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!

Jul 10, 2012

  • Obama draws line in tax debate

    By Christi Parsons and Lisa Mascaro, Los Angeles Times

    By calling on Republicans to approve a one-year extension of tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 a year, President Obama escalated the election-year focus on taxes, emphasizing a key distinction between the two parties and seeking to create a mandate for a tax plan after the election.

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  • Obama's 'Class Warfare' Rhetoric

    With Eamon Javers, CNBC

    A discussion of President Obama's plans for taxation; and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (R); Jared Bernstein, former chief economist to VP Joe Biden; and Art Laffer, Laffer Investments, weigh in on the President's proposal.

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  • Obama Intensifies Tax Fight

    By Laura Meckler and Damian Paletta, The Wall Street Journal

    President Barack Obama proposed a one-year extension of Bush-era tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 a year but would let them rise for wealthier Americans, a move that both shifts the election debate to tax rates and sets the table for a showdown with Republicans in Congress.

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Jul 09, 2012

  • The Drone Zone

    By Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times

    Holloman Air Force Base, at the eastern edge of New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range, 200 miles south of Albuquerque, was once famous for the daredevil maneuvers of those who trained there. In 1954, Col. John Paul Stapp rode a rocket-propelled sled across the desert, reaching 632 miles per hour, in an attempt to figure out the maximum speed at which jet pilots could safely eject. He slammed on the brakes and was thrust forward with such force that he had to be hauled away on a stretcher, his eyes bleeding from burst capillaries. Six years later, Capt. Joseph Kittinger Jr., testing the height at which pilots could safely bail out, rode a helium-powered balloon up to 102,800 feet. He muttered, “Lord, take care of me now,” dropped for 13 minutes 45 seconds and broke the record for the highest parachute jump.

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  • Obama to Push Extension of Middle-Class Tax Cuts

    By Laura Meckler, The Wall Street Journal

    President Barack Obama will propose a one-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 today, an effort to shift the conversation away from the sagging economy and toward tax fairness. On Monday, Mr. Obama will appear in the East Room, surrounded by people who would benefit from the extension, an administration official said. It's another display of the power of incumbency, which lets a president command attention for his ideas in grand surroundings not available to his challenger.

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  • Candidates still speak out on health care

    With John Dickerson, CBS News

    On "Face the Nation," CBS News correspondents covering both Mitt Romney and President Obama's campaigns said that more than a week after the Supreme Court upheld the health care law, both campaigns are still talking about it.

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  • Democrats Renew Attacks on Romney's Money

    By Yochi Dreazen, National Journal

    The Obama campaign and its Democratic allies renewed their accusations that Mitt Romney hid portions of his vast wealth in complicated overseas tax shelters, with a senior campaign aide working to sharpen a line of attack that polls suggest is finding traction with undecided voters. Robert Gibbs, a top Obama campaign adviser, said on CNN’s State of the Union that Romney, during his time at Bain Capital, effectively shielded much of his wealth from American tax collectors by parking it in Bermuda.

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  • Joyful Libyans vote in post-Gadhafi era’s first election

    By Nancy Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    Overjoyed Libyans voted in their first election in decades Saturday, picking a parliament that will name the nation’s government and write a constitution, nearly a year after former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and his self-created state met their demise. In a nation that a year ago feared that Gadhafi would survive the uprising against him, every part of the election was celebrated as an achievement. Libyans cheered as they parked in front of the polling station, happily looked up which classroom they were to vote in and ululated as they stood in line. Some welled up with tears as they stood behind cardboard booths, cast their vote and dropped their ballots into the plastic bin.

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Jul 06, 2012

  • Obama Rallies Supporters, Touts Record in Ohio

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    President Obama spoke for 17 minutes in the broiling midday sun before he reached for a bottle of water, then thinking better of it, decided to mop his drenched face with napkins. A two-day campaign adventure by bus in July tested Obama's cool almost immediately. As a dragonfly darted near his head and a fired-up audience attempted to turn an outdoor speech near Toledo into a bona fide rally, Obama said he deserved credit for backing the Midwest’s struggling auto industry when it teetered in 2009. Mitt Romney, he added, wrote at the time that he would not have offered the government’s financial backing to the industry to help it restructure.

