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 27, 2012

  • Rick Santorum presses culture wars attack

    By Nia-Malika Henderson, The Washington Post

    Rick Santorum has opened up a new and provocative front in the political culture wars as he boldly tries to cast the race for the White House as a battle between the secular and the religious. In back-to-back speeches over the weekend, the candidate described President Obama as “a snob” for focusing on the importance of a college education and disparaged the idea of a separation between church and state by attacking President John F. Kennedy, who made it a key point in his 1960 campaign.

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Feb 24, 2012

  • Conventional Wisdom

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Disney may be in Orlando, but in Republican Party politics, Tampa is the home of Fantasyland. That's where the GOP convention will be held the week of Aug. 27. As the Republican race appears more likely to stretch into spring (or beyond), journalists and political operatives have started to imagine make-believe scenarios for what might happen if GOP delegates show up with funny hats, pins, and suntan lotion but no confirmed nominee.
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  • "Cool" Obama Returns GOP Fire on Gas Prices

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    President Obama said Thursday in Miami that Republicans who want his job and others in Congress are not telling America the truth. Whether the president's complaints had merit was not the news. What was noteworthy was how the GOP assaults leveled at the president during the campaign -- and the pile-up of televised presidential debates -- are registering with Obama.
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  • What Happens if Mitt Romney Wins Michigan?

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    For the past week, much of the focus of the Republican presidential race has centered on the consequences Mitt Romney will face if he loses Michigan’s primary. After a debate in Arizona on Wednesday, the question should be: What will happen if he wins his home state? Polls in Michigan show a tight race between Romney and former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.). Romney won Michigan four years ago, but there’s no guarantee he will do so again on Tuesday.
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  • Koran Burning in Afghanistan Fuels Bloody New Attacks on U.S. Forces

    By Yochi J. Dreazen, National Journal

    The deaths of a pair of American soldiers in Afghanistan Thursday highlights the bloody intersection of two dangerous aspects of the long war there: the growing Afghan fury over the burning of Korans and the continued killings of Western troops by their Afghan counterparts. An Afghan soldier shot and killed the U.S. soldiers at an outpost in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province and then, according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter, fled into the large crowd of demonstrators outside the base. They were protesting reports that American troops had burned copies of the Koran, the holiest text in Islam.
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    Protests in Afghanistan over burnt Qurans (CNN)

  • Poll: Santorum Surges in Pennsylvania

    By Naftali Bendavid, Wall Street Journal

    Rick Santorum might not seem like a good candidate for a “favorite son” vote in Pennsylvania. After all, last time he ran in the state, Mr. Santorum was clobbered by 18 points in his 2006 Senate re-election race—one of the worst losses for a sitting senator in decades.
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Feb 23, 2012

  • Out of Air in Arizona

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    he 20th and perhaps final Republican presidential debate wheezed across the finish line and collapsed. At times it felt like the candidates had already talked themselves out on the big themes and could only bicker over table scraps. There was a long symposium on how earmarks and the congressional appropriating process work. Then, there was a confusing discussion of Arlen Specter, his re-election, and the judiciary committee. Who won? Ask the undecided Republicans in Michigan.
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  • Study Tests Claims of Republican Candidates’ Debt Plans

    By Jackie Calmes, New York Times

    A centrist budget-watchdog group is punching trillion-dollar holes in the claims of Republican presidential candidates that they would rein in the mounting federal debt if elected, according to an analysis to be released on Thursday.
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  • Afghanistan Protests: U.S. Embassy on Lock Down

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    An accidental burning of Qurans led to Anti-U.S. protests.

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  • Obama's Corporate Tax Plan Presages Election Debate

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    President Obama's corporate tax reform "framework" unveiled Wednesday is unlikely to become law in an election year, but a partisan and economically rooted debate about individual and business taxes will figure prominently before November. Two competing visions for fiscal rejuvenation after 2013 are guaranteed to clash when Obama and a GOP nominee finally face one another later this year.
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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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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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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