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!

Dec 07, 2012

  • US Supreme Court To Take Up Same-Sex Marriage Issue

    By Pete Williams, NBC News

    The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to take its first serious look at the issue of gay marriage, granting review of California's ban on same-sex marriage and of a federal law that defines marriage as only the legal union of a man and a woman.

    At the very least, the court will look at this question: When states choose to permit the marriages of same-sex couples, can the federal government refuse to recognize their validity? But by also taking up the California case, the court could get to the more fundamental question of whether the states must permit marriages by gay people in the first place.

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  • McConnell Takes Hard Line

    By Naftali Bendavid, Wall Street Journal

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has found shrewd ways to solve some of Washington's most intractable budget standoffs. In the current battle, the Kentucky Republican is taking a notably tougher tone, leading colleagues to wonder about his role as the debate unfolds.

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  • The Military Knows It Has A Morality Problem

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    It has not been a good year for America’s armed forces. David Petraeus’s extramarital affair dominated headlines; 25 instructors are under investigation for systematic sexual abuse of cadets at Lackland Air Force Base; and a rash of senior officers—at the rank of colonel or higher—have been reprimanded for serious misconduct. Last month, Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote to all four-star generals and flag officers asking for institutional soul-searching. Has the military’s behavior, he seemed to be asking, threatened the “sacred trust” among top officers, the men and women they lead, and the American people? “I know you share my concern when events occur that call that trust into question,” Dempsey wrote in the memo obtained by National Journal. “We must be alert to even the perception that our Nation’s most senior officers have lost their way.”

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  • Hillary Clinton's Exit Plan For Syria's Assad

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    Secretary of state urges end of President Bashar Assad's reign amid worry of chemical warfare.

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  • ANALYSIS: Senate's First African American Republican Tea Party Member?

    By Amy Walter, Elizabeth Hartfield and Chris Good, ABC News

    The announcement that Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) was resigning at the beginning of 2013, gave political junkies - and plenty of SC politicians - an unexpected early Christmas gift.

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  • In Talks on a Budget Deal, Boehner and Obama Stand Alone

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    At House Speaker John A. Boehner’s request, Senate leaders and Representative Nancy Pelosi have been excluded from talks to avert a fiscal crisis, leaving it to Mr. Boehner and President Obama alone to find a deal, Congressional aides say.

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Dec 06, 2012

  • Some In GOP Urge Lawmakers To Back Tax Hikes For Changes In Safety-Net Programs

    By Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman, Washington Post

    A growing chorus of Republicans is urging House leaders to abandon their staunch opposition to higher tax rates for the wealthy with the aim of clearing the way for a broad deal that would also rein in the cost of federal health and retirement programs.

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  • Syria civil war: Fears of chemical weapon use

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

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  • What should the U.S. learn from Europe's woes?

    By Tom Gjelten, NPR

    As President Obama and Capitol Hill lawmakers assess the need for spending cuts and tax increases against the risk of triggering a new recession, they might look across the Atlantic for insights from those who have already grappled with those budgetary questions.

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  • U.S.-approved arms for Libya rebels fell into Jihadis’ hands

    By James Risen, Mark Mazzetti and Michael S. Schmidt, The New York Times

    The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants, according to United States officials and foreign diplomats.

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  • Hispanic campaign donors look for new ways to flex their political muscle

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    They are an unlikely trio, these relative newcomers to the world of major-league political fundraising: a Hollywood actress who gained fame as a desperate housewife, a Texan who grew up walking picket lines with his labor-organizer father and a Harvard-educated lawyer from Puerto Rico.

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  • The secrets of the 2012 campaign

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    You’ve probably moved on from the 2012 presidential election. It’s clear that the Republican Party is trying to. Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio both gave high-profile speeches Tuesday in which they showed they had learned the lessons of Mitt Romney’s loss. “Both parties tend to divide Americans into ‘our voters’ and ‘their voters,’ ” said Ryan, sounding a little bit like Barack Obama circa 2008 and nothing like Mitt Romney, who was secretly recorded telling donors that 47 percent of the country wouldn’t vote for him because they considered themselves victims. “Republicans must steer far clear of that trap.” Sen. Rubio spoke at the same dinner as Ryan. Rubio mentioned the middle class 34 times in his half-hour speech, which may qualify him for a special badge of some sort.

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Dec 05, 2012

  • Tax deduction limits may trim deficits, but not easily

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    Behind President Obama’s insistence that tax rates must rise on higher incomes is a belief that Republicans cannot raise as much revenue as they claim, $800 billion in the first decade, simply by limiting deductions and loopholes. Yet in the past, Mr. Obama supported that option to collect even more.

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  • Obama: Budget deal will unleash the economy

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    “I think America is poised to take off,” President Obama said Tuesday, dangling what many business leaders and economists agree is the real prize tucked inside any credible deficit pact enacted in Washington by year’s end.

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  • GOP deficit plan irks conservatives

    By Naftali Bendavid and Carole E. Lee, Wall Street Journal

    Conservatives on Tuesday took aim at House Speaker John Boehner's deficit-reduction proposal in the fiscal cliff talks, a dispute that was aggravated by Mr. Boehner's decision to remove some conservatives from prized committees.

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  • The physics of the year-end Fiscal-Cliff negotiations

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    On the PBS NewsHour, Erskine Bowles, cochairman of the noted deficit-reduction commission he led with Republican former Sen. Alan Simpson, said that Washington’s overdramatized fiscal-cliff negotiations amount to little more than “Kabuki theater.”

    Read more from National Journal
  • White House to ask for $50 billion in hurricane relief aid

    By Peter Baker and Raymond Hernandez, The New York Times

    President Obama plans to ask Congress for about $50 billion in emergency spending to help rebuild the states ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, according to administration and Congressional officials briefed on the discussions.

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  • ANALYSIS: A sneak-peek at 2016

    By Amy Walter and Michael Falcone, ABC News

    Hardly a month has passed since the end of campaign 2012, but last night campaign 2016 seemed almost in sight.

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Dec 04, 2012

  • GOP makes counteroffer in cliff talks

    By Janet Hook, Carol E. Lee and Damian Paletta, Wall Street Journal

    House Republicans on Monday made a fresh deficit-reduction proposal to the White House that calls for $800 billion in increased tax revenue, half of what President Barack Obama has proposed.

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  • Democratic group to offer tax plan with huge payoff

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    Democratic luminaries with ties to the Obama and Clinton administrations, including two former Treasury secretaries and two former White House chiefs of staff, on Tuesday will enter the tax debate with an overhaul plan that would raise an additional $1.8 trillion in the first decade.

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