Essential Reads

Essential Reads is your one-stop source for the top stories of the day as reported by your favorite Washington Week panelists. It's a simple way to save time and stay informed about the news you need to know. Check it out every day!

Feb 23, 2012

  • Mitt Romney Attacks Put Rick Santorum on Defensive in GOP Presidential Debate

    By Dan Balz and Sandhya Somashekhar, Washington Post

    Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum was thrown on the defensive here Wednesday night as rival Mitt Romney attacked the former senator over spending and earmarks and accused him of compiling an inconsistent and contradictory record. In the first GOP debate since he won a trio of states two weeks ago, Santorum fired back, accusing Romney of his own inconsistencies, but he struggled under repeated criticism to explain his record. The squabbling became so intense at times that the two talked past each other, with voices raised, each trying to gain the upper hand.
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Feb 22, 2012

  • Santorum's Risky Message

    With John Dickerson, CBS News

    As Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum emerges as the new front-runner, his radical brand of conservatism is put on full display. Scott Pelley spoke with CBS News political director John Dickerson on the risk his messages pose in the general election.

    Watch Video on CBS News

  • Obama Readies Plan to Cut Corporate Tax Rate

    By Richard Rubin and Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News

    The Obama administration will propose today reducing the U.S. corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 35 percent along with removing tax breaks for companies to help offset lost revenue, an administration official said. The plan would eliminate dozens of tax breaks and reshape the current manufacturing deduction to reduce the tax rate on manufacturing to 25 percent, according to the official, who outlined the proposal on condition of anonymity because it hadn’t been released.
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  • SCOTUS to Reevaluate Affirmative Action

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case involving the University of Texas at Austin, a school that said it based its admission policy on an earlier ruling about racial diversity in higher education.

    Watch Video on NBC News

  • Republican Presidential Contest Moves to Arizona and Michigan

    By Dan Balz and Sandhya Somashekhar, Washington Post

    Front-runners Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum opened one of the most crucial periods in the Republican presidential campaign Tuesday, with Romney going on the attack while suddenly claiming the mantle of underdog as he seeks to avoid potentially devastating losses in next Tuesday’s primaries in Arizona and Michigan.
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  • U.S. Forces Burn Old Copies of the Koran

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    Officials claim it was a misunderstanding when the holy books were discarded.

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    Watch Video on ABC News

Feb 21, 2012

  • Mitt Romney’s Near-Death Candidacy

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    In a lot of ways the coming Michigan primary feels like the Florida primary again for Mitt Romney. He's facing another near-death experience. He wakes every morning to news accounts of the five things he needs to do to right in his campaign before it dies. Then, after choking that down, he rolls over to the other stories—speculating about which white-knight candidate might arrive to rescue the GOP from the botch Mitt Romney has made of things.
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  • As Santorum Seizes Social Issues, Romney Demurs

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Philosophical differences between the top two Republican presidential candidates are becoming starker as Rick Santorum drives harder on religious and social issues that Mitt Romney rarely discusses in detail.
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    Mitt Romney Campaigns in Cincinnati, Ohio (CNN)

  • Obama’s Tax Policy Targets Rising Sector of His Base: The Affluent

    By John Harwood, New York Times

    Partisan clashes over President Obama’s proposed tax increases have obscured something remarkable: that the affluent Americans targeted by his policy represent a growing share of his own party’s base. You would not know it from Republican cries of class warfare swirling around Mr. Obama’s new budget, which reiterates his calls for higher taxes on individuals earning more than $200,000 and households earning more than $250,000.
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  • Romney Goes After Santorum on Budget, in Battle He Didn’t Bargain For

    By Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg, New York Times

    Mitt Romney was barely six minutes into a campaign speech here on Monday afternoon, dwelling on the success story of a local bioscience company, when he broached a topic that is suddenly confounding his Republican presidential aspirations: Rick Santorum.
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  • Rough Sledding Ahead for Mitt Romney

    By National Journal Staff

    It’s a brave new world for Mitt Romney, no longer in the lead in national primary polls and not holding the immense fundraising advantage he once did. It’s going to be rough sledding ahead for the once-clear GOP frontrunner. The latest fundraising figures illustrate just how little bang for the buck Romney got in January. He won two big primaries – New Hampshire and Florida – but is in worse position now than when he started. For those efforts, his campaign spent about $18.7 million and the Restore Our Future super PAC that supports him spent almost $14 million.
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Feb 17, 2012

  • Another Doomed Exercise

    By Greg Ip, The Economist

    Back in 2009 Barack Obama’s first budget called for repealing his predecessor’s tax cuts on the rich, eliminating tax breaks for multinationals and boosting the tax rate on capital gains. A year later Mr Obama repeated those proposals, and added new ones: no more breaks for fossil-fuel producers and a “financial crisis responsibility fee” on banks.
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  • Santorum Fights Back Against Romney in Detroit

    By Samuel P. Jacobs, with Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Republican White House hopeful Rick Santorum defended himself against attacks from Mitt Romney on Thursday as his hopes rose of dealing a heavy blow in Michigan to his main rival, who was the party front-runner before falling behind in national polls.
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    Former Senator Rick Santorum speaks in Novi, MI (CNN)

  • Obama’s Trip West Fills His Campaign’s Coffers

    By Helene Cooper, New York Times

    If there were any doubts that President Obama had plunged fully into his re-election campaign, they were erased on Thursday as the president spent an entire day hopscotching some of California’s fanciest neighborhoods in search of dollars to finance his bid for a second term.
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  • Romney now trailing Santorum in Mich.

    With John Dickerson, CBS News

    CBS News political director John Dickerson offers analysis of the GOP presidential race as the Michigan primary approaches.

    Watch Video on CBS News

  • The Gentleman from Michigan

    By Todd S. Purdum, Vanity Fair

    In an election year in which the corrosiveness of politics seems to reach a new high every month, and the bitterness of the G.O.P.-nomination fight a new low with each primary and caucus, I thought it might be instructive to spend a moment with the man who has arguably seen more of politics than anyone else still active in Washington, Representative John D. Dingell of Michigan, the Dean of the House.
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  • President Obama, Speaking at L.A. Fundraiser, Points to Positive Changes

    By Kathleen Hennessey and Michael Finnegan, with Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    While acknowledging that "change is hard," President Obama touted the nation's economic progress on his watch during a celebrity-studded fundraising stopover Wednesday night in Los Angeles. Addressing a crowd of about 1,000 at an outdoor reception, Obama needled Angelenos about the weather — "You're all cold. This is balmy, people" — then talked about the change he promised in the 2008 campaign, and the depth of the nation's economic troubles when he took office.
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Feb 16, 2012

  • Santorum's Surge

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    When this year's presidential campaign began, Rick Santorum looked like a fringe candidate, consigned permanently to the outside edge of an overcrowded debate stage. But as earlier conservative front-runners sputtered, Santorum plugged away, sticking doggedly to his unfashionable message of uncompromising social conservatism.
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    GOP Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum in Tioga, ND (CNN)

  • Congress hammers out deal to extend payroll tax cut

    By Susan Davis, USA TODAY

    Congress reached an agreement late Wednesday to extend the temporary payroll tax cut and long-term unemployment benefits for an additional 10 months as part of a $150 billion legislative compromise. Lawmakers are likely to pass the bill and send it to President Obama by the end of the week.
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  • Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to endorse Romney

    By Dan Balz and Aaron Blake, Washington Post

    Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) will endorse Mitt Romney for president at a luncheon on Thursday, according to two sources with knowledge of his decision. MIRS news reported Wednesday evening that the two men will appear together at a luncheon Thursday for a “major announcement.”
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