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 03, 2012

  • Syria moves its chemical weapons, and U.S. and allies cautiously take note

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

    The Syrian military’s movement of chemical weapons in recent days has prompted the United States and several allies to repeat their warning to President Bashar al-Assad that he would be “held accountable” if his forces used the weapons against the rebels fighting his government.

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  • Egypt court, citing threats, cancels session on key issue in standoff with Morsi

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    Egypt’s highest court indefinitely postponed a highly anticipated ruling Sunday, leaving the nation’s upcoming referendum on the new constitution in a state of uncertainty and putting off for now a direct confrontation with President Mohammed Morsi over his claim of judicial immunity.

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  • Cabinet predictions for 2013

    By John Harwood, CNBC

    President Obama is likely to replace a large portion of his Cabinet for his second term, but will almost definitely replace all of the Big Three. At the State Department, Secretary Hillary Clinton has clearly signaled her intent to move on. At Treasury, Secretary Tim Geithner has done the same. And at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said he'd prefer to return home to California.

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Nov 30, 2012

  • Obama taking "fiscal cliff" fight to the public

    With Major Garrett, CBS News

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  • Obama makes fresh demands on ‘fiscal cliff’

    By Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane, The Washington Post

    President Obama offered Republicans a detailed plan Thursday for averting the year-end “fiscal cliff” that calls for $1.6 trillion in new taxes, $50 billion in fresh spending on the economy and an effective end to congressional control over the size of the national debt.

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  • GOP calls White House cliff offer a non-starter

    By Susan Davis and Aamer Madhani, USA Today

    House Speaker John Boehner flatly rejected a $4 trillion Obama administration plan to avoid going over the fiscal cliff that was presented by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in a private meeting Thursday.

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  • Charities fight to keep tax break on donations

    By Naftali Bendavid, Wall Street Journal

    In 2011, the nation's biggest charities swung into action to oppose President Barack Obama using limits on tax deductions to help pay for a jobs bill. Warning that such a move would hurt charitable giving, they prevailed, and Democrats looked elsewhere.

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  • Can Obama deliver on his education-to-jobs proposal?

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    President Obama is among the throng of public officials who tout education as the path to economic success. “Education was the gateway to opportunity for me. It was the gateway for Michelle. And now, more than ever, it is the gateway to a middle-class life,” he said at the Democratic National Convention in September.

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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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