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 02, 2012

  • Washington Mulls Over Health Care Act

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    CNBC's John Harwood reports Congress and the nation have a full week to digest the Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act.

    Watch and Read more
  • Obama's victory is now his challenge

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    "In my first term, we passed healthcare reform," President Obama joked this spring. "In my second term, I guess I'll pass it again." Thanks to the Supreme Court, Obama can take that item off his agenda. But Chief JusticeJohn G. Roberts Jr.guaranteed Thursday that healthcare will still be at the center of this year's presidential race.

    Read more
  • Fresh Skirmishes Over ‘Obamacare’

    By Naftali Bendavid, The Wall Street Journal

    The parties’ back-and-forth continued Monday following the Supreme Court’s health care decision. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which coordinates the Democrats’ House campaigns, is launching automated and live phone calls in the districts of 10 Republicans who support repealing the law, charging them with looking out for insurance companies rather than ordinary people. Repeal would allow insurers to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, “throw some kids of their parents’ insurance,” and take other damaging actions, the calls say.

    Read more

Jun 29, 2012

  • Did Obama Just Get His Mojo Back?

    by John Dickerson, Slate

    President Obama's campaign team can come up from the root cellar. The summer health care tornado did not land. The Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, protecting the president's signature legislative achievement. The decision was authored by conservative darling Chief Justice John Roberts, suggesting that, politically at least, this seal of approval was affixed by Betty Crocker herself. If the law had been struck down in whole or in large parts, it would have endorsed Mitt Romney's claim that President Obama committed a double sin: He wasted the precious start of his presidency on a wrong-headed scheme while ignoring a weak economy. But what now? Just because the Supreme Court upheld the law doesn't mean the legislation is popular. The president avoided a big defeat, but Mitt Romney's conservative base is energized. The net result is that it was a good day politically for the president, but it's a small net.

    Read more
  • Analysis: Why Roberts saved Obama's healthcare law

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    In the end, it all came down to Chief Justice John Roberts, the sphinx in the center chair, who in a stunning decision wove together competing rationales to uphold President Barack Obama's healthcare plan. Roberts' action instantly upended the conventional wisdom that he would vote with his four fellow conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court and undercut the agenda of a Democratic president, who as a senator in 2005 had opposed Roberts' appointment to the bench.

    Read more
  • Health Care Ruling

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    The blockbuster decision was one of the court’s most important rulings in decades. Opponents of the law had said Congress’ power to regulate commerce didn’t extend to people who choose not to buy something, something that the court’s conservatives agreed with. Justice John Roberts did decide, however, that the law was a legitimate use of the congressional power to tax.

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    view at
  • Obama's Big Political Win Sets Stage for More Battles

    By Naftali Bendavid and Carol E. Lee, The Wall Street Journal

    President Barack Obama won a monumental legal victory Thursday when the Supreme Court upheld the vast majority of his health-care law, but the fight for public opinion—and votes in November—showed signs of growing more heated. President Barack Obama won a monumental legal victory Thursday when the Supreme Court upheld the vast majority of his health-care law, but the fight for public opinion—and votes in November—showed signs of growing more heated.

    Read more
  • Health-care ruling motivates Romney supporters

    By Karen Tumulty and Nia-Malika Henderson, The Washington Post

    If conservatives needed any more motivation to unseat President Obama, they got it Thursday from the Supreme Court, which provided fresh political opportunities for Mitt Romney even as it handed the president a legal victory.

    Read more

Jun 27, 2012

  • Senate Leaders Reach Student-Loan Deal

    By Naftali Bendavid and Corey Boles, The Wall Street Journal

    Senate leaders said Tuesday they had reached a tentative deal to keep most student-loan interest rates at 3.4% for another year, preventing the rates from doubling on Sunday and potentially resolving a contentious election-year issue.

    Read more
  • Mitt Romney says he would lead on immigration, he just won’t say how

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    Mitt Romney has had a lot to say about immigration over the past few days, but what he has said adds up to a giant question mark. Rarely has a presidential candidate had as many opportunities to clarify or recalibrate his position on a vital issue, and rarely has a candidate passed up those opportunities as consistently as the former governor.

