The Note's Must-Reads for Wednesday, February 5, 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 Janine Elliot

NATIONAL SECURITY ABC News' Luis Martinez: " National Guard Recruiting Fraud May Be As High as $50M" Fraudulent payments associated with a National Guard program that boosted lagging recruitment numbers at the height of the war in Iraq may top $50 million, Army officials said today. Investigators have so far determined that $29 million in fraudulent payments were made as part of the National Guard's Recruiting Assistance Program, or G-RAP. Senior Army officials told a congressional panel looking into fraudulent claims paid out by the program that it could take Army investigators another two years to determine the full extent of the fraud. LINK

USA Today's Donna Leinwand: "Obama Administration Seeks Tougher Cyber-Security Law" The Obama administration recommends a uniform federal standard requiring businesses to quickly report thefts of electronic personal information, acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday. The hearing explored ways to combat cyber-crime after massive data breaches at major retailers, including Target, which announced it is spending $100 million to expedite transition to "smart" cards with computer chips from the standard magnetic strip credit and debit cards. LINK

HEALTH CARE The New York Times' Annie Lowrey and Jonathan Weisman: " Health Care Law Projected To Cut The Labor Force" A Congressional Budget Office analysis released Tuesday predicted that the Affordable Care Act would shrink the work force by the equivalent of more than two million full-time positions and recharged the political debate over the health care law, providing Republican opponents fresh lines of attack and putting Democrats on the defensive. The nonpartisan budget office's analysis, part of a regular update to its budget projections, was far more complicated than the Republican attack lines it generated. LINK

Wall Street Journal's Louise Radnofsky and Damian Paletta: " Health Law To Cut Into Labor Force" The new health law is projected to reduce the total number of hours Americans work by the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time jobs in 2021, a bigger impact on the workforce than previously expected, according to a nonpartisan congressional report. The analysis, by the Congressional Budget Office, says a key factor is people scaling back how much they work and instead getting health coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The agency had earlier forecast the labor-force impact would be the equivalent of 800,000 workers in 2021. LINK

The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan: " Obamacare Will Push 2 Million Workers Out Of Labor Market: CBO" Obamacare will push the equivalent of about 2 million workers out of the labor market by 2017 as employees decide either to work fewer hours or drop out of the job market altogether, according to estimates released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office. The analysis set off a furious debate in Washington. The White House argued that the reduction is positive because it means Americans will forgo jobs or extra work to stay home with their children or strike out on their own as entrepreneurs. Republicans, however, said the report amounted to an "I told you so" moment and that subtracting the equivalent of 2 million workers can't be good for the economy. LINK

The Hill's Russell Berman and Bernie Becker: " GOP Counts Votes On Tying Debt Hike To Healthcare Law" House Republican leaders are canvassing their members to see whether they have enough votes to pass an increase in the debt ceiling that is tied to a repeal of the "risk corridors" provision in ObamaCare. The party on Tuesday held its second private session in the last week devoted to finding a plan to raise the debt limit by the late-February deadline set by the Treasury Department. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his lieutenants want a proposal that can pass without relying on Democratic votes, and aides said Tuesday afternoon that a surgical strike on the healthcare law appeared to be winning out over a competing idea to call for the approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. LINK

FARM BILL Bloomberg's Alan Bjerga: " Congress Passes Farm Bill To End Fight Over Food Stamps" The Senate passed and sent President Barack Obama a measure that sets U.S. agricultural policy for five years, ending the toughest legislative battle on renewal of the farm bill in almost two decades with cuts to crop subsidies and food stamps. The Democratic-led Senate voted 68-32 today for the bill, joining the Republican-controlled House that cleared the legislation last week. The measure, which Obama said he will sign, ends a $5 billion annual crop-subsidy program and relies on insurance as the main form of farm aid. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Lisa Mascaro and Michael A. Memoli: " Congress Send 5-Year, $1-Trillion Farm Bill To President Obama" In a rare display of bipartisanship, Congress gave final approval Tuesday to a nearly $1-trillion farm bill, a hard-fought compromise that sets policy over agricultural subsidies, nutrition programs and the food stamp safety net for the next five years. The Senate approved the measure, 68-32, as a cross-section of farm state senators from both parties fought opposition from budget hawks and some liberals and sent the bill to the White House for President Obama's signature. It easily passed the House last week. LINK

USA Today's Christopher Doering: " Farm Bill Headed To Obama After Senate Passage" After years of delays and contentious negotiations that threatened to derail the farm bill, Congress completed its work on a new five-year package Tuesday that now heads to the president. The Senate voted 68-32 on a $500 billion farm bill that will end direct payments to farmers, expand the popular crop insurance program and cut spending on food stamps for some poor Americans by 1%. The White House announced Tuesday afternoon that Obama is going to sign the farm bill on Friday during a visit to East Lansing, Mich. LINK

DEBT LIMIT The Washington Post's Robert Costa and Ed O'Keefe: " House GOP May Try To Link Debt Ceiling Approval To Changes To Health-Care Law" House Republicans were still struggling Tuesday to find consensus on how to handle their upcoming debt-limit negotiations with the White House, but they seem increasingly determined to avoid any kind of dramatic showdown with the president this time. "We should bring up a clean debt ceiling, let the Democrats pass it and just move on," said Rep. Raúl R. Labrador (R-Idaho). "Our constituents are fed up with the political theater. If we're not going to fight for something specific, we might as well let the Democrats own it." LINK

Politico's Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan: " House GOP Divided On Debt Ceiling" After several days of talks with their members, House Republican leaders have not been able to identify a debt ceiling package that could pass with only GOP support, according to multiple senior aides. In fact, they're nowhere close. Time is running short: The Obama administration says the ceiling needs to be lifted this month. GOP leadership's goal was to use this week to craft a package that could pass without the help of Democrats. But the party isn't rallying around a single proposal to lift the borrowing limit. LINK

PRESIDENT OBAMA The New Daily News' Adam Edelman: " Video Of Moment When President Obama Meets His Estranged Half-Brother" Never-before-seen video has emerged of President Obama meeting his long-lost half-brother for the first time in nearly 20 years. The 33-second clip, released Tuesday by "Inside Edition,"shows Mark Obama Ndesandjo, who is the President's younger half-brother, awkwardly reuniting with then-candidate Obama on a night during the 2008 presidential race. Ndesandjo, who shares a father with Obama, is seen waiting in a room when the President enters. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO " President Obama: When An Opportunity Exists For Young People, 'I Will Act'" LINK " Target, Neiman Marcus Executives Testify on Capitol Hill" LINK " US Rep. To Deputy Director Of Drug Policy: Your 'Part Of The Problem'" LINK " US Rep. At Hearing: 'People Don't Smoke Marijuana And Beat Up Their Wives'" LINK

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