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 20, 2012

  • The Most Consequential Candidates of 2012 Show the Art of Politics Is Interpretive

    By Reid Wilson, National Journal's Hotline

    Early next year, a Democrat will be sworn in as governor of red Montana. A Democrat will take her Senate seat in red North Dakota. Republican governors will gear up for reelection bids in blue Michigan and Wisconsin. They all won in spite of unfavorable political landscapes because candidates, and their campaigns, matter. A strong campaign and a sharp candidate can overcome long odds, while a weak campaign can wilt even with the wind at its back.

    Read more

Dec 19, 2012

  • Benghazi Attack Report: Security 'Grossly Inadequate'

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    The report on the terrorist attack that killed Ambassador Stevens is critical of protection measures.

    Watch more
  • Obama Facing Critical Choice After Shooting

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    For President Obama, the massacre of schoolchildren in Connecticut has upended standard political calculations and has presented a choice that goes to the heart of his approach to governance, not just on guns but also on issues like climate change, immigration and even taxes.

    Read more
  • After Newtown, Will Obama Take Cue From Clinton?

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    More than 14 years ago, President Clinton told a roomful of interested parties at the White House, “We have to help schools recognize the early warning signs of violence and to respond to violence when it does strike.”

    Read more
  • Boehner’s Backup Tax Plan Shakes Up ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Negotiations

    By Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane, The Washington Post

    House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) veered off the bipartisan course he had been charting toward a broad tax-and-entitlement deal with President Obama and instead Tuesday pushed a GOP package to extend tax cuts for income up to $1 million.

    Read more
  • Could a Deal on the “Fiscal Cliff” Be Worthy of Spielberg?

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    “This is not Spielberg’s Lincoln, OK? You’re not going to pick these guys off one at a time,” Republican Rep. Tom Cole said to me in a recent conversation about fiscal-cliff negotiations between President Obama and Republicans. “We have one negotiator. His name is John Boehner.” President Lincoln passed the 13th Amendment by siphoning off enough Democrats to win passage. Cole says Obama can’t do the same thing with today’s House Republicans. Any deal that passes the House will do so with the majority of Republican support. “If he comes back and tells us, ‘This is a deal, I think it’s the best deal I can get, it’s an acceptable deal for the American people,’—the support will be there.”

    Read more

Dec 18, 2012

  • Long-Time Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye Dies at 88

    With Naftali Bendavid, Wall Street Journal

    Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii died Monday evening in Washington, D.C., after suffering respiratory failure. WSJ's Naftali Bendavid looks back at Sen. Inouye's life that spanned the WWII battlefields to almost nine consecutive terms in the U.S. Senate.

    Watch more
  • Obama Makes A Substantial Counteroffer On Fiscal Deadline

    By Christi Parsons and Lisa Mascaro, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama trimmed his demand for tax increases on the wealthy Monday, making a substantial counteroffer as he and House Speaker John A. Boehner reconvened privately at the White House.

    Read more
  • How Much to Tax the Rich? It's in the Cards

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    As the high-stakes showdown over the fiscal cliff continues, Republicans and Democrats continue to debate how much the richest Americans should pay in taxes. WSJ's David Wessel heads to a poker table to explain the controversial issue.

    Watch more
  • Obama Now Has Freedom to Push on Gun Control

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    President Obama offered his boldest statements to date on gun control on Sunday evening in Newtown, Conn. Always a supporter, never a doer on this particular topic, Obama has the freedom now to push a little bit harder on an issue that evenly divides the country.

    Read more
  • After Tragedy, Partisanship May Cool a Bit

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    To the extent that Americans have diverted their attention since Friday from the horror in Connecticut toward their capital, it has been to wonder whether the school shooting would provoke the first serious gun control debate in years. But the tragedy could have an impact on another crucial legislative issue: the contest over taxes and spending.

    Read more
  • In Sign of Normalization, Pentagon to Reimburse Pakistan $688 Million

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

    The Pentagon quietly notified Congress this month that it would reimburse Pakistan nearly $700 million for the cost of stationing 140,000 troops on the border with Afghanistan, an effort to normalize support for the Pakistani military after nearly two years of crises and mutual retaliation.

    Read more

Dec 17, 2012

  • Tim Scott to Be Named for South Carolina Senate Seat, Republicans Say

    By Jeff Zeleny and Jennifer Steinhauer, The New York Times

    Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina has chosen Representative Tim Scott to replace Jim DeMint in the United States Senate, according to three Republican officials. The move will make Mr. Scott the first black senator from the South since the late 19th century.

    Read more
  • ‘These Tragedies Must End,’ Obama Says

    By Peter Baker and Mark Landler, The New York Times

    President Obama vowed on Sunday to “use whatever power this office holds” to stop massacres like the slaughter at the school here that shocked the nation, hinting at a fresh effort to curb the spread of guns as he declared that there was no “excuse for inaction.”

    Read more
  • Americans Tried to Buy 2 Million Guns in November Alone

    By Pierre Thomas, ABC News

    The awful shooting in a small Connecticut town has raised disturbing questions, but has also placed a spotlight on America's thriving gun business.

    Read more
  • Boehner Offers Debt-Ceiling Increase In Cliff Compromise

    By Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane, The Washington Post

    House Speaker John A. Boehner has offered to push any fight over the federal debt limit off for a year, a concession that would deprive Republicans of leverage in the budget battle but is breathing new life into stalled talks over the year-end “fiscal cliff.”

    Read more
  • Fault Lines Also Appearing On Democratic Side In Fiscal Debate

    By Christi Parsons, Michael A. Memoli and Kathleen Hennessey, Los Angeles Times

    For weeks, Democrats in Congress have been relishing the division and sniping within Republican ranks over whether to raise tax rates. But as negotiations over the budget crisis wear on and shift to a debate over spending cuts, the tables are turning.

    Read more
  • The GOP's Electoral College Scheme

    By Reid Wilson, National Journal's Hotline

    Republicans alarmed at the apparent challenges they face in winning the White House are preparing an all-out assault on the Electoral College system in critical states, an initiative that would significantly ease the party's path to the Oval Office.

    Read more from National Journal

Dec 14, 2012

  • Stopping Gun Violence Starts With Obama

    By Reid Wilson, Hotline

    This morning, children – young children – were killed in their elementary school by a gunman in quiet, suburban Connecticut. Three days ago, holiday shoppers were killed in a mall in suburban Portland. Two weeks ago, an NFL linebacker murdered his girlfriend and then killed himself at his team’s stadium.

    Read more
  • Rice’s Blunt Style Endeared Her to President, but Not All

    By David E. Sanger, The New York Times

    For President Obama, the decision to forgo the fight to make Susan E. Rice his secretary of state was a deeply painful one. It required publicly abandoning one of his most loyal aides, who had broken with the Democratic foreign policy establishment early to side with his improbable candidacy, and whose blunt-speaking style — which helped cost her the job — had always been, for Mr. Obama, a part of her appeal.

    Read more