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 18, 2012

  • U.S. economic fears shift from Europe toward ‘fiscal cliff’

    By Michael A. Fletcher and Zachary A Goldfarb, The Washington Post

    The main threat to the economy is shifting from what others may do to us to what we are doing to ourselves. For much of the year, economists worried about the impact of the slowdown in Europe on the U.S. economy. Now, analysts say anxiety about the impact of the fast-approaching fiscal cliff — the series of federal spending cuts and tax hikes set to take effect at the beginning of 2013 if Congress and the Obama administration do not act — is displacing Europe as the primary threat to the nation’s sputtering economy.

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Jul 17, 2012

  • Obama Winning Ugly

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    If Barack Obama wins this election, he's going to win ugly. Job creation is anemic, voters think the country is going in the wrong direction, and the president has been unable to convince them otherwise. So, the path is clear: Destroy your opponent and pander to your base. Obama Wan Kenobi, it's your only hope. This has been obvious for months. It was clear, at the very least, from the president's campaign kick-off back in May.

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  • Obama and Romney Step Up Accusations on Jobs

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama and Mitt Romney escalated their running battle over capitalism, integrity and the economy on Monday as each sought to portray the other as part of the nation’s problem rather than its solution. At a freewheeling town-hall-style meeting with supporters here, Mr. Obama took aim at Mr. Romney’s corporate tax proposals, saying they would create jobs overseas rather than at home. Mr. Romney’s campaign accused Mr. Obama of “crony capitalism” by using government resources to reward donors at the expense of the middle class.

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  • Obama Campaign Continues Attack on Romney

    With Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg

    President Barack Obama's campaign stop in Cincinnati, Ohio and the campaigns continued attack on Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's record while at Bain Capital.

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  • Obama Ad Targets Romney’s Tax Returns

    By Laura Meckler, The Wall Street Journal

    The Obama campaign is working to keep alive the controversy over Republican rival Mitt Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of his personal income taxes. On Tuesday, it questions that decision in a new TV ad airing in the Pittsburgh market, where Mr. Romney will be campaigning. The ad, entitled “Makes You Wonder,” is a quick hit– expected to run for only a day—and the goal may be to generate free media attention as much as to move views of voters who see the spot.

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  • Drought in U.S. reaching levels not seen in 50 years, pushing up crop prices

    By Michael Fletcher and Peter Whoriskey, The Washington Post

    A drought gripping the Corn Belt and more than half the United States has reached proportions not seen in more than 50 years, the government reported Monday, jacking up crop prices and threatening to drive up the cost of food. Though agriculture is a small part of the U.S. economy, the shortfall comes as the nation struggles to regain its economic footing. Last week, the Agriculture Department declared more than 1,000 counties in 26 states as natural-disaster areas.

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Jul 16, 2012

  • Democrats threaten to go over ‘fiscal cliff’ if GOP fails to raise taxes

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    Democrats are making increasingly explicit threats about their willingness to let nearly $600 billion worth of tax hikes and spending cuts take effect in January unless Republicans drop their opposition to higher taxes for the nation’s wealthiest households. Emboldened by signs that GOP resistance to new taxes may be weakening, senior Democrats say they are prepared to weather a fiscal event that could plunge the nation back into recession if the new year arrives without an acceptable compromise.

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  • Obama to tout auto bailout, tax policies in Ohio

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    President Barack Obama is preparing to tell Ohio voters that Republican Mitt Romney's tax proposals would spur job growth in foreign countries including China. The president also plans Monday to highlight his administration's 2009 bailout of the auto industry, which saved thousands of jobs in Ohio, according to Democrats. Romney opposed Obama's use of massive federal loans to keep Chrysler and General Motors afloat while they reorganized under bankruptcy protection.

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  • In Pawlenty, Romney Campaign May Find Down-to-Earth Appeal

    By Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times

    It was four years ago this summer, when Tim Pawlenty ranked high on the list of John McCain’s potential running mates, and Mr. Pawlenty and his wife, Mary, were plowing through a voluminous questionnaire probing deep into their finances and almost every other aspect of their lives.

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  • Oops! I Did It Again

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    "Presidents cannot admit mistakes," a senior Bush administration official once told me. Admitting mistakes makes a president look weak, gives critics ammunition, leads to more questions, and sets a dangerous precedent for the next time everything doesn't go to plan. Once you've admitted a mistake, where do you stop? You definitely don't want to admit a mistake in an election year. So when Charlie Rose showed up at the White House asking the president what he thought his big mistake was, all that remained a mystery was how Obama would evade the question.

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  • Analysis: Rivals on left, right battle in Supreme Court

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    They are heavyweights in the ring that is the U.S. Supreme Court. These button-down, Ivy League-credentialed versions of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier represent Washington versus the states and the competing left-right ideologies behind that conflict. And the punches they throw - and take - while at the courtroom lectern have captured as much attention as their stances on the law.

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Jul 13, 2012

  • The Numbers Behind Obama's Negative Ad Campaign

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Looking for a little hope and change from President Obama’s reelection campaign? Give it up. The vast majority of the president’s television spending this week bashes Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, either over his business record, his position on abortion rights, or his tax plan. Since April, just over half—about $27 million out of $51 million—of Obama’s television spending has been on negative ads, according to a GOP media tracker. But his campaign has taken an overwhelmingly negative turn at a time when the economic recovery is stalling, and it buttresses what the Republicans have been saying for months: The president’s overall strategy is to ruin Romney’s reputation, leaving voters without a viable alternative.

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  • 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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