    Read more
  • The immigration ruling: a hint on healthcare?

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    The Supreme Court's decision in the Arizona immigration case on Monday showed a conciliatory streak within a divided court that could emerge again when the justices issue their climactic healthcare decision on Thursday. What the Arizona compromise will augur for the most closely watched case of the term is anyone's guess. Yet the justices' evident search for common ground in the immigration ruling and a few other cases this term could portend a healthcare decision that does not predictably cleave along political lines.

    Read more
  • Evasive Maneuvers: Mitt Romney doesn’t want to say anything, specifically.

    by John Dickerson, Slate

    Mitt Romney has a problem with specifics. Since Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin, a growing number of Republicans have been calling for something more from him. His recent responses on questions from tax reform to immigration have been thin or nonexistent. When reporters tried to get an answer about the candidate’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Arizona’s immigration law, his spokesperson was so evasive, my colleagues might want to plant a mulberry bush in the press section to make the next round of the game more lively. Usually you have to win the White House before you can be that skilled at ducking and weaving.

    Read more
  • Obama Campaign Banks on High-Tech Ground Game to Reach Voters

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    A cheer erupted at about 8 on a June evening as a woman scrawled with red marker on paper taped to the wall: the small group in a storefront Obama campaign office in this Mayberry-like southern Ohio town had exceeded the night’s goal of calling 700 voters with an hour to go, despite time out for a pep talk from a surprise visitor, former Gov. Ted Strickland.

    Read more

Jun 26, 2012

  • Analysis: What takes so long? Behind the scenes at Supreme Court

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    During a break from the crush of last-minute opinion-writing, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told an audience of 1,000 people this month at a Washington legal convention: "It is flood season at the court." For the rest of the country it had been more like a drought, a stretch of weeks without any word in the most closely watched cases - the blockbuster challenges to President Barack Obama's healthcare plan and Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigration.

    Read more
  • Narrow win for Arizona immigration law

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    Watch on
  • On the Campaign Trail, Obama and Romney React to the Justices’ Decision

    By Helene Cooper and Trip Gabriel, The New York Times

    The Supreme Court’s decision on Arizona’s strict immigration law gave President Obama another shot at energizing Latino voters, while Mitt Romney defended states’ aggressive efforts to fight illegal immigration. For Mr. Obama, both parts of the court’s split decision — striking down most of the law while letting stand the most controversial provision, which critics have dubbed “show me your papers” — have the potential to encourage get-out-the-vote efforts. He appealed to voters worried about racial profiling, given that the provision of the law the court let stand requires police offers to check for proof of legal residence.

    Read more
  • Analysis: Court hampers Romney's plea to Hispanics

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Mitt Romney wants to improve his troubled standing among Hispanic voters while saying as little as possible about immigration. Events keep working against him. The Supreme Court's ruling Monday on Arizona's immigration law, coming 10 days after President Barack Obama's announcement that allows some illegal immigrants to stay in the country, is the latest instance. Romney's cautious comments on the court decision underscored his discomfort with a topic that squeezes him between conflicting goals.

    Read more
  • Issa Letter Hammers Obama on Operation 'Fast and Furious'

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    The chairman of the House oversight committee investigating White House involvement in the botched “gun-walking” program that led to the 2010 death of U.S. Border Patrol agent accused President Obama on Monday of downplaying his involvement in the program or intentionally obstructing the Congress' inquiry.

    Read more

Jun 25, 2012

  • BIS Official Warns of Central-Bank Overreach

    By David Wessel, The Wall Street Journal

    Jaime Caruana, general manager of the Bank for International Settlements and former governor of the Bank of Spain, warned Sunday that the recent aggressiveness of the world’s central banks may be creating “unrealistic expectations” about their power to “resolve the fundamental problems that hold back sustainable growth” and argued that more central bank action poses unwelcome risks.

    Read more
  • The Cornerstone

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Florida’s Hillsborough County, the site of this summer’s GOP convention, voted for Bush twice and then flipped to Obama. Winning here in 2012 might hold the key to the entire election.