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!

May 15, 2012

  • Obama: JPMorgan Losses Make His Point

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    President Obama and JPMorgan Chase CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon each tried to make complex facts fit simple narratives this week. The president may have the easier task. Were JPMorgan's more than $2 billion in trading losses "stupid," but part of doing business, as Dimon suggested, or painful evidence that risk-taking by financial institutions poses a systemic threat and demands tougher federal restrictions, as Obama indicated Monday?

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    JP Morgan Chase & Company (CNN)

  • For Some, Same-Sex Marriage Is Not Politics, It’s Personal

    By Helene Cooper and Jeremy W. Peters, New York Times

    Some of their best friends turned out to be gay. Or a daughter (Dick Cheney). Or a close pal (Jon M. Huntsman Jr.). Or a couple seated close by (the Maryland lawmaker Wade Kach). President Obama’s embrace of same-sex marriage rights last week instantly touched off speculation about the possible political implications, but that misses a more nuanced point.

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  • Taxmageddon Sparks Rising Anxiety

    By Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman, Washington Post

    Defense contractors have slowed hiring. Tax advisers are warning firms not to count on favorite breaks. And hospitals are scouring their books for ways to cut costs. Across the U.S. economy, anxiety is rising about the potential for widespread disruptions after the November election, when a lame-duck Congress will have barely two months to resolve a grinding standoff over taxes and spending.

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  • Battle on the Airwaves

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    President Obama's campaign ad targets Mitt Romney's Bain Capital record, reports CNBC's John Harwood.

    Watch Video on CNBC
  • Obama Says JPMorgan Loss Shows Need for Tighter Rules

    By Julianna Goldman and Hans Nichols, Bloomberg News

    President Barack Obama said the specter of a well-run bank such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) suffering a $2 billion trading loss demonstrates the need for closer regulation of the financial services industry. On a day he raised cash from Wall Street donors at the New York apartment of Blackstone Group LP (BX) President Tony James and his campaign took aim at Republican Mitt Romney’s private-equity experience, Obama extolled free-market capitalism and risk taking while also arguing that tough Wall Street rules are needed to protect taxpayers and the banking industry.

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  • Obama’s Switch on Same-Sex Marriage Stirs Skepticism

    By Peter Baker and Dalia Sussman, New York Times

    Most Americans suspect that President Obama was motivated by politics, not policy, when he declared his support for same-sex marriage, according to a poll released on Monday, suggesting that the unplanned way it was announced shaped public attitudes.

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May 14, 2012

  • Is There a Romney Doctrine?

    By David E. Sanger, New York Times

    During the Republican primary debates in January, when Mitt Romney was still trying to outmaneuver the challengers who were questioning his conservative bona fides, he made a declaration about Afghanistan that led a faction of his foreign policy advisers to shake their heads in wonderment.

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  • After Obama’s Decision on Marriage, a Call to Pastors

    By Peter Baker and Rachel L. Swarns, New York Times

    About two hours after declaring his support for same-sex marriage last week, President Obama gathered eight or so African-American ministers on a conference call to explain himself. He had struggled with the decision, he said, but had come to believe it was the right one.

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  • After Divisive Primary, Shifting to the Center

    By John Harwood, New York Times

    Presidential nominees have several options for repositioning after ideologically charged primary campaigns: strategic silence, new proposals, a different tone on the brighter general election stage. And sometimes they can do nothing and watch their rivals do the shifting.

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  • Romney Seeks Evangelical Votes; Opposes Gay Marriage

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sought on Saturday to calm fears that his Mormon faith would be an obstacle to evangelical Christian voters, stressing shared conservative values while acknowledging religious differences.

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    Mitt Romney deliveres the commencement address at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. over the weekend (CNN)

  • Robert Caro revives Kennedy-Johnson feud

    By Jonathan Martin and John F. Harris, Politico

    To be a Democrat in Washington in the mid-1960s was to be confronted daily with the burning question: Which side are you on? There was the side with the power, President Lyndon B. Johnson and his team in the White House. And there was the side with the glamour, Robert F. Kennedy and his team of loyalists— mourning the death of John F. Kennedy, appalled by a man they regarded as a crude pretender in the Oval Office, dreaming of the day when the Kennedy reign would be restored.

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May 11, 2012

  • An Idea Whose Time Has Come

    By Todd S. Purdum, Vanity Fair

    It doesn’t really matter whether the substance of what Joe Biden said last Sunday about gay marriage was so very different from what his boss, Barack Obama, had said about the subject in the past (and there’s good evidence that it was not). What matters is the way that Biden said he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage, which made what Obama had said before—that his own views were “evolving”—look too cute by half.

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  • Obama Campaign Pushes the Issue of Gay Marriage

    By Mark Landler and Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

    Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. apologized to President Obama for hastening him into an endorsement of same-sex marriage, several people briefed on the exchange said Thursday, even as the White House sought to capitalize in the campaign on Mr. Obama’s long-awaited expression of support.

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  • What Kind of Kid Was Mitt Romney?

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    One of the many tensions in evaluating presidential candidates is that we don't want to disqualify them based on the stupidity of their youth. George W. Bush's blanket denial that "when I was young and irresponsible I was young and irresponsible" seems like a good rule. On the other hand, we want to know who these candidates are who seek to lead us (especially when they spend so much time offering us synthetic versions of themselves).

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  • Same-Sex Marriage Support Shows Pace of Social Change Accelerating

    By Peter Baker, New York Times

    When Bill Clinton was president, he waited until almost 1 in the morning in 1996 to sign a bill defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. He did not like it, but was unwilling to veto it 45 days before an election. Sixteen years later, President Obama endorsed same-sex marriage, a journey reflecting not just his own personal “evolution,” but also the dizzying pace of social change in an age of technology.

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  • Asked About Gay Rights, Boehner Sticks to Economy

    By Janet Hook, Wall Street Journal

    One day after President Barack Obama roiled the political world by declaring his support for gay marriage, House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) Thursday seemed determined to keep his distance from the subject. Pressed on the gay marriage issue at his weekly press conference, Mr. Boehner repeatedly tried to steer the discussion back to the economy.

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    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio (CNN)

  • Michele Bachmann’s New Swiss Political World

    By Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    Today we learned that Michele Bachmann has applied for and been granted Swiss citizenship. That’s a surprising development, given her general view of European-style welfare states.

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  • Dems' Elections Chief: Gay Marriage Will Have Little Impact

    By Susan Davis, USA TODAY

    The House Democrats' top campaign strategist said President Obama's declaration that gay Americans should be able to marry will have little ripple effect on races this November.

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May 10, 2012

  • Obama Evolves on Gay Marriage

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama's announcement Wednesday that he was done "evolving" and now supports same-sex marriage was, in retrospect, inevitable. Vice President Joe Biden made it so Sunday, when he remarked almost casually that he had grown "comfortable" with gay marriage. Biden's comfort level made Obama the nation's least comfortable politician, tied up in a knot of convoluted positions that he had hoped voters on both sides would overlook.

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  • Obama’s Gay Marriage Turnabout Forced Public by Biden

    By Margaret Talev and Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News

    At a fundraiser with gay activists in New York last June, the day before state legislators passed a same-sex marriage law, President Barack Obama considered the choice they were making. He concluded he’d almost certainly have voted “yes” too. Conversations with staff, family, friends and supporters also moved him in that direction.

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