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!

Jun 19, 2012

  • The Rust Belt is Dead. Long Live the Rust Belt!

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    The road to the White House has long run through Midwestern and Northeastern states paved with "iron, coke, chromium steel," as Billy Joel sang when he memorialized Allentown, Pa., in his 1982 hit song of that name. Since 1960, no candidate has won a presidential election without capturing the Rust Belt's buckeyed heart in Ohio. Just ask George W. Bush, who would have been relegated to one term if not for the voters in Ohio's small towns and rural areas who lifted him to victory in 2004.

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  • Maine Candidate: Don't Assume Party Affiliation

    By Susan Davis, USA TODAY

    Angus King is running for the Senate on a campaign pledge to tell voters how he will vote right after they elect him in November. The independent candidate, a popular former governor, is the front-runner in the open race for the seat held by retiring GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe. He is running a campaign on a platform of changing Congress and resisting partisanship, which is complicated by the fact that senators must align with a party to receive committee assignments and determine control of the chamber. King won't say before Election Day whether he will align himself with Republicans or Democrats if he wins.

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Jun 18, 2012

  • On and Off the Romney Bus, Tryouts for a Spot on the Ticket

    By Jeff Zeleny and Ashley Parker, New York Times

    One of the most secretive rituals of the presidential race unfolded in plain sight over the weekend as Mitt Romney stood a few paces behind, watching and smiling, while a procession of prospective running mates delivered their best arguments against President Obama’s re-election.

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    Mitt Romney speaks to reporters outside of his campaign bus (CNN)

  • Obama’s New Approach: Bypassing Congress

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    There’s not much President Barack Obama can do to boost the economy in the next five months, and that alone might cost him the November election. But on a range of social issues, Obama is bypassing Congress and aggressively using his executive powers to make it easier for gays to marry, women to obtain birth control, and, now, young illegal immigrants to avoid deportation.

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  • Romney Knocks Obama’s Immigration Move but Struggles to Offer an Alternative Plan

    By Philip Rucker and Dan Balz, Washington Post

    Mitt Romney criticized President Obama’s decision to stop deporting some illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children as an election-year political move, but he repeatedly declined in an interview Sunday to lay out an alternative plan.

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  • Muslim Brotherhood Candidate Declares Victory in Egypt

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi claimed a narrow victory early Monday in Egypt's first free presidential election, hours after the ruling military council further expanded its control over the country by granting itself war powers, raising new questions about what authority the president would actually have.

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  • An Election Referendum or a Choice?

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Is November's presidential election a referendum on President Obama's record or a choice between two different approaches to government? How voters answer that question could well determine the outcome.

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Jun 15, 2012

  • Less Talk, More Stimulus

    By Deborah Solomon, Bloomberg News

    Anyone expecting bold new ideas to resuscitate the economy from President Barack Obama’s speech on Thursday probably came away disappointed. It’s not that Obama’s proposals -- a mix of tax credits for small businesses and clean energy, and spending on infrastructure and education -- are bad. It’s just that they’re shopworn and too timid to break the political stalemate in Washington. The Democratic president effectively showcased the differences between his vision and Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s plan for a rollback of regulation and $5 trillion in new tax cuts. Unfortunately, drawing these distinctions won’t do much for the U.S. economy; it’s stalling now.

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  • Obama to Order Immunity for Young Illegal Immigrants

    By Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama has ordered his administration to stop deporting young immigrants who came to the U.S. as young children and who do not pose a security threat, senior administration officials said this morning. Effective immediately, young immigrants who arrived before they turned 16 will be allowed to apply for work permits as long as they have no criminal history and meet a series of other criteria, officials said.

