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First Read Flash: Deal or no deal?

No agreement on a budget deal was reached during a one-on-one session between Patty Murray and Paul Ryan as next week's deadline for a budget pact looms.

Politico: "Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan met Wednesday as they try to hash out a multi-year budget deal, but no agreement was reached during the one-on-one session in the Capitol, according to multiple sources familiar with the talks. The meeting between the top two negotiators comes more than one week before a Dec. 13 deadline for Murray and Ryan to finish a budget pact that would set spending levels through 2015, while replacing part of the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester."

NBC's Luke Russert & Frank Thorp take a look at what a budget deal could look like. 

NBC News: "President Barack Obama put a spotlight on rising income inequality in a major economic speech on Wednesday, arguing that the disparity poses a "fundamental threat" to the American dream. Marshaling both the recent papal exhortation by Pope Francis and a flurry of statistics reflecting a growing income gap between the wealthiest Americans and most others, Obama urged Washington to adopt policies to address the economic divide."

Boston Herald: " Elizabeth Warren did the convenient thing yesterday. She fell on her presidential sword, and took herself out of contention for 2016."

NBC's Ali Weinberg: "Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry may not be saying whether he's running for president again, but he sure is acting like it.  His two-day swing through the first-in-the-South primary state had all the hallmarks of a campaign blitz -- jokes about college football; heavy praise of the state's governor, Nikki Haley; and even a blueprint, if a very broad one, of what the Republican Party should be trying to accomplish."

New York Times: "President Obama and congressional Democrats, seizing on the good news of an improving health care website and rising enrollments, on Wednesday highlighted parts of the law that are popular with the public and reminded Americans, and the law’s opponents, of what would be lost if the Affordable Care Act were repealed. As part of that political counteroffensive, which began this week, Democratic congresswomen challenged Republicans to present an alternative that would provide free preventive health services for the 105 million Americans who have already received them under the law. At the same time, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee singled out about 60 House Republicans, accusing them of plotting to take away immunizations for children, cancer screenings and mammograms."

National Journal: "It’s not the voters who hate Obamacare the most who are going to matter in next year’s elections. It’s the independents who frequently side with Democrats but could, if propelled by a distaste for the health care law, take a serious look at the GOP in 2014. And on this front, Democrats have a big problem with one of their most crucial constituencies—white women."

The Hill: "White House chief of staff Denis McDonough held an unpublicized meeting with Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), chairman of the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, amid anger and anxiety that ObamaCare’s botched rollout could cost the party its majority next year. In the meeting, requested by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), McDonough and Bennet discussed what the White House could do to help vulnerable Senate Democrats and “talked about developing a stronger relationship with the White House,” according to one senior Democratic aide familiar with the conversation. "

Politico: "The National Republican Congressional Committee wants to make sure there are no Todd Akin-style gaffes next year, so they’re meeting with top aides to sitting Republicans to teach them what to say — or not to say — on the trail, especially when their boss is running against a woman. Speaker John Boehner is serious, too. His own top aides met recently with Republican staff to discuss how lawmakers should talk to women constituents."

ALASKA: Roll Call: "In a unique twist among most Republican Senate primaries this cycle, the fight for the nomination in Alaska has become a two-headed battle for the establishment mantle. Rather than an ideological showdown, the candidates are utilizing their various connections to prove they are better positioned to take on one of the top GOP targets in 2014, Democratic Sen. Mark Begich."

ARKANSAS: Wall Street Journal: "Sen. Marco Rubio plans to come to the aid of a House Republican colleague this week with an oversized TV ad buy in Arkansas supporting the Senate campaign of Rep. Tom Cotton. The ad, paid for by Mr. Rubio’s political-action committee, will mark the largest expenditure to date this cycle by a Senate leadership PAC. Rubio aides, who declined to provide a precise sum, say the buy will dwarf the $120,000 ad purchase the PAC made earlier this year to support New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is not up for re-election until 2016.

National Journal: "It's never good when a party committee is denounced by a member of its own party. But that's what happened Wednesday, when the Senate campaign of GOP Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas denounced as "bizarre and offensive" an attack from the National Republican Senatorial Committee on the religious faith of Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark."