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 26, 2012

  • Senate passes bill to keep tax cuts for the middle class

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    The Senate on Wednesday narrowly approved a plan to preserve tax cuts for the middle class while letting them expire for the wealthy, a powerful if largely symbolic victory for Democrats who have been pushing to raise taxes on the rich for more than a decade. The measure is dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled House, where leaders are preparing to vote next week on their own plan to extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for households at every income level through 2013.

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  • The NRA has won

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Politicians haven't always been allergic to gun control, not even Republicans. In 1968, after the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and the Rev.Martin Luther King Jr., Congress — on a bipartisan vote — outlawed guns sales to felons and the mentally ill. In 1993, when Congress passed the Brady bill requiring background checks for gun purchasers, former President Reagan, who narrowly escaped assassination in 1981, was among its supporters. In 1994, when Congress passed a ban on assault weapons, 10 Republican senators supported the provision. And as recently as 2002, when Mitt Romney ran for governor of Massachusetts, he declared himself strongly in favor of "tough gun laws."

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  • Jeb to Keynote Convention Luncheon -- and More?

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    One of the many uncomfortable decisions surrounding the speaking lineup at the Republican nominating convention is how to juggle Florida Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Jeb Bush. Bush is a strong, bilingual speaker beloved by the Republican faithful and frequently mentioned as a future presidential candidate. Scott is not. But with the two former presidents with the Bush surname not coming to the convention, how can the party put the former governor on the stage and not the current executive?

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Jul 25, 2012

  • Mogul’s Latest Foray Courts Jews for the G.O.P.

    By Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times

    A Republican group backed by the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is starting a new effort in battleground states to win over Jewish voters who could be persuaded to turn away from President Obama and support Mitt Romney. The group, the Republican Jewish Coalition, plans to begin a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign in the coming weeks called “My Buyer’s Remorse,” targeting voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, aides said. The campaign uses testimonials from people who say they regret supporting Mr. Obama because of his economic policies and his posture toward Israel, in hopes of cutting into the wide advantage Democrats have held over Republicans among Jewish voters.

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  • Romney, speaking to VFW, slams Obama on leaks, planned defense budget cuts

    By Nia-Malika Henderson and Scott Wilson, The Washington Post

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney outlined Tuesday an assertive American nationalism that would guide his foreign policy, calling for a more aggressive posture in confronting the United States’ rivals and more consistency in dealing with its allies. Romney advisers had billed the half-hour speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention here as a major foreign policy address, one his campaign originally said he intended to give months ago. The presumptive GOP nominee has spoken little about foreign policy recently, but on Tuesday he did so sharply on an issue generally considered a strength of President Obama’s.

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  • New Obama Ads Were Filmed in the West Wing

    By Peter Baker and Michael Shear, The New York Times

    Two ads released in the last two days were filmed just a few feet from the Oval Office in the West Wing workplace of his chief of staff, an unusual — but not unprecedented — use of the official space of the White House for campaign purposes. Speaking directly to the camera in one ad, Mr. Obama urges voters to see the election as a big choice between competing visions for the country. The backdrop? The floral couch, rust-colored pillows and white mantel in the room that currently serves as Jack Lew’s office.

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  • Romney Adviser: Cut Entitlements to Spare Defense, Save Jobs

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    President Obama and Congress should spare defense from planned budget cuts by reducing entitlement spending instead, a campaign adviser to Gov. Mitt Romney said on Tuesday, arguing that defense has a greater impact on jobs than spending on social programs. “If you want to reduce the impact of government cuts on creating jobs, you should be looking more at entitlements” than military spending, John Lehman – an investment banker, a former secretary of the Navy under President Reagan, and a special adviser and co-chair of Romney’s Defense Working Group – said in an interview.

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  • NBC-WSJ Poll Shows Obama with Slight Lead

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    A recent poll shows how much the economy is playing into the presidential election. CNBC's John Harwood breaks down the results of a recent poll.

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Jul 24, 2012

  • President Criticizes Romney Over Foreign Policy

    By Helene Cooper and Richard A. Oppel Jr., The New York Times

    President Obama directed a sharp assault on Mitt Romney’s foreign policy credentials on Monday, as the weekend political truce that followed the shooting rampage in Colorado dissolved into the more familiar political punch and counterpunch. In a speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention here, during which he never once mentioned Mr. Romney by name, Mr. Obama nonetheless directly took on the latest salvo from the Romney camp — Mr. Romney’s recent assertion that America under Mr. Obama is in decline.

