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!

Apr 02, 2012

  • In Wisconsin, Romney Nears the Tipping Point

    By Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg, New York Times

    Mitt Romney is on the cusp of taking firm control of the Republican nominating contest for the first time, neutralizing his most powerful critics and rallying a broad spectrum of conservatives behind him as party leaders grow increasingly eager to take on President Obama.
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  • Santorum Vows to Stay in Race

    By Philip Rucker and Dan Balz, Washington Post

    Rick Santorum insisted Sunday that he would remain in the Republican presidential race for the long haul, defying mounting pressure from party elders to coalesce around front-runner Mitt Romney and focus on the fall contest against President Obama. Santorum vowed to stay in the race until it is clear that the former Massachusetts governor has secured the 1,144 delegates required for the nomination, something that is unlikely until just about the end of the primaries in June.
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    Rick Santorum in Pewaukee, WI (CNN)

  • Obama Postpones Many Issues Until Elections

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Missile defense isn't the only area in which President Barack Obama will have "more flexibility" if he's re-elected. Immigration, the Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, gay marriage, tax policy and other issues could invite bold initiatives by a president who knows he will never run for office again, especially if his party gains ground in congressional elections.
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  • Santorum Faces Brutal April, Slim Hope for May

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    For Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, it is shaping up to be a cold and lonely spring. Trailing Mitt Romney in the polls, the conservative former senator is pinning his slim hopes on surviving difficult primary votes in April that favor his rival, and then trying to recover in May when the calendar looks better for him.
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  • Why Ron Paul Draws Big Crowds but Fails to Catch on

    By Nia-Malika Henderson, Washington Post

    At first glance, Benjamin Stolz would appear to be the perfect prize for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. Stolz, a freshman at the University of Maryland, agrees wholeheartedly with Paul on a range of issues — from seeing foreign intervention as too costly to agreeing that government spending should be cut. Stolz, an enthusiastic 18-year-old who has never voted, also admires Paul’s frankness and the Texas congressman’s ability to draw diverse crowds.
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Mar 30, 2012

  • Chief Justice Roberts May Cast Deciding Healthcare Vote

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    During three days of historic healthcare arguments at the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts presided with a steady calm and folksy charm. From his center seat on the nine-member bench, Roberts gently mediated as colleagues interrupted one another's questions this week.
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  • Senate Thwarts Obama Bid to End Oil/Gas Subsidies

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    President Obama and the Democratic majority in the Senate tried Thursday to use tax benefits enjoyed by oil and gas companies as a partisan weapon against the sting of rising gasoline prices. It didn’t quite work -- the Senate, with help from four Democrats, defeated a procedural measure aimed at ending the tax benefits -- but the president and his congressional allies argued with gusto that big oil companies and the Republicans who support them are hurting American consumers.
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  • Labor Pains

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Mitt Romney should be good to go, ready to pivot toward the general election—and there would be no better place to start than Tuesday’s primary in Wisconsin. The state hasn’t voted for a Republican nominee since Ronald Reagan, but close elections in 2000 and 2004 branded it a battleground. Two years after President Obama solidly won the state with 56 percent of the vote, Republicans staged a comeback by winning the Governor’s Mansion, a Senate seat, and two House seats. In Wisconsin, moderates—and cheese-heads—rule.
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    House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., endorsed Mitt Romney this week (CNN, file photo)

  • Poll: Senate Democrats Lead in Florida, Ohio

    By Janet Hook, Wall Street Journal

    Propelled by strong support among women in two swing states, Senate Democrats in Ohio and Florida are sitting on wide leads over their Republican challengers, according to a pair of Quinnipiac University polls that bodes well for Democratic efforts to keep their Senate majority.
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  • On Health Care, are Republicans Ready for Victory?

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    Three days of oral arguments at the Supreme Court have given Republicans reason for optimism that President Obama’s health-care law could be heading for a legal defeat in a few months. But would such a victory for the GOP this summer mean political success for the party in November and beyond?
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Mar 29, 2012

  • Reeling White House Steps Into Health Care Breach

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    The Obama White House, beset by a barrage of liberal criticism over an allegedly inept defense of its signature domestic policy achievement, on Wednesday defended the health care law's constitutionality not on legal grounds but on purely partisan ones. “The individual-responsibility provision was originally a Republican idea,” said White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest at the daily briefing, altering the common terminology “individual mandate” to the theoretically more politically palatable “individual responsibility.”
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  • Obama Lawyer Asks Supreme Court to Save Healthcare Law

    By Joan Biskupic and James Vicini, Reuters

    The Obama administration's top courtroom lawyer made an impassioned plea on Wednesday for the Supreme Court to save President Barack Obama's healthcare law, capping three days of historic arguments that left it unclear how the nine justices would rule. Having peppered lawyers for and against the law with questions for more than six hours over the three days, the justices withdrew to their chambers to begin up to three months of deliberation expected to yield a decision by late June.
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  • Clock Ticks on U.S.'s Fiscal Time Bomb

    By David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    Pundits and pollsters speculate hourly on the outcome of the next Republican presidential primary. Business executives and investors increasingly focus on whether Congress and the president will defuse the fiscal time bomb they have built—or whether they will be so paralyzed that the bomb will go off at year-end.
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  • Can Health Care Law Survive Without Insurance Mandate?

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    Watch Video on NBC News

  • Parties Brace for Fallout in Court’s Ruling on Health Care

    By Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

    The law professor side of President Obama is highly intrigued by the Supreme Court hearings over the constitutionality of his health care law. He studied a summary of the arguments aboard Air Force One as he flew back from a nuclear summit meeting in South Korea. The political side of the president may need to draw upon his judicial patience as he awaits a ruling that will help shape the final stages of the presidential race.
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Mar 28, 2012

  • US top court struggles with entire healthcare law's fate

    By Joan Biskupic and James Vicini, Reuters

    The U.S. Supreme Court struggled on Wednesday with what to do about President Barack Obama's entire healthcare overhaul should the nine justices hold the insurance requirement underpinning the law is invalid under the U.S. Constitution.

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  • Supreme Court Weighs All-or-nothing on Healthcare Law

    By Joan Biskupic and James Vicini, Reuters

    The Supreme Court opened its final day weighing the fate of President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, considering on Wednesday whether the entire law can stand should the court rule against its centerpiece mandate that most people buy insurance.
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    Former presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks out against the health reform law in Washington, DC (CNN)

  • Newt Gingrich Scales Back Campaign

    By Nia-Malika Henderson and Aaron Blake, Washington Post

    Newt Gingrich, who once led the Republican presidential field only to see his standing diminished after a string of losses, will reduce his campaign schedule and lay off a third of his staff in a strategy shift that underscores his fading chances of claiming the party’s nomination. The former House speaker has already replaced his top aide, Michael Krull, with Vince Haley, who had been deputy campaign manager and a policy adviser.
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  • House Panel Seeks Regulations, Reviews in Trayvon's Death

    By Susan Davis, USA TODAY

    Congress should investigate gun laws, the lack of regulations on local neighborhood watch groups and the social status of black men and boys, a group of House Democrats said Tuesday at a forum spurred by the shooting last month of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida. Trayvon Martin's parents were at the Capitol Hill panel, which also debated racial profiling, hate crimes and "Stand Your Ground" self-defense laws.
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  • Justices Skeptical of Health Care Law

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    Watch Video on NBC News