The Note's Must-Reads for Tuesday, March 04, 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

CONGRESS // MIDTERM ELECTIONS ABC News' Gary Langer: " Economy Hits Dems, GOP "Out Of Touch - Pushing Anti-Incumbency To A 25 Year High" Anti-incumbent sentiment has reached a 25-year high in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, with economic frustration damaging Barack Obama's Democrats while the Republican Party labors under a broad view that it's out of touch with the concerns of most Americans. The Republicans run evenly with the Democrats in congressional vote preference among registered voters, historically a strong position for the GOP given its advantage in midterm turnout. Perhaps more important, with control of the U.S. Senate at stake, the Republicans have a 50-42 percent advantage for Senate seats in the 34 states holding those contests. LINK

The Washington Post's Dan Balz and Scott Clement: " Poll: Democrats' Advantage On Key Issues Is Not Translating To A Midterm-Election Edge" The American people trust Democrats more than Republicans on some of the key issues of the day, but that has not translated into any political advantage in the battle for control of the House and Senate in this year's midterm elections, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Midterm elections generally favor the party that does not hold the White House, which gives the GOP a head start this year. Political handicappers rate Republicans as favorites to maintain their House majority and say the GOP has a legitimate opportunity to gain the six seats it needs to take control of the Senate. LINK

BUDGET USA Today's Aamer Madhani: " Obama Budget Urges Expanding Earned Income Tax Credit" President Obama's 2015 budget to be unveiled on Tuesday will include a proposal to expand the earned-income tax credit for 13.5 million low-income Americans by closing tax loopholes benefiting certain fund managers and high-income, self-employed workers. Under Obama's proposal, 7.7 million workers would be eligible for a larger credit and 5.8 million workers would be made newly eligible for the credit. "This expansion would address an important missed opportunity in the EITC - identified by economists of both parties - to provide support and an additional incentive to work to childless adults, while also making it available to younger workers who are currently excluded," according to a White House report detailing the plan that was released Monday evening. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Damian Paletta: " Obama's Budget Blueprint To Lay Out Policy Goals" The White House will offer its annual blueprint for tax and spending policy on Tuesday, a plan that tries to put new force behind a number of proposals that have stalled in Congress. President Barack Obama's budget, which is expected to call for about $4 trillion in spending for the year that begins Oct. 1, will propose larger tax credits for childless workers, a higher minimum wage, a redesigned military and the elimination of certain tax breaks for upper-income Americans, among other things. LINK

The Washington Times' Ben Wolfgang and Stephen Dinan " Obama Budget Likely To Be Political Document" The budget President Obama will release Tuesday bows more to political realities than it does to the government's fiscal picture, as the White House looks to do no harm to fellow Democrats in the run-up to November's elections. The fiscal 2015 document will call for about $56 billion in spending on top of the more than $1 trillion level already set by Congress as part of a bipartisan budget deal in December, and will tick off a laundry list of Democratic agenda items. "You can view it as a reflection on the president's priorities for spending, and that means in an election year it's likely to have a lot of bullet-point campaign stickers in it," said Lara Brown, director of the graduate school of political management at George Washington University. LINK

The New York Times' Jackie Calmes: " Obama Budget Would Expand Low-Income Tax Break" When President Obama releases his proposed annual budget on Tuesday, he will grab his best opportunity of the year to show, in one comprehensive package of hard numbers and precise detail, how he would have the government address what he has called "the defining challenge of our time" - economic inequality. Many of Mr. Obama's perennial proposals on education, job training, research and more have hit a Republican wall in Congress, but this year the president is adding one with echoes of Republicans' own ideas. LINK

The Hill's Erik Wesson: " White House Touts Tax Breaks In Budget" The White House on Monday night touted middle-class tax breaks it is including in its 2015 budget proposal set for release on Tuesday. The expanded tax breaks were mostly called for in President Obama's State of the Union address last month, in which the president stressed combating income inequality as a top goal. The biggest is an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit used by lower-income workers, paid for by ending several tax breaks for more wealthy individuals. "The President's budget will lay out the details of this proposal, which would cut taxes for 13.5 million working Americans, while also proposing to expand tax cuts to help middle-class and working families afford child care, send their kids to college and retire with dignity," the White House said in a statement. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Kathleen Hennessey: " Obama's Budget Would Shift Tax Benefits From Wealthy To Poor" President Obama will propose a series of changes to the tax code in a budget plan Tuesday that would shift benefits from top earners to middle- and lower-income Americans, the White House said. In his 2015 budget plan, Obama will propose expanding or making permanent tax credits aimed at the working poor, families with young children, and college students. Obama's budget would also expand access to retirement savings for people who do not have an employer-sponsored retirement plan. LINK

