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 17, 2012

  • Obama and House Republicans Offer Taste of Renewed Fight Over the Debt Ceiling

    By Helene Cooper, New York Times

    President Obama and Congressional Republicans staged a preview of a looming end-of-year battle on Wednesday, as the president warned Republicans that he would not allow Congress to hold the economy “hostage” to another fight over whether to raise the country’s debt ceiling without accompanying cuts in spending.

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    (CNN, File Photo)

  • Biden Plays Attack Dog on Bain

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    For the first time, Vice President Joe Biden is expected to take up a leading attack against presumptive nominee Mitt Romney in the general election: Romney's record at the private equity firm Bain Capital. A manufacturing plant in Youngstown, Ohio will offer the optics for today's assault on Romney's practice of taking over struggling companies and in some cases, walking away with multimillion-dollar profits while the employees got sacked. In other cases (frequently overlooked by Obama's campaign), the companies thrived.

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  • G.O.P. ‘Super PAC’ Weighs Hard-Line Attack on Obama

    By Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg, New York Times

    A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the “super PAC” era and attack President Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away from.

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  • Seeking the Missing Five Million Workers

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    In the past two years, the over-age-16 population of U.S. has grown by 5.4 million. But the "labor force" hasn't grown at all. David Wessel on The News Hub looks at what's behind the drop and why you should care.

    Watch Video on Wall Street Journal
  • Bush and Clinton Team Up for 9/11 Memorial Fund-Raiser

    By Peter Baker, New York Times

    The odd-bedfellows tandem of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton got together again Tuesday night to promote their latest shared post-presidential cause, a memorial to the heroes of United Flight 93. The 42nd and 43rd presidents headlined a fund-raiser at the Newseum in Washington in hopes of bringing in enough money to honor the passengers who confronted hijackers and brought down their plane on Sept. 11, 2001, rather than let it be crashed into the nation’s capital.

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May 16, 2012

  • Why 2012 Is Reality TV at Nightfall, Not Morning in America

    By Beth Reinhard and Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    Two handsome presidential candidates have been displaced by hard-knock folks with unkempt beards and furrowed foreheads. These surrogates wear hooded sweatshirts and baseball caps. They gaze mournfully at vacant lots, chain-link fences, and snowy graveyards. This is not “Morning in America;" this is reality TV at nightfall.

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  • George W. Bush Endorses Mitt Romney

    By Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    As presidential endorsements go, this one could hardly have been more low-key. ABC News caught up with former president George W. Bush in an elevator in downtown Washington on Tuesday and asked the question that elicited the sound bite. “I’m for Mitt Romney,” Bush said, just as the doors slid shut.

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  • Geithner Sounds Warning Over Debt Ceiling

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    Speaking at the Peter G. Peterson Fiscal Summit in Washington, D.C., Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Congress needed to act smartly this time around on raising the debt ceiling.

    Watch Video on Wall Street Journal
  • High Stakes in Romney-Obama Battle over Bain, Economy

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    President Obama’s Chicago-based campaign team has been waiting months to launch a real attack against Mitt Romney’s experience at Bain Capital. Even before Romney’s Republican presidential rivals started going after him, Obama’s campaign was preparing for the moment that arrived this week.

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  • Boehner: No Debt Ceiling Increase Without Cuts

    By Susan Davis, USA TODAY

    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will not allow an increase in the debt ceiling to move through the House unless the amount of the increase includes an equal or greater amount of spending cuts. His pledge once again sets Congress on a collision course with Senate Democrats and the White House over what was once a routine vote to raise the federal debt ceiling, which allows the U.S. government to continue to pay its bills without the risk of default.

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  • Obama Has Up to $1 Million in JPMorgan Account

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    While the executive branch checks out JPMorgan Chase & Co., President Obama has been doing some checking of his own. One day after he described JPMorgan as "the best, or one of the best managed banks," the White House reported that the president holds up to $1 million in an interest-bearing JPMorgan asset management checking account, and Michelle Obama has up to $15,000 in a regular JPMorgan checking account.

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  • Bush Dips a Toe Back Into Washington

    By Peter Baker, New York Times

    In the three years since he left office, former President George W. Bush has largely stayed out of the political arena. He has spent his time mapping out his library, making speeches, hosting injured veterans for Texas bicycle rides and making clear how glad he is to be out of the nation’s capital.

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    Former President George W. Bush makes a rare appearance in Washington, DC (CNN)

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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