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  • Newly Confident Romney Entering Aggressive Phase

    By Sam Youngman and Steve Holland, 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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  • Obama Offers Vigorous Defense of his Presidency in Speech

    By Amy Gardner and Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    President Obama declared Thursday that he and Republican opponent Mitt Romney offer radically different, irreconcilable visions for how to lead the nation back to prosperity, saying it is up to voters to “break that stalemate.” The president’s 54-minute speech here, which at times had the ring of a State of the Union address, represented an effort to regain his footing and reframe his argument for reelection after two weeks of dismal economic and political news.

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  • Dickerson on Democratic Hand-Wringing and GOP Disconnect

    With John Dickerson, CBS News

    CBS News political director John Dickerson talks to Charlie Rose and Erica Hill about concern among Democrats over President Obama's messaging; also, the Romney campaign's focus on Obama's "private sector" gaffe.

    Watch Video on CBS News
  • In New Gambit, Obama Asks Voters to Break Washington Stalemate

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    The choice election that President Obama talks about is now moving, by his own rhetoric, closer to a referendum on his record in office. That’s but one unmistakable consequence of Obama’s repeated call for voters this November to “break the stalemate” in Washington by giving him another term in office. In his 54-minute speech in Cleveland, Obama once again called the election a choice. But he also said breaking the political and policy stalemate in Washington is all the election is about. Everything else, Obama said, is “just noise, just a distraction.”

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  • Egyptian Court Rulings Seen as Reversal of Last Year’s ‘Revolution’

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    With a pair of court rulings, forces aligned with fallen former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak succeeded Thursday in reversing many of what had been considered democratic gains that have taken place here in the 16 months since Mubarak was toppled from power. Critics denounced the developments as the equivalent of a coup.

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  • Obama Says Election Offers a Clear Choice on the Economy’s Long-Term Path

    By Helene Cooper and Michael Barbaro, New York Times

    Framing his re-election bid as a stark choice between government action to lift the middle class and a return to Republican economic policies that he said had caused a deep recession, President Obama on Thursday called the presidential decision facing Americans a clear-cut one that will determine the long-term trajectory of the economy.

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Jun 14, 2012

  • Second-Guessing President Obama

    By Alexander Burns and John F. Harris, Politico

    President Barack Obama has long made clear he doesn’t like the Washington echo chamber. And, lately, the Washington echo chamber doesn’t think much of him, either. A series of stubbed toes, so-so polls and sour headlines is serving to remind Obama’s re-election team of an iron law of politics: When your luck turns cold, everyone’s a critic.

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  • Battleground Ohio: Romney Hopes to Ride 2010 Wave

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    The office of Chase Ritenauer, the Democratic mayor of this north-central Ohio city, overlooks peacefully moored sailboats on Lake Erie—and a sewage treatment plant. So it goes for Ohio Democrats this election year: Some things look a lot better than others. Republican Mitt Romney, they admit, has a real chance of putting the state back into the GOP column after President Barack Obama's hard-fought win in 2008.

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  • Adding a Fresh Metaphor to a Familiar Campaign Message

    By Helene Cooper, New York Times

    Appearing before 500 cheering fans at a fund-raiser at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore on Tuesday, President Obama offered up a critique of his Republican opponents certain to strike a chord with anyone who had ever gotten stuck with the bill for an expensive restaurant.

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    (CNN, File Photo)

  • A Kinder, Gentler Jeb Bush

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Former Gov. Jeb Bush has been sounding downright squishy lately, decrying partisan backbiting and waxing poetic about compromise. He sighed that his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and former President Ronald Reagan would have a "hard time'' fitting into today's Republican Party because they were willing to seek consensus with Democrats. He scoffed at a congressional hearing that he never signed anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist's pledge because you don't "outsource your principles and convictions to other people.'' He lamented "hyperpartisan'' politicians in Washington and called the GOP "shortsighted.''

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  • All pain, No Gain in Southern Europe

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    From the American side of the Atlantic, the debate over Europe's economic future often sounds like a bloodless, mind-numbing discussion of currency zones, bank recapitalization and interest rates. But in countries with fragile economies like Spain and Italy, it takes on real-life urgency.

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