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!

Nov 29, 2012

  • Obama tilts tax debate away from spending cuts

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama surrounded himself with taxpayers on Wednesday to pitch his plan to preserve current rates for the middle class and raise them for the wealthy. A day before, he met with small-business owners for the same purpose. On Friday, he plans to fly to Pennsylvania to tour a factory to make the same point.

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  • ‘Fiscal cliff’ talks bogged down by dispute over cost of retirement programs

    By Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman

    Negotiations to avert the year-end “fiscal cliff” advanced at a glacial pace Wednesday, with a dispute over how to tackle the soaring cost of federal retirement programs emerging as the latest roadblock to progress.

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  • Holiday hysteria

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    If there is one redeeming feature of the otherwise gutless and indolent sequestration process, it is the underappreciated component of hysteria.

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  • The $4 trillion 'fiscal cliff' solution

    With Eamon Javers, CNBC

    Eamon Javers discusses how President Obama hopes that a fiscal cliff solution can be reached before Christmas.

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  • U.S. weighs bolder effort to intervene in Syria’s conflict

    By David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times

    The Obama administration, hoping that the conflict in Syria has reached a turning point, is considering deeper intervention to help push President Bashar al-Assad from power, according to government officials involved in the discussions.

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Nov 28, 2012

  • To strike fiscal deal, Obama turns to the public

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    President Obama isn’t anchored to a chair in the White House with House and Senate leaders, sweating out a budget deal before Dec. 31 -- not yet anyway. Instead, he’s spending the week meeting with business representatives and other stakeholders before flying Friday to a Pennsylvania toy factory for a photo op to champion middle-class tax breaks.

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  • Now touring, the debt duo, Simpson-Bowles

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    Theirs is an improbable buddy act that is making for unlikely entertainment from campuses to corporations on a most serious subject: the federal debt. The proof of their appeal: some business groups pay them $40,000 each per appearance. Really. To discuss budgets and baselines.

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  • Cliff notes: Would House Republicans actually vote for a "fiscal cliff" deal that would raise tax rates?

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    President Obama is adamant that he will only agree to a “fiscal cliff” solution that raises tax rates on those making over $250,000. The Republicans in the majority in the House of Representatives are adamant that they will not vote for those tax increases—Speaker John Boehner chief among them. I asked a senior House leadership aide the what chances were that Boehner would be able to get a majority of Republicans to vote for a tax increase of any kind: “pretty close to zero.”

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  • Filibuster fight adds drama to 'fiscal cliff' talks

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    A brewing side drama between the Senate's Democratic and Republican leaders is testing their relationship as the two navigate tough negotiations on the "fiscal cliff" coming at the end of the year.

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  • Jeb Bush talks education, but politics comes to mind

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    The former governor was passionate and persuasive as he opened his fifth annual education conference in Washington, D.C. He made a strong case for holding all students to the same academic standards as a way to bridge the nation’s growing income inequality gaps, seamlessly blending the concerns of liberals and conservatives, suburban moms and corporate executives. Among the hundreds of policy wonks in the audience were powerful political consultants and fundraisers chomping at the bit should he run for public office again.

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Nov 27, 2012

  • What do Americans want from a Fiscal-Cliff deal?

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Congress is back in session and working on a solution for the looming fiscal cliff crisis [Photo: CNN]

    With lawmakers getting down to business on a fiscal-cliff deal, interest groups are working overtime to tell the politicians what voters want them to do.

    This matters a lot, obviously; all else being equal, politicians are much more likely to take stands they believe to be political winners. But when it comes to concocting the perfect blend of tax hikes and spending cuts, what the people want is not perfectly clear.

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  • On ‘fiscal cliff,’ both sides lay groundwork for debate’s next phase

    By Lori Montgomery and Zachary A. Goldfarb, The Washington Post

    Private talks between President Obama and top congressional leaders in search of a deal to avoid the year-end “fiscal cliff” are accelerating, officials said Monday, even as the president began ramping up pressure on Republicans to extend tax cuts for the middle class.

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  • What happened to spending cuts?

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    Are we any closer to a tax and fiscal cliff fix? CNBC's own Chief Washington Correspondent John Harwood joins us now with all the details.

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  • Egypt’s President Morsi emerges victorious from confrontation with country’s judges

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    After days of protests, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi announced Monday that a sweeping decree issued last week that exempted his decisions from challenges in court will remain in effect on issues pertaining to “sovereign matters,” a result that some were calling a compromise but that appeared to be a sweeping victory for the Islamist president.

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  • 'Zero Dark Thirty': Bin Laden manhunt film based on controversial firsthand accounts: 'Nightline' exclusive

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    It was the greatest manhunt of all time, the stealthy nighttime raid by the elite SEAL Team Six on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, which led to the death of the world's most wanted terrorist leader.

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Nov 26, 2012

  • Automatic tax increases could stunt economy's growth in 2013

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    Americans could spend nearly $200 billion less next year on cars, clothes, furniture and other consumer products than they would otherwise if automatic tax increases take effect as currently scheduled, the White House warned in a report issued Monday morning.

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  • INFLUENCE GAME: Tax them, not us, groups say

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    A big coalition of business groups says there must be give-and-take in the negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff" of massive tax increases and spending cuts. But raising tax rates — a White House priority — is out of the question, the group adds.

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  • ‘Fiscal cliff’: Consensus on increasing tax revenue, a wide gulf on how to do it

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    For the first time in decades, a bipartisan consensus has emerged in Washington to raise taxes. But negotiators working to avert the year-end “fiscal cliff” remain far apart on crucial details, including how taxes should go up and who should pay more.

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  • Petraeus, the comeback general

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Gen. David H. Petraeus, long the most famous overachiever in the U.S. Army, is already on his way to a new career distinction: breaking the land speed record for rehabilitation from a scandal.

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Nov 21, 2012

  • Gaza’s grim prophecy

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    The Gaza crisis teeters between the momentum of violence and a cease-fire all sides desperately want but no one can easily stomach. Many lives tragically hang in that precarious balance, but the outcome does not. Israel enjoys such overwhelming military superiority over Hamas militants that a tactical victory has always been assured, as evidenced by the lopsided death toll to date of over 100 Palestinians killed to three Israelis. The only question from the outset of Israel’s launching of “Operation Pillar of Defense” in response to escalating rocket attacks from Gaza, was at what cost?

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