The Note's Must-Reads for Friday, July 15, 2011

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 Digital News Associates Jayce Henderson, Jacqueline Fernandez and Desk Assistant Amanda VanAllen

DEBT CRISIS: ABC News’ Jake Tapper: “" It's Decision Time," Says the President” Thursday's negotiating session between the President and Capitol Hill lawmakers lasted one hour and 20 minutes and was described as cordial. The most noteworthy decision was that there will be no meeting on Friday. "The meeting ended without an agreement, but also without incident," said a GOP aide. "So I guess that's progress." LINK

USA Todays’ Richard Wolf and David Jackson: “ Looking for debt deal, Obama outlines cuts” President Obama implored congressional leaders Thursday to reach a deal on raising the nation's $14.3 trillion borrowing limit by this weekend to reassure jittery world financial markets, and he suggested he could settle for a smaller deficit-reduction package than he originally sought. Rather than continue to push for $4 trillion in savings over the next decade, Obama outlined a plan that would achieve roughly $2 trillion, almost entirely from spending reductions. LINK

The Hills’ Sam Youngman and Erik Wasson: “ Obama: 'It's decision time'” Declaring it “decision time,” President Obama is giving congressional leaders until the weekend to determine the size and scope of a package to reduce the deficit and increase the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit. At a meeting described by multiple officials as “polite” and “cordial,” negotiators finished scouring the potential elements of a deficit-reduction deal, and Obama instructed Republican and Democratic leaders to discuss with their caucuses what kind of measure could pass Congress by the Aug. 2 deadline set by the Treasury Department for raising the debt ceiling. LINK

Los Angeles Times: “ Debt-ceiling denial won't work” Even if the White House and congressional leaders reach a deal to raise the debt limit, they face at least two hurdles to persuading rank-and-file Republicans to go along. Some cling to a disturbing belief that the Treasury Department doesn't need to borrow more money to keep America's creditors happy. And many more insist that the deal must include a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget. LINK

The New York Times’ Jackie Calmes: “ Behind Battle Over Debt, a War Over Government” The endgame in the fight to increase the nation’s debt limit has only begun, but intense exchanges this week between the two parties have made it clear that this is not so much a negotiation over dollars and cents as a broader clash between the two parties over the size and role of government. LINK

The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold: “ GOP dissent complicates path to resolving debt-ceiling crisis” The president, the speaker of the House, the chairman of the Federal Reserve and Moody’s credit-rating agency all say that a failure to raise the U.S. debt ceiling by Aug. 2 would be an economic catastrophe and must be avoided. LINK

The Washington Post’s Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane: “ As White House talks falter, Senate works on agreement to raise debt limit” President Obama prepared Thursday to bring bipartisan talks over the debt to a close, as Senate leaders worked across party lines to craft an alternative strategy to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit and avert a government default. LINK

Politico’s David Rogers: “ As debt ceiling scramble continues, Boehner signals options are open” With White House debt talks at a make-or-break stage, Speaker John Boehner signaled Thursday that he’s open to new options to avert a default next month, including a novel Senate plan that would surrender much of Congress’s power over Treasury’s borrowing to the president. It would be a remarkable shift for House Republicans — something like telling Pickett’s charge to go around Cemetery Ridge and not up it. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Carol E. Lee and Janet hook: “ Plan B emerges on debt” A backup plan to cut the federal deficit and keep the U.S. government from default gained momentum Thursday even as President Barack Obama and congressional leaders paused their negotiations to determine if they can reach a deal. Ratcheting higher the pressure on Washington to strike a deal, Standard & Poor's for the first time said there was a 50% chance it would downgrade its rating of long-term U.S. debt within three months because the chances of default were "increasing" and the political debate about deficit reduction and the debt ceiling had "only become more entangled." LINK

CONGRESS: The Washington Times’ Stephen Dinan: “ As issues pile up, Senate sets record for sloth” Big issues are piling up in Congress, but halfway through the year, the Senate is on pace for its least productive legislative session since records were first kept, and the House is also operating at a clip well below normal, according to an analysis of floor activity by The Washington Times. LINK

LOCAL POLITICS / OTHER: The Boston Globe’s Frank Phillips and Noah Bierman: “ Mullan to quit as chief of transit” Governor Deval Patrick’s embattled transportation secretary, Jeffrey B. Mullan, said he will step down by year’s end for personal reasons, a decision he said he conveyed to the administration in May. Mullan confirmed his intentions yesterday after the Globe published an online report about his forthcoming departure. LINK

New York Daily News’Kenneth Lovett: “ Gov. Cuomo nabs 71% approval rating from New Yorkers but shouldn't seek White House yet: poll” New Yorkers largely love Gov. Cuomo and the job he's doing, but say it's way too soon for him to think of relocating to the White House, a new poll shows. Cuomo ends his first legislative session with a 71% approval rating that stretches across all political parties, the Siena Research Institute poll found. That's up from 68% last month. Just 21% view the governor. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS: Lawmakers Grill Elizabeth Warren” LINK Josh Rogin on Foreign Policies of 2012 GOP CandidatesLINK Rep. Van Hollen: No Cuts to BenefitsLINK

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