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 13, 2012

  • High Hurdles

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    The air conditioning at the Firehook Bakery near Farragut Square in Washington is barely keeping up with the 100-degree temperature outside. Pamela O’Leary and Mwende Katwiwa find a private table in back. Katwiwa readies her notebook and pen, while O’Leary sips her coffee. “What are the main differences between Washington, D.C., and other places you’ve worked?” Katwiwa asks.

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  • Medicaid expansion a tough sell to governors of both parties

    By Karen Tumulty and N.C. Aizenman, The Washington Post

    While the resistance of Republican governors has dominated the debate over the health-care law following last month’s Supreme Court decision to uphold it, a number of Democratic governors are also quietly voicing concerns about a key provision to expand coverage. At least seven Democratic governors have been noncommittal about their willingness to go along with expanding their states’ Medicaid programs, the chief means by which the law would extend coverage to millions of Americans with incomes below or near the poverty line.

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  • Obama Says He Needs to Tell ‘Story’ Better.

    By Laura Meckler, The Wall Street Journal

    President Barack Obama has said before that his biggest mistakes were not the policy choices he made, but how his White House communicated about them. In an interview with CBS News Thursday, he repeated that thought, adding that he needed to be more inspiring. “The mistake of my first term – couple of years – was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right,” he told interviewer Charlie Rose. “And that’s important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times.”

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  • Candidates Racing for Future, Gaze Fixed Firmly on the Past

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama’s re-election slogan is “Forward.” But the campaigns he and Mitt Romney are waging these days might be more accurately described as “Backward.” At a time when the country faces an uncertain future economically and internationally, the conversation in the capital and on the campaign trail has dwelled largely on the past as the two contenders for the White House and their allies spend their time and energy relitigating old fights rather than focusing on new ideas for the next four years.

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Jul 12, 2012

  • House votes to repeal health care law

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    The House of Representatives voted 244-185 Wednesday to repeal in full President Obama's health care law in a symbolic display of opposition to the law after the Supreme Court's decision to uphold it. Five Democrats sided with Republicans, who were unanimous in support of repeal. It was the 33rd vote to repeal the law or eliminate funding for its provisions since Republicans took control of the chamber last year.

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  • The U.S. Housing Bust Is Over

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    The U.S. finally has moved beyond attention-grabbing predictions from housing "experts" that housing is bottoming. The numbers are now convincing, according to David Wessel on The News Hub.

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  • Newly confident Romney entering aggressive phase

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    A space of only five minutes revealed a lot about the aggressive new phase an increasingly confident Mitt Romney is entering. In a poke at President Barack Obama, the Republican challenger timed a speech in Ohio on the economy to begin just minutes before his Democratic rival gave a major address on the same topic in the same battleground state.

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  • Conservatives Push Romney to Deliver Counterpunch

    By Jeff Zeleny and Ashley Parker, The New York Times

    Mitt Romney and his team of advisers built a reputation during the Republican primaries as tough street fighters skilled in the tactics of political warfare. They quietly took pride in tearing apart Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and the rest of their rivals. The aggressive posture ultimately became one of Mr. Romney’s selling points, particularly among conservative voters who were searching for the candidate tenacious enough to take out President Obama in the general election.

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  • Why Romney Welcomes the Boos

    by John Dickerson, Slate

    Mitt Romney was booed. It was a good day for Mitt Romney. When the Republican nominee told the NAACP that he was committed to eliminating Obamacare, audience members shouted out. The negative reception might have been momentarily jarring to the candidate, but the moment had a political upside. It offered a chance for a candidate criticized for his malleability to look principled in the face of opposition. That might not have mattered to the audience in the auditorium, but as Romney advisers explain, this speech was not just aimed at the people sitting in their seats or African American voters in general. Like Romney's contentious visit to the largely African-American school in West Philadelphia weeks ago, this speech was aimed at rounding out Romney's image. “I believe that if you understood who I truly am in my heart, and if it were possible to fully communicate what I believe is in the real, enduring best interest of African-American families, you would vote for me for president,” he said.

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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.

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  • 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?

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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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