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 17, 2012

  • 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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  • Economy Boosts Obama in New Poll

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    CNBC's John Harwood has the details on a new poll which shows President Obama's popularity is on the rise.

    Watch Video on CNBC

  • Mitt Romney, Donald Trump Raise Campaign Cash at New York Bankruptcy Law Firm

    By Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    Where in the world has Mitt Romney been? There were no public events on his schedule today, except for an appearance this evening at an office furniture manufacturer near Grand Rapids, Mich. The campaign has been uncommunicative about where he was and what he’s been doing.
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Feb 15, 2012

  • Israeli P.M.: Iran's 'Aggression Must Be Stopped'

    By Pierre Thomas, ABC News

    Tensions with Iran have increased after the prime minister's comments.

    Watch and Read more
  • U.S. Carrier Group Makes Way Through Strait of Hormuz

    By Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    It was just after dawn when three U.S. warships and a carrier strike group began their long, tense transit through the Strait of Hormuz. The strait has become a pressure point as Iran increases the heat of its rhetoric against the United States because of fresh economic sanctions imposed against it.

    Watch and Read more
  • Tentative payroll tax pact reached

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Congress neared a deal late Tuesday to extend the payroll tax break and unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed as well as head off a scheduled Medicare payment drop to doctors who treat seniors through the end of the year as part of a $160 billion legislative package.

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  • Can Rick Santorum become more than ‘not Romney’?

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    This is Rick Santorum’s week — in the polls, that is. It was his week last week, too, at least on Tuesday night, when he won Republican presidential primary contests in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado. He got no guaranteed delegates, but those victories surely turned him into the latest matinee idol of conservatives and gave him a tremendous boost in the polls.


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  • Obama welcomes Chinese vice president at start of U.S. tour

    By Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama greeted the Chinese heir apparent in the Oval Office on Tuesday morning, a venue where the U.S. president usually receives only the nation's closest friends. But even as the two countries eye one another warily, the Obama administration wants to keep its options open with Vice President Xi Jinping as he prepares to take his place as president next year.

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Feb 14, 2012

  • Obama Budget Optimistic on Economic Growth, Again

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    President Obama’s economists are nothing if not optimistic. In the fiscal year 2013 presidential budget request, they’ve once again forecast higher future growth than their private-sector peers – about a half-point of gross domestic product growth more, per year, than the 45 economists included in the Philadelphia Fed’s Survey of Professional Forecasters.
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    President Obama's FY 2013 Budget (CNN)

  • Because I Said So

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    William Buckley famously said that a conservative was someone who stood athwart history yelling stop. Mitt Romney, who says he is "severely conservative," would presumably point at history with a shotgun. The ad-libbed phrase in Romney's speech to CPAC last Friday was new, but the style was familiar. Romney is an assertion candidate rather than a persuasion candidate. He declares something and voters are meant to believe that it is so.
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  • U.S. General Prepared for Iranian Aggression

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    Iran accused of plotting car bomb attacks against diplomats in India, Georgia.
    Watch Video on ABC News

  • Polls Show Rick Santorum Virtually Tied with Mitt Romney Nationally

    By Karen Tumulty and Amy Gardner, Washington Post

    With two new polls showing underdog Rick Santorum gaining on front-runner Mitt Romney among Republicans nationally, the contenders for the GOP presidential nomination are taking advantage of a lull between primary contests to stockpile resources and rally supporters for the next phase of the race.
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  • Heaviest 2013 Defense Budget Cuts Would Fall on Troops

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    As the Pentagon sought to show Monday that it had made tough spending decisions in its fiscal 2013 budget proposal, the brunt of the reductions would fall on U.S. ground troops, which face job losses, modest pay raises and increased health care costs while serving in a smaller force.
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Feb 13, 2012

  • Obama Budget is Preview of Election Battle

    By Kathleen Hennessey and Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama's 2013 budget, scheduled for release Monday, offers a preview of the November election as both parties angle to refine the vision they hope to sell to voters. Obama's plan and the House Republicans' answer, due in the spring, are aimed as much at offering voters a choice as at promoting policies destined for enactment.
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  • Election 2012: Republicans united on Goal — Beat Obama — Divided on How to Get There

    By Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    What in the world is the matter with the Republican Party? This is an election year when pretty much everything should be going the GOP’s way. A Democratic president is facing the worst reelection environment in a generation. The conservative base is fired up to defeat him and should be riding high after securing the largest GOP House majority since the 1940s. Looser campaign finance restrictions have unleashed the ability of the party’s wealthiest donors to spend unlimited amounts.
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    Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney Campaigning (CNN)