income tax rate to 25 percent from 39.6 percent and impose a surtax on some of the nation's wealthiest households. Under the proposal, set for release Wednesday, the vast majority of taxpayers would see little change in the ultimate size of their tax bills, according to a nonpartisan congressional analysis of the legislation. LINK

UNITED STATES DEBT RISK Bloomberg's Wes Goodman: " U.S. Debt Risk Almost Cut In Half As Economy Outperforms Germany" U.S. bond risk has fallen to about half of what it was four months ago, trading near Germany's level as the U.S. economy outperforms the European nation. The cost to protect U.S. debt against non-payment was 26.5 basis points, falling from 46 basis points in October. Germany's was 25 basis points. The U.S. government this month suspended its debt limit until March 2015, avoiding another stalemate in Congress after earlier disputes over borrowing raised the threat of default. The Treasury plans to sell $109 billion of notes this week, starting with a two-year auction today. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO " Defense Secretary Announces Steep Cuts To US Military" LINK " President Obama Speaks To The National Governors Association" LINK " Jindal vs. Malloy: The Kumbaya Moment Of Governors That Turned Into A Partisan Fight" LINK " Oldest-Known holocaust Survivor Dead At 110" LINK

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