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!

Mar 22, 2012

  • Republicans Want Romney to Close the Deal

    By Naureen Khan and Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Hoisting his newest trophies — a landslide win in Illinois and an endorsement from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — Mitt Romney came to this Baltimore suburb on Wednesday for a victory lap aimed at bringing the marathon Republican primary to a close. The rout in the Midwest, followed hours later by the blessing from one of the GOP’s most respected figures, amplified calls by the Romney campaign and its allies for his flagging rivals to bow out.
    Read More from National Journal

Mar 21, 2012

  • Democrats Attack Ryan Budget Plan, Again

    By Laura Meckler, Wall Street Journal

    A year ago, Democrats made political mincemeat of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, attacking it for its cuts in Medicare and other programs. They’re hoping Mr. Ryan’s new plan will provide similar political damage. In a statement Tuesday, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said the plan “once again fails the test of balance, fairness and shared responsibility.”
    Read More

    House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), center, introduces the GOP budget with Republican House Members (CNN)

  • Mitt Romney Cleans up in Illinois

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Illinois primary day was a laundry day for Mitt Romney. He washed his shirt in the sink and then took Rick Santorum to the cleaners. The former Massachusetts governor beat his closest rival handily, 47 percent to 35 percent. It was the first no-caveat, everyone-is-watching, takes-place-in-a-location-you've-heard-of contest that Romney has dominated since his victory in Florida two months ago.
    Read More

  • Afghan War Hearing Passes Fireworks-Free

    By Yochi J. Dreazen, National Journal

    A U.S. soldier stands accused of massacring 16 Afghan civilians, the worst such attack in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently responded by describing the U.S. as a "demon" and demanding a faster U.S. withdrawal. Here at home, domestic support for the war has plunged to new lows, with Republicans as well as Democrats telling pollsters that the conflict is not worth its cost and that American troops should come home sooner than is currently planned.
    Read More from National Journal

  • Santorum’s Blunt Talk is Proving Troublesome

    By Karen Tumulty and Nia-Malika Henderson, Washington Post

    In getting this far, Rick Santorum has achieved what no one — with the possible exception of himself — would have thought was possible four months ago. But the very qualities that made him a contender are turning into problems, as he is more frequently being tripped up by saying what is on his mind and by sometimes-errant tactical instincts.
    Read More

  • Romney Scores Big Win over Santorum in Illinois

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Republican Mitt Romney cruised to an easy victory over top rival Rick Santorum in Illinois on Tuesday, moving him one step closer to clinching the party's volatile battle for the presidential nomination. Romney's comfortable win gave him a fresh burst of momentum in the White House campaign and new ammunition for his argument that it is time for Republicans to rally around his campaign and end an increasingly bitter nominating battle.
    Read More

Mar 20, 2012

  • GOP Budget Plan Cuts Deeply into Domestic Programs, Reshapes Medicare, Medicaid

    By Rosalind S. Helderman and Lori Montgomery, Washington Post

    House Republicans laid down a bold but risky election-year marker Tuesday, unveiling a budget proposal that aims to tame the national debt by reshaping Medicare and cutting deeply into Medicaid, food stamps and other programs for the poor, while reshuffling the tax code to sharply lower rates.
    Read More

  • Why Rick Santorum and David Axelrod Agree About Mitt Romney

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    On the eve of the Illinois primary, Rick Santorum looked deep into the heart of Mitt Romney and came up empty. "He doesn't have a core," Santorum said on CBS's This Morning. “He’s been on both sides of almost every single issue in the past 10 years.” Does that sound familiar? If you wonder where you've heard that before, it came from President Obama's top strategist David Axelrod, who first said Romney lacked a “core” last October. It was then repeated by David Plouffe, a senior adviser to Obama who ran his 2008 campaign.
    Read More

  • On Primary’s Eve, Romney Cuts to General Election

    By Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg, New York Times

    Republican voters have yet to give Mitt Romney a green light to begin a formal campaign against President Obama, so Mr. Romney paid a visit to the president’s old neighborhood here on Monday for yet another audition to show he is tough enough to win the general election.
    Read More

  • GOP Candidates Face Illinois Primary Today

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    CNBC's John Harwood has the story on whether there will be a brokered Republican convention.