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  • Obama announces Transition GPS effort in Nevada as he courts military families

    By Amy Gardner and Nia-Malika Henderson, The Washington Post

    President Obama, resuming a three-day swing up the West Coast after pausing to visit victims of the deadly shooting in Colorado, turned on Monday to military families as he announced a new effort to help service members transition back to civilian life. Republican Mitt Romney returned to the campaign trail as well, calling once more for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act at a business roundtable in Costa Mesa — but refraining from harshly criticizing the president.

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  • Shooting Disrupts Political Campaigns

    With Laura Meckler, The Wall Street Journal

    Politics came to a pause Friday as tragedy in Colorado trumped the partisan attacks that have come to define the political discourse. President Obama said "Such violence, such evil is senseless. It's beyond reason," Laura Meckler has details on Lunch Break.

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  • How Aurora, Colo., Shooting Suspect Bought Ammo

    With Pierre Thomas, ABC News

    James Holmes easily purchased ammunition online.

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  • How Obama Defies Gravity

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Nevada should be a state Barack Obama has no chance of winning. In an election about the state of the economy, no state has been harder hit. The unemployment rate is 11.6 percent, the highest in the nation. Sixty-one percent of the homes are worth less than the mortgage on them, also the highest in the nation. Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert, but everyone there is underwater. Still, Barack Obama has a shot in Nevada. He won Nevada by 12 points in 2008 and an average of polls right now shows the president ahead by 5 points (and perhaps more if you believe pollsters underestimate the Hispanic vote). Analysts in both parties say the state is the president’s to lose. Nevada is the most acute example of the key political dynamic in this election: The weight of a bad economy should sink the incumbent, but a combination of fortunate demographics and superior organization in the battleground states might rescue him in the end.

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Jul 23, 2012

  • Why Are Entitlements Growing? Your Budget Questions Answered.

    By David Wessel, The Wall Street Journal

    QUESTION: I did wonder if it was a little misleading to cite the 46% who paid no taxes in 2011 without putting this figure in context. Wasn’t this an abnormally high number last year because of the recession and because the government was intentionally trying to stimulate the economy? Isn’t the normal rate closer to 1/3? Not great, but not half. –Robert Fletcher

    ANSWER: Using 2011 as a snapshot has its shortcomings, as you suggest. It was not a normal year. Taxes, in general, were lower; spending, in general, was higher. The fraction of Americans who have been exempted from the income (though not the payroll tax) is higher in bad times because more people have low or no income. There are three reasons so many people don’t pay income taxes (although many of them do pay payroll taxes): (1) Their incomes are low, (2) They’re retirees whose Social Security benefits aren’t taxed, (3) The big way the federal government fights poverty is to give tax breaks to low-wage workers and families with children (and, through the Earned Income Tax Credit, actually gives cash to low-wage workers.)

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  • After Colorado shootings, Romney cautiously returns to campaign trail

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gingerly returned to the presidential race on Sunday, telling a San Francisco fundraiser that he would not be "as partisan." Addressing donors at roughly the same time President Barack Obama was speaking after meeting with survivors of last week's shooting spree in Colorado, Romney sought to focus his remarks on the state of the economy and not Obama's handling of it.

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  • On Display in Aurora, the Obama Ammunition Economy

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    Two of the hottest-selling items in Tom Lewis’ gun shop are a once-banned model of semiautomatic rifle and a series of palm-sized pistols easily stowed in a purse or coat pocket. Together, they represent a firearms industry on a tear, soaring while the rest of the country struggles through an anemic recovery. President Obama – or more specifically, gun owners’ fear of some still-phantom anti-gun agenda from his administration – has helped drive the industry’s gains.

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  • Military marchers wear uniforms in gay pride parade

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Last week, the Defense Department gave a one-time exception to a longstanding policy that bars military troops from wearing uniforms in public, non-partisan parades. Conflicting decisions by military commanders who got requests from subordinates to wear uniforms in public apparently prompted the Pentagon to review its policy, and a July 19 ruling allowed troops to wear their uniforms, but only for the San Diego LGBT Pride parade.

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  • Colo. Shooting Suspect Booby-Trapped Apartment

    With Pierre Thomas, ABC News

    The alleged shooter's apartment was rigged to explode if somebody entered.

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Jul 20, 2012

  • Officials name alleged gunman in Colorado theater shooting

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    The masked gunman who killed at least 12 people at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie in a suburb of Denver was allegedly a 24-year-old man named James Holmes, officials told NBC News on Friday.

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  • More News Reports Show Up in Campaign Ads, to Journalists’ Chagrin

    By John Harwood, The New York Times

    While hiking the Appalachian Trail the other day, I became part of a Republican campaign attack on President Obama. Save the Mark Sanford jokes; I was (really) chaperoning a church youth group. Only after returning did I learn that my prevacation reporting about second-quarter job growth on CNBC had led off a television ad assailing Mr. Obama’s economic record.

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