The Note's Must-Reads for Friday, December 28, 2012

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 and Jordan Mazza

FISCAL CLIFF: ABC News' Jon Karl, Sunlen Miller, John Parkinson, and Sarah Parnass: " White House Says It Has No New Fiscal Cliff Plan" The White House said today it has no plans to offer new proposals to avoid the fiscal cliff which looms over the country's economy just five days from now, but will meet Friday with Congressional leaders in a last ditch effort to forge a deal. LINK

The New York Times' Jennifer Steinhauer: " Summoned Back to Work, Senators Chafe at Inaction" Senators bid hasty goodbyes to families, donned ties and pantsuits in lieu of sweat pants and Christmas sweaters and one by one returned to the Capitol on Thursday to begin the business of doing nothing in particular. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Janet Hook and Carol E. Lee: " Prospects for Cliff Deal Dim" Congress and the White House took small steps toward breaking the budget impasse Thursday, but Democrats and Republicans grew increasingly fearful they won't be able to avert the tax increases and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff, a prospect that is unnerving consumers and investors. LINK

USA Today's Susan Davis and David Jackson: " Congress returns for yearend 'fiscal cliff' showdown" House Republican leaders told lawmakers to return to Washington on Sunday, setting the stage for a dramatic final act in this Congress to avert the year-end "fiscal cliff." LINK

The Boston Globe's Christopher Rowland: " Brief delay built into fiscal cliff tax hikes" Washington engaged in yet another day of blame and bluster with no visible signs of progress to avoid federal tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to take hold on Tuesday, as government and business leaders began to forecast scenarios of what will happen if the "fiscal cliff" threshold is crossed. The good news: the full effects of the cliff will not be triggered immediately as dawn rises on the New Year. Declining consumer and business confidence and Wall Street jitters are likely to be the most immediate effects, rather than visible, concrete evidence like employee paycheck reductions and government layoffs. LINK

The Hill's Daniel Strauss: " House eyes Sunday return as 11th hour work on fiscal cliff begins" Congressional leaders will meet at the White House on Friday and he House will come back into session on Sunday night, setting the stage for an eleventh-hour push on legislation to avoid the "fiscal cliff." Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) informed lawmakers in a GOP conference call Thursday about the new House schedule, which could allow lawmakers to vote Sunday or Monday on a fiscal-cliff deal - if one can be put together by President Obama and the Senate. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Kathleen Hennessey and Lisa Mascaro: " At cliff's edge, Obama and congressional leaders set talks" Their deadline rushing closer, President Obama and the top four congressional leaders announced plans to meet Friday to try to pick up the pieces of the shattered budget talks, even as they spent Thursday positioning themselves to dodge the blame for failure. Expectations for a breakthrough at the White House huddle were low, but it was clear the president and the lawmakers felt obligated to at least appear to be pushing for a solution right up to the Dec. 31 deadline, when all taxpayers will see their income taxes rise if a deal is not reached. LINK

The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan: " 'After you' dance on 'fiscal cliff' deadline" House Republican leaders said Thursday that they will bring their chamber back to town this weekend to try to avert the "fiscal cliff" - the sole optimistic sign on a day when pessimism deepened within both parties on whether Congress can avoid the looming tax increases and automatic spending cuts. Neither side offered a realistic path forward, with Republicans saying that they are waiting on President Obama to send over a scaled-down proposal for review and the White House telling reporters he has no plans to do so. LINK

The Washington Post's Lori Montgomery and Rosalind Helderman: " Obama summons congressional leaders for 'fiscal cliff' talks" President Obama summoned congressional leaders to a Friday summit at the White House in a last-ditch effort to protect taxpayers, unemployed workers and the fragile U.S. recovery from severe austerity measures set to hit in just four days. Also Thursday, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that he would call the House back into session this weekend. And in perhaps the most significant development, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for the first time was engaged directly in talks with the White House. He signaled an interest in cutting a deal. LINK

Politico's Ben White: " Longer the fiscal cliff dive, harder the economic hit" If the U.S. dives off the fiscal cliff at the end of the month, as seems more likely by the moment, the markets and economic impact will depend on the depth of the plunge and the quality of the landing. If a deal is struck sometime in January to reinstate at least some of the Bush tax cuts and a patch is applied to ensure the alternative minimum tax does not slam the middle class, the damage should be limited, many economists say. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO: " Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf to Saddam Hussein: 'Get Outta Town'" LINK

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