    Watch Video on CNBC

  • Obama Heading West to Counter His Energy Critics

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    President Obama this week will wend his way through Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Ohio to explain why he has little power to lower gasoline prices, and why he has a long-term energy strategy that he believes can reduce the effects of pump price fluctuations in the long term. When would the president's strategy pay off? The benefits of Obama's approach are ongoing, the White House said Monday, even if gasoline prices keep rising because of global market activity out of the president’s control.
    Read More

  • Romney Aims for Illinois Win to Widen Republican Lead

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Front-runner Mitt Romney appears poised to widen his lead in the Republican presidential race with a victory on Tuesday in Illinois, where polls show he has a comfortable edge over top rival Rick Santorum. Romney hopes a solid win in Illinois will give him a fresh burst of momentum in the volatile White House campaign and add urgency to calls for Republicans to rally around the former Massachusetts governor and end an increasingly bitter nominating battle.
    Read More

    Mitt Romney in Peoria, IL (CNN)

Mar 19, 2012

  • Pentagon Finds Perils for U.S. if Israel Were to Strike Iran

    By Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker, New York Times

    A classified war game held this month to assess the American military’s capabilities to respond to an Israeli attack on Iran forecast that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to American officials.
    Read More

  • Illinois Next Crucial Stop in GOP Race

    With John Dickerson, CBS News

    The Republican presidential hopefuls continue to stump for support. CBS News political director John Dickerson talked about delegate math with "CBS This Morning: Saturday" co-host Rebecca Jarvis, ahead of Tuesday's key contest in Illinois.

    Watch Video

  • Sanctions' Squeeze On Iran Tightens

    By Tom Gjelten, NPR

    The squeeze on the Iranian economy due to international sanctions is turning into a stranglehold. The latest sign of Iran's economic trouble is a new drop in the country's oil output. And last week brought a new punishment: Iranian banks were barred from participating in a key international clearinghouse.
    Listen to story

  • Santorum-Romney Battle Reveals Stark Divide in the GOP

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    The big, cheering crowd in the school gymnasium here Friday night spoke to the distance Rick Santorum has traveled since those lonely days when his candidacy was dismissed as a hopeless exercise. It spoke also to the divide that now defines the Republican presidential campaign.
    Read More

    Mitt Romney on the Campaign Trail (CNN)

  • War And Semantics

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    In the last week alone, Americans have been told definitively that “Afghanistan is ready right now to take all security responsibilities completely” (Afghan President Hamid Karzai); that Afghans will take “full responsibility for security in 2014” (President Barack Obama); that the U.S. and its allies will shift to a support role next year and “won’t be in a combat role after 2014” (British Prime Minister David Cameron); and that U.S. officials are negotiating a “strategic partnership” agreement to allow U.S. troops to continue both supporting Afghan forces and conducting counter-insurgency “night raids” well beyond 2014.
    Read more from National Journal

  • Mitt Romney Wins Puerto Rico

    With John Harwood, CNBC.

    CNBC's John Harwood has the story on Mitt Romney's delegate lead, and what he needs to do to stop Rick Santorum's momentum.

    Watch Video on CNBC

Mar 16, 2012

  • Unmired at Last

    By Greg Ip, The Economist

    Since Florida’s property market collapsed and its economy tanked, Hillsborough County has endured almost nonstop austerity. In the past five years the government of the county, halfway up the state’s Gulf coast, has eliminated a quarter of its 6,000 positions through attrition and lay-offs. It has scaled back after-school child care. Workers’ pay has been frozen for three years.
    Read More

  • Obama Says There's No 'Silver Bullet' on Gas Prices

    By Christi Parsons and Neela Banerjee, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama launched a fiery defense of his energy policy Thursday amid growing pressure to stem rising gasoline prices, perhaps by releasing oil from the nation's emergency petroleum reserve. Obama avoided mentioning the Strategic Petroleum Reserve option, but acknowledged the pain Americans feel at the pump and mocked Republicans for "acting like 'We've got a magic wand and we will give you cheap gas forever.' "
    Read More