RUSSIA // UKRAINE ABC News' Mary Bruce: " Obama: Invasion Of Ukraine 'Will Be A Costly Proposition For Russia'" President Obama had more stern warnings for Moscow today, saying the United States will take actions to "isolate" Russia if it continues its occupation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. "If, in fact, they continue on the current trajectory that they're on, that we are examining a whole series of steps - economics, diplomatic - that will isolate Russia and will have a negative impact on Russia's economy and its standing in the world," the president said. "Over time this will be a costly proposition for Russia, and now is the time for them to consider whether they can serve their interests in a way that resorts to diplomacy as opposed to force," he added. LINK

The New York Times' Peter Baker: " Top Russians Face Sanctions By U.S. For Crimea Crisis" The United States prepared Monday to impose sanctions on high-level Russian officials involved in the military occupation of Crimea, as the escalating crisis in Ukraine prompted turmoil in global markets, pounding the Russian ruble and driving up energy prices. The Obama administration suspended military ties to Russia, including exercises, port visits and planning meetings, just a day after calling off trade talks. If Moscow does not reverse course, officials said they would ban visas and freeze assets of select Russian officials in the chain of command as well as target state-run financial institutions. LINK

USA Today's Aamer Madhani: " Obama: Russia Is On 'Wrong Side Of History'" President Obama said on Monday that Russia is "on the wrong side of history" as he repeated his call for Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his country's ongoing military action in Ukraine. Obama said his administration continues to weigh economic and diplomatic penalties against Russia after Putin deployed thousands of troops into the semi-autonomous Crimean region of Ukraine. Hours later, the Pentagon said it was halting military cooperation with Russia. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman's office said it suspended upcoming trade and investment talks with Russia. LINK

Bloomberg's Terry Atlas and Nicole Gaouette: " Kerry's Kiev Trip Puts Him On Diplomatic Front Lines" Secretary of State John Kerry is due to arrive tomorrow in Kiev, as the U.S. and its European allies seek ways to increase economic and diplomatic pressure to deter Russian military escalation in Ukraine's Crimea region. Kerry's stop in the Ukrainian capital will raise the stakes by putting him on the diplomatic front lines in the increasingly tense standoff. Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said today in televised remarks that Russia threatened to seize Ukrainian warships if they don't surrender, and there were reports of more Russian troops moving into Crimea. LINK

The New York Daily News' Kerry burke, Joseph Straw, Corky Siemaszko and Oren Yaniv: " Russia Sets Sights On Ukraine Warships As U.S. Threatens Economic Punishment, Pentagon Suspends Military Ties" Surrender your warships - or we'll take them. That was the ultimatum from Moscow on Monday as the crisis in Crimea escalated and President Obama warned that Russia was on "the wrong side of history." Four Russian Navy vessels had the Ukrainian ships Ternopil and Slavutych boxed inside the Black Sea port of Sevastopol and were refusing to let them leave. Accusing the Russians of "piracy," Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said the captains and crews were "ready to defend their ships." LINK

The Washington Times' Dave Boyer and Ashish Kumar Sen: " Russia Ignores U.S. Threats Of Isolation" President Obama warned Russia on Monday of possible U.S. sanctions over its military land grab in Ukraine, but Moscow brushed aside international threats, tightening its stranglehold on Crimea and calling audaciously for a national unity government in Kiev. In Washington, Mr. Obama said the world is "largely united" against Russia's military action and he is considering economic and diplomatic steps that would gradually isolate Russia. He criticized the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin for being "on the wrong side of history." LINK

The Hill's Julian Pecquet: " Obama Warns Russia Of Political, Economic 'Isolation'" The United States will take a series of steps to isolate Russia economically and diplomatically if it does not end its intervention in Ukraine, President Obama warned Monday. In rhetoric that underscored how quickly the crisis in Ukraine has escalated, Obama said the U.S. would look to hurt Russia's economy if its leaders continued "on the current trajectory they're on." He said the administration was "examining a whole series of steps - economic, diplomatic - that will isolate Russia and will have a negative impact on Russia's economy and status in the world." The State Department said it was preparing sanctions to punish Russia for seizing the Crimean peninsula, a region in Eastern Ukraine with strong cultural and military ties to Moscow. LINK

HILLARY CLINTON Politico's Maggie Haberman: " Hillary Clinton's Ukraine - And 2016 - Problem" As a freshman U.S. senator in 2002, Hillary Clinton reveled in the freedom of her new position outside the White House. Being first lady "is more of a vicarious responsibility in that you are, like everyone in the White House, there because of one person, the president," she told The Washington Post at the time. In the Senate, "there's a lot more opportunity to express my own opinions, to work through what I would do and how I would do it." Twelve years later, Clinton is inextricably tied to another administration over which she yielded only partial influence. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO " Russia Faces Increased Tensions With The West After Sending Troops Into Crimea" LINK " Potential For Armed Conflict Grows In Ukraine" 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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