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 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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  • Obama, showing support for Israel, gains new leverage over Netanyahu

    By Helene Cooper and Mark Landler

    In the fractious relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, the shoe may have just shifted to the other foot.

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  • For Obama and Clinton, their final tour in Asia as partners

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    They emerged from Air Force One together, side by side, smiling at the crowd waiting on the tarmac below. Then as they headed down the stairs, she held back just a little so that she would stay a step behind him. For President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, this week’s trip to Southeast Asia is to be their last foreign adventure together in office, an intriguing, sometimes awkward closing road show that is nostalgic over a partnership at an end yet hints at a future ripe with possibility.

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  • Number of veterans in Congress continues to decline

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    A decade of wars abroad has not reversed the decline in military veterans serving in the U.S. Congress. When the next session convenes in January, the two chambers will have the fewest number of veterans serving since World War II. It's a continuation of a nearly four-decade-long decline of veterans in office since the peak of their service in the years after the Vietnam War.

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  • Grover Norquist the has-been

    By Doyle McManus, the Los Angeles Times

    Grover Norquist is losing his grip. It once seemed as if Washington's most powerful anti-tax crusader had the Republican Party firmly in hand. Signing Norquist's public pledge not to raise taxes was almost mandatory in GOP politics. Nine of the 10 candidates initially vying for the Republican presidential nomination, including Mitt Romney, signed on, as did candidates for local, state and national office.

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Nov 20, 2012

  • Clinton to visit Middle East in move to defuse Gaza conflict

    By Peter Baker and Isabel Kershner, The New York Times

    President Obama sent Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Middle East on Tuesday to try to defuse the conflict in Gaza, the White House announced.

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  • 4 men in California arrested for plot to kill Americans overseas

    With Pierre Thomas, ABC News

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  • Abraham Lincoln, vote hunter

    By John Dickerson

    Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is so lush you feel like you’re watching it in a velvet chair. The dark parlors and White House meeting rooms are full of fire and cigar smoke. The Lincoln played by Daniel Day Lewis seems so familiar it reminds you of the first time you heard him, except of course you never have. But after my wife and I watched the film, her first reaction was to say this: “I kept thinking about health care.” She wasn’t talking about the gritty scene at an Army hospital. She was talking about the Affordable Care Act.

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Nov 19, 2012

  • Obama, in an emerging Myanmar, vows support

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama journeyed to this storied tropical outpost of pagodas and jungles on Monday to “extend the hand of friendship” as a land long tormented by repression and poverty begins to throw off military rule and emerge from decades of isolation.

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  • Fiscal cliff negotiators are facing high hurdles

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    It's entirely possible that lawmakers and the White House will reach a deal that staves off an avalanche of tax increases and deep cuts in government programs before a Jan. 1 deadline. To do so, however, they'll have to resolve deep political and fiscal disagreements that have stymied them time after time despite repeated promises to overcome them.

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  • AARP uses its power to oppose Social Security, Medicare benefit cuts for retirees

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

    AARP, the lobbying powerhouse for older Americans, last year made a dramatic concession. Amid a national debate over whether to overhaul Social Security, the group said for the first time it was open to cuts in benefits.The backlash from AARP members and liberal groups that oppose changes in the program was enormous — and this time around, as Washington debates how to tame the ballooning federal debt, AARP is flatly opposed to any benefit reductions for the nation’s retirees.

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