The Note's Must-Reads for Tuesday, November 27, 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, Amanda VanAllen and Carrie Halperin

GOP ABC News' Michael Falcone and Amy Walter: " Cracks In The Conservative Armor" So much for pledges? As lawmakers return to Washington today, the deadline to put on the brakes before the country plunges off the fiscal cliff is now in sight, and it appears that both sides are open to some wheeling and dealing. LINK

SPENDING The New York Times' Robert Pear: " Efforts to Curb Social Spending Face Resistance" President Obama's re-election and Democratic gains in Congress were supposed to make it easier for the party to strike a deal with Republicans to resolve the year-end fiscal crisis by providing new leverage. But they could also make it harder as empowered Democrats, including some elected on liberal platforms, resist significant changes in entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. LINK

TAXES The Hills' Amie Parnes, Erik Wasson and Russell Berman: " Obama tries to corner GOP over tax rates for the middle class" President Obama and Democrats are trying to back the GOP into a corner over tax hikes just as they did on the payroll tax fight a year ago. The president and his party are arguing that Republicans should agree to extend the George W. Bush-era tax rates immediately on families earning up to $250,000 a year, and not dig in their heels to prevent rates from rising for higher-income earners. LINK

FISCAL CLIFF The Los Angeles Times' Christi Parsons: "White House not yet ready to declare a 'fiscal cliff' impasse" Aides to President Obama say it's way too early to declare an "impasse" in the talks to avert the fiscal cliff, a word that cropped up Monday on Capitol Hill. "We remain confident we can achieve an agreement," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. LINK

The Washington Times' Dave Boyer: "' Fiscal cliff' negotiations stall - again - on question of raising tax rates" he talks between President Obama and congressional Republicans to avoid looming tax hikes and steep spending cuts regressed Monday to the same old sticking point - raising taxes on wealthier Americans. Although both sides had expressed optimism before Thanksgiving that they would reach a deal to prevent a serious blow to the economy in January, the post-holiday pronouncements from the White House showed a re-emphasis on the president's position that tax rates must rise for families earning more than $250,000 per year. LINK

Bloomberg's Richard Rubin and Heidi Przybyla: " Fiscal Cliff Compromise Elusive as Congress Returns" Republicans' post-election rhetorical openness to higher taxes comes with a price that neither side of the fiscal debate in Washington may be willing to pay. To get a deal with Democrats, Republicans would have to turn their talk of higher revenue into a vote that may split the party. And to transform Republicans' talk into action, Democrats would need to accept deeper cuts to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid than they're willing to countenance. LINK The Washington Post's Zachary Goldfarb and Lori Montgomery: " On 'fiscal cliff,' both sides lay groundwork for debate's next phase" Private talks between President Obama and top congressional leaders in search of a deal to avoid the year-end "fiscal cliff" are accelerating, officials said Monday, even as the president began ramping up pressure on Republicans to extend tax cuts for the middle class. Obama telephoned House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) over the weekend, in a sign that high-level negotiations are advancing with only weeks to go before an automatic series of spending cuts and tax hikes starts to hit nearly every American. LINK

OTHER Politico's Manu Raju: " Retirement watch: Will they stay or will they go?" Jay Rockefeller won't talk about it. Neither will fellow Democrats Tom Harkin, Carl Levin, Tim Johnson and Frank Lautenberg. None of these senior senators will give a definitive answer about whether they're running for reelection in 2014. LINK

ABCNEWS VIDEO " Obama Readies for Major Cabinet Shakeup" LINK

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