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  • Will Americans Ever Go Back to the Doctor?

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    WSJ's David Wessel checks in on Mean Street to look at why trends in health care spending by Americans matter.

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  • Stakes for Jobs Figures Rise as Voters’ Views Start to Solidify

    By Annie Lowrey and John Harwood, The New York Times

    Economists are slashing their already tepid growth forecasts. The unemployment rate seems stuck at around 8 percent. It is a tense time for the American economy. It is also the time that some experts believe the country’s undecided voters are beginning to cement their presidential picks.

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  • Report: Romney's June Take Exceeds $100 Million

    By National Journal Staff

    Thanks in part to a money surge following last week's Supreme Court ruling, Mitt Romney's campaign brought in more than $100 million in June -- far more than his $77 million haul in May, two Republican sources told CNN. The amount includes money raised by the campaign along with the Republican National Committee. Romney has concentrated on fundraising over the past month, holding events in California, Oregon, Washington, and Texas.

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  • Mitt Romney’s problem on the health-care mandate question

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    For a politician on vacation, Mitt Romney has managed to make a lot of news this week — in all the wrong ways. He might have been better off just competing in the Romney Olympics with his family rather than a verbal gymnastics event against his chief spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom.

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Jul 05, 2012

  • Obama Sticks With Outsourcing Attacks

    By Laura Meckler, The Wall Street Journal

    The Obama campaign is doubling down on its portrayal of Mitt Romney as an “outsourcing pioneer,” with a new TV ad and plans for continued focus on the issue through the summer. The new advertisement suggests that Mr. Romney supports moving jobs overseas while Mr. Obama wants to bring them back, though there is some debate over whether overseas expansions by companies controlled by Mr. Romney’s Bain Capital translated into lost American jobs.

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  • In four key swing states, voters are anxious, divided and debating big questions

    By Karen Tumulty, Jeremy Borden, T.W. Farnam, Michael laris and Rachel Weiner, The Washington Post

    Big national holidays are about celebrating common ideals and aspirations; national politics often turn on how those ideals and aspirations match up against the realities of daily life. So it may come as no surprise that the Fourth of July in an election year can be a time of dissonance, when pride and trepidation march side by side down Main Street.

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  • Obama Marks Fourth With New U.S. Citizens

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    President Obama for a fourth straight Fourth of July joined with military families to eat barbecue and watch fireworks from the White House lawn, but this year he also began the day with active-duty service members, presiding at a citizenship ceremony that made 25 of them new Americans.

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  • Who Offshored My Lemons?

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    There are two really important things to understand about the latest back-and-forth between President Obama and Mitt Romney over Bain Capital’s role in outsourcing U.S. jobs. First, the Romney camp’s defense in this case amounts to a distinction without a difference for displaced American workers who don’t much care if a company ships jobs overseas directly or just invests in people who show companies how to do the job-shipping.

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  • China's Central Bank Cuts Interest Rates

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    Jeannette Neumann and David Wessel discuss Chinese and European central banks cutting their interest rates, and Joel Schectman looks at NBC and Google's preparations to keep cyberattacks at bay during the Summer Olympics.

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Jul 03, 2012

  • At July lull, presidential race is close as ever

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    The presidential race is entering the sultry summer, a final lull before the sprint to Election Day, with President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney neck and neck and no sign that either can break away. As both candidates take a breather this week — Romney at his lakeside compound in New Hampshire and Obama at the Camp David presidential retreat — each sees problems he'd like to cure before Labor Day.

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  • You Say Tax, I Say Penalty

    by John Dickerson, Slate

    Things have gotten so bad for Chief Justice John Roberts that Mitt Romney would rather agree with Barack Obama. In the wake of the Affordable Care Act ruling, the Obama administration and the Mitt Romney campaign have agreed to define the same taxlike object not as a tax but as a penalty. This rare act of bipartisan agreement likely denies Romney a potent tax argument against the president, but that may be wise since the argument can be used against Romney, too.

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