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!

Oct 25, 2011

  • Rick Perry moves to recharge campaign with flat-tax plan and new hires

    By Perry Bacon Jr. and Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    Welcome to Rick Perry 2.0.   The Republican Texas governor is retooling his presidential campaign, shuffling staff and touting a bold but controversial new tax plan, hoping to rebound from a recent plunge in the polls.

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  • Obama's New Refi Plan

    By Eamon Javers, CNBC

    President Obama travels to Las Vegas, one of the hardest hit housing markets in the country, to unveil his new home refinancing program.

    Watch the report
  • Wars Wind Down, But Some Forces Face Wearying Future

    By Yochi J. Dreazen, National Journal

    Army Ranger Kristoffer Domeij was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday while on his 14th combat deployment, highlighting a dispiriting fact of life for some of America’s warriors: conventional forces are leaving Iraq and Afghanistan in large numbers, but the sky-high demand for special-operations troops like the Rangers won’t be changing anytime soon.

    Read more in the National Journal

Oct 24, 2011

  • Events Erode Hope of Tax Overhaul Before Election Day

    by John Harwood, The New York Times

    Even in good times, tax reform poses steep political challenges. And these aren’t exactly good times.That helps explain the angst among advocates of revamping the tax code as they have watched events erode their hopes of near-term success on Capitol Hill.

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  • Obama's foreign successes may help little in 2012

    by Charles Babington, Associated Press

    By declaring the Iraq war over, President Barack Obama scored what his allies see as a fourth big foreign policy success in six months, starting with Osama bin Laden's killing.

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  • In Colorado, voter anger clouds 2012 choices

    by Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    By almost every electoral scenario, the road to the White House in 2012 will run directly through Colorado and a handful of other Rocky Mountain states. Right now, neither President Obama, who will visit here early this week, nor the Republicans who debated in Las Vegas last week should feel confident about their prospects in this pivotal region.

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  • Clinton defends troop withdrawal from Iraq

    by Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday that the U.S. will maintain a strong military interest in Iraq, after its last combat troops leave this year, and she warned Iran not to try and take advantage of the pullout.

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  • Clinton defends troop withdrawal from Iraq

    by Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    With his jobs plan stymied in Congress by Republican opposition, President Obama on Monday will begin a series of executive-branch actions to confront housing, education and other economic problems over the coming months, heralded by a new mantra: “We can’t wait” for lawmakers to act.

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  • McManus: Mosque and State

    by Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    At a conference two years ago, I sat in on a meeting between U.S. officials and young Islamist politicians from Tunisia, Jordan and other countries in the Middle East. The Islamists wanted to know: Would the Americans allow them to run in free elections, even if it meant they might come to power? The Americans turned the question back at them: Would the Islamists, if they won, allow free and democratic elections, even if it might mean losing power?

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  • Panetta's Pentagon, Without the Blank Check

    by Peter Baker, The New York Times

    Tan and ruddy-faced, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta took his seat in a hearing room one morning this month ready for battle. The enemy, he warned lawmakers ominously, was “a blind, mindless” one that could “badly damage our capabilities” and “truly devastate our national defense.”

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Oct 21, 2011

  • Mitt Woos Iowa

    by John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Iowa is a dusty place this time of year. Billows rise up from the combines in the field as the corn is harvested. Your eyes get scratchy. But no dust sticks to Mitt Romney. He is the stainless-steel candidate: precise, technically flawless, and lacking warmth. "I love this country," he said at the end of his town hall at Morningside College Thursday morning. "I hope I made that clear. I didn’t say that as directly as I’d like to: I love America.” Yes, he was sincere, and, yes, the delivery was synthetic.

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  • The End of an Affair

    by Yochi J. Dreazen, National Journal

    The death of former Libyan ruler Muammar el-Qaddafi allows the Obama administration to claim credit for ending a war it never wanted to fight. The White House wavered for weeks before it reluctantly joined the NATO campaign. It deployed far fewer aides to Libya than its allies, pledged much less money, and was the last major allied power to recognize the interim government. But the White House has a simple reason for celebrating—and slightly exaggerating—its role in ousting Qaddafi: American power is on the wane throughout the Middle East, and Libya is a rare success story.

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  • Rick Perry's flat tax plan is a political gamble

    by Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry's call for a flat income tax rate will tie his Republican presidential campaign to a contentious issue that excites many conservatives but has repeatedly failed to win the embrace of mainstream America.

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  • Illegal immigrant attack on Mitt Romney persists

    by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, POLITICO

    It’s hard to dispute that Rick Perry's he-hired-an-illegal-immigrant attack on Mitt Romney was a cheap shot.  It’s even harder to dispute that it worked beautifully.

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  • The Next Flat Tax Plan

    by John Harwood, CNBC

    Texas Governor Rick Perry plans to unveil his flat tax plan next week.  John Harwood previews the plan.

    Watch video
  • Untangling the Long-Term-Unemployment Crisis

    by David Wessel, The Wall Street Journal

    Herman Cain, the Republican presidential candidate, avoids carefully calibrated talking points. "If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself," he said in a Wall Street Journal interview.

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  • Eurozone Debt Crisis Divides France, Germany

    by Tom Gjelten, NPR

    European efforts to resolve its debt crisis stand in disarray. France and Germany are divided over how to finance bailout programs for Greece and other highly indebted countries. The question is who will back down first.

    Listen to the story
  • Top Lawmakers Push Debt Panel to Wrap Up

    by Janet Hook, The Wall Street Journal

    Senate and House leaders are becoming more directly involved with the supercommittee responsible for delivering a sizable deficit-reduction plan by Thanksgiving, amid growing concern the panel's members could be deadlocked.

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Oct 20, 2011

  • Rick Perry called Herman Cain “brother.” Why?

    By Nia-Malika Henderson, Washington Post

    When Rick Perry, who has been dogged by allegations of racial insensitivity because of a hunting camp his family leased, called Herman Cain, the only black person on the Las Vegas debate stage Tuesday night “brother,” he raised a racial antennae among some viewers.

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  • Supercommittee’s lack of progress on debt reduction raises alarms on Hill

    By Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane, Washington Post

    With a Thanksgiving deadline fast approaching, a powerful congressional panel devoted to debt reduction is running in rhetorical circles, unable to break the impasse over taxes that has long blocked aggressive action to tame the national debt.

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