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The Note's Must-Reads for Thursday, January 24, 2013

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 www.abcnews.com

Compiled by ABC News' Jayce Henderson, Amanda VanAllen and Jordan Mazza

GUN CONTROL ABC News' Arlette Saenz: "Biden to Host Google 'Fireside Hangout' on Gun Violence" Vice President Joe Biden will hold a modern-day version of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "fireside chat" Thursday when he participates in a Google+ Hangout on gun violence. LINK The Washington Post's Paul Kane: " Gun control proposals could split President Obama, Harry Reid" The success of President Obama's starkly liberal second-term agenda will rest largely on the shoulders of Senate Majority leader Harry M. Reid, who has been a rock-solid political ally and a valued legislative tactician for Obama during his first term. But for the first time since Obama became president four years ago, his political interests and Reid's may be diverging. Not so much because there is huge disagreement on the president's agenda, but because helping Obama may hurt vulnerable Democrats in the Senate. LINK

GOP The Hills' Jonathan Easley: " Boehner: Obama's goal is to 'annihilate' the Republican Party" Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he believes the primary goal of President Obama's second term is to "annihilate the Republican Party." "Given what we heard yesterday about the president's vision for his second term, it's pretty clear to me that he knows he can't do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans," Boehner said in a speech Tuesday to The Ripon Society. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Lisa Mascaro: " House GOP seeks steep cuts while raising debt ceiling" Stepping up their austerity campaign, House Republicans plan to demand far deeper spending cuts from President Obama to balance the federal budget in just 10 years, an extraordinary goal that would hit Medicare and other safety-net programs. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), confronted with a more conservative Republican majority, agreed to the dramatic initiative to coax reluctant rank-and-file lawmakers Wednesday to approve a temporary suspension of the $16.4-trillion debt limit without any cuts in spending. LINK

INAUGURATION The New York Daily News' David Hinckley: " President Obama's inauguration TV ratings drop by almost 50% from 2009" Slightly more than 20 million Americans tuned in to watch President Barack Obama inaugurated for his second term - a little more than half the audience that watched in 2009. These figures mirrored the sizes of the crowds that came to Washington to watch the ceremony in person. LINK

BENGHAZI The Washington Times' Guy Taylor and Shaun Waterman: " Tears and rage on Benghazi" She teetered on the verge of tears and laughed out loud. She pounded a table with her fists and snapped at lawmakers Wednesday. And once again, Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton accepted blame for the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, but repeatedly deflected criticism of the Obama administration's handling of the attack and its aftermath. LINK

Bloomberg's Indira A.R. Lakshmanan: " Clinton Defends Libya Actions Amid Republican Criticism" Hillary Clinton's last solo testimony as secretary of state was an intense cross-examination by Republicans about the deadly attack in Libya that marked the low point in her four-year tenure.More than five hours of questioning before Senate and House committees yesterday were punctuated by politicized exchanges that underscored the partisan divide over the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Inadequate security and initial, conflicting descriptions of the assault became a lightning rod for criticism of the Obama administration's posture on terrorist threats. LINK

PENTAGON The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker: " Pentagon Is Set to Lift Combat Ban for Women" Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is lifting the military's official ban on women in combat, which will open up hundreds of thousands of additional front-line jobs to them, senior defense officials said Wednesday. The groundbreaking decision overturns a 1994 Pentagon rule that restricts women from artillery, armor, infantry and other such combat roles, even though in reality women have frequently found themselves in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, where more than 20,000 have served. As of last year, more than 800 women had been wounded in the two wars and more than 130 had died. LINK

Politico's Reid Epstein: " No culture war over Pentagon shift" The Pentagon's decision to allow women to serve in combat didn't find many takers for a culture war fight. Instead, much like the response to President Barack Obama's ending of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and endorsement of gay marriage, the only voiced complaints came from a few scattered corners. Most of the president's political opponents - even old culture warriors themselves - either endorsed the decision or carefully avoided saying anything publicly against it. LINK

DEBT USA Today's Susan Davis: "House passes short-term debt-limit extension" The U.S. House approved, 285-144, a bill to suspend the nation's $16.4 trillion debt ceiling through May 18 to avert a U.S. default on its legal obligations and buy Washington more time to negotiate budget priorities. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Janet Hook, Corey Boles, and Patrick O'Connor: "Passing Debt Bill, GOP Pledges End to Deficits" The House defused one potential debt crisis Wednesday, while a top Republican set the stage for a far broader debate over whether it is possible to actually balance the U.S. budget in coming years. LINK

PRESIDENT OBAMA The Boston Globe's Scot Lehigh: " To succeed, Obama must take his case to the people" President Obama tried to galvanize the country to progressive purpose in his inaugural speech, arguing that in this era, advancing time-honored individual aspirations requires collective action. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO "Hillary Clinton Testifies Before Congress" LINK

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