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 11, 2012

  • Obama hoping to continue love affair with Iowa

    By Dan Balz and Amy Gardner, The Washington Post

    Four years ago, Iowa launched President Obama toward the White House, and it has been a special place for him ever since. But he returned here Tuesday as an embattled incumbent trying to rally supporters to turn back a stiff challenge from Mitt Romney. Republicans are surprisingly bullish about their candidate’s chances in a state where Obama has deep roots and where the unemployment rate is well below the national average.

    Read more
  • Guerrilla Tactics in 'War on Women' Attacks

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    When it comes to waging the "war on women'' attack on Republican nominee Mitt Romney, the Obama campaign is pushing the envelope. A new ad airing in Virginia -- ground zero for the WOW -- and other states says Romney wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. That's true. But it also says that he "backed a law that outlaws all abortion, even in cases of rape and incest." What law was that?

    Read more from National Journal
  • In 2009, Americans paid lowest tax rates in 30 years to federal government

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    Americans paid the lowest tax rates in 30 years to the federal government in 2009, in part because of tax cuts President Obama sought to combat the Great Recession, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday. A sharp decline in income — especially among the wealthiest Americans, who pay the highest tax rates — also played a role, according to the report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    Read more
  • Tax Reform: Why It’s So Hard

    By David Wessel, The Wall Street Journal

    Tax-rate lowering, tax-base broadening tax reform is popular in principle, but difficult in practice. A new exercise by the number-crunching wonks at the non-partisan Tax Policy Center shows why. Under current tax policy – pretend the Bush tax cuts don’t expire at year-end — federal revenues would be about $2.9 trillion, of which $1.4 trillion would come from the individual income tax.

    Read more
  • George P. Bush Says G.O.P. Needs ‘Honest Solution’ on Immigration

    By Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times

    George P. Bush said on Tuesday that “it’s never too late” for Mitt Romney to take a leadership role in the immigration debate, but he acknowledged Republicans were outflanked by President Obama’s election-year decision to allow hundreds of illegal immigrants to remain in the country without fear of deportation.

    Read more

Jul 10, 2012

  • President Obama, Mitt Romney deadlocked in race, poll finds

    By Dan Balz and Jon Cohen, The Washington Post

    A pair of tepid jobs reports, landmark Supreme Court decisions on health-care and immigration laws, and an unprecedented barrage of negative ads have shaped the opening months of the fall presidential campaign. The impact on the horse race: virtually none. According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney remain in a deadlocked contest, tied at 47 percent among registered voters and basically where they stood in late May.

    Read more
  • Obama Picks Election-Year Tax Fight With GOP

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    President Obama barreled closer to Washington's "fiscal cliff" Monday, eager to challenge Republicans to jettison the tax cuts for the wealthy enacted during the Bush administration and extended again in 2010. As Obama tried to engineer a political fault line with Republicans over taxes, the president discovered that members of his own party believe $1 million should be the threshold below which Americans are labeled "middle class" for purposes of continuing the breaks, not $250,000 a year, which is the cutoff in current law.

    Read more
  • 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.

    Read more
  • 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.

    View and Read More
  • 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.

    Read more

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.

    Read more
  • 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.

    Read more
  • 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.

    View and Read more
  • 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.

    Read more
  • 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.

    Read more

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.

    Read more
  • 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.

    View and Read More
  • 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.

    Read more
  • 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.

    Read more from National Journal
  • 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.

    Read more