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 14, 2012

  • Behind Closed Doors

    By Todd S. Purdum, Vanity Fair

    The most encouraging news in Washington in ages was the word that Barack Obama and John Boehner were talking—by themselves, and to each other—about how to avoid the series of automatic tax increases and spending cuts that could send the country over the so-called fiscal cliff. Boehner went to see the president at the White House last Sunday for their first solo meeting since the November election.

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  • With Gap Wide and Time Short, Obama and Boehner Meet

    By Jackie Calmes and Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times

    With time running short to work out a deal to avert a year-end fiscal crisis, President Obama called Speaker John A. Boehner to the White House on Thursday evening to try to move talks forward even as pessimism mounted that a broad deal could be struck that bridges the substantial gap between the parties on taxes and entitlements like Medicare.

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  • States Face Double Fiscal Whammy: Federal Aid Cuts and Spiraling Health-Care Costs

    By Michael A. Fletcher, Washington Post

    Just as state governments are healing from the deep fiscal wound inflicted by the Great Recession, they are confronted by the dual threat of reduced federal help and ever increasing health-care costs, according to a new report.

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  • Syrian President Bashar Assad's Regime Near Collapse

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    Martha Raddatz looks at the latest developments in Syria.

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  • What North Korea's Rocket Launch Tells Us About Iran's Role

    By Tom Gjelten, NPR

    U.S. officials say the satellite put into orbit by North Korea's rocket launch this week is wobbling, but that doesn't necessarily mean the launch itself was unsuccessful.

    U.S. analysts say the North Koreans' main goal was not to put a satellite into orbit, but just to see all three stages of their rocket work, to show that the rocket could carry its payload a long distance. That it did. In the last test, in April, the first rocket stages worked as designed, but the third stage failed. Charles Vick, a missile expert at GlobalSecurity.org, credits the North Koreans with learning from their past mistakes.

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Dec 13, 2012

  • Poll Results: Who's to Blame For 'Fiscal Cliff?'

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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  • Is U.S. Budget Deficit Shrinking Too Fast?

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    With all the high-profile haggling over tax increases and spending cuts to avert the fiscal cliff, is it possible the federal budget deficit is shrinking too fast? David Wessel explores that jarring question on The News Hub.

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  • North Korea Launches Successful Long-Range Missile

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    Martha Raddatz discusses the reaction to Kim Jong Un's rocket demonstration.

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  • After Rocket Launching, a Call for New Sanctions

    By David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, The New York Times

    The United States and its Asian allies began an effort on Wednesday to impose additional sanctions on North Korea after its largely successful rocket launching, but this time Washington added a warning to China: Failure to rein in Kim Jong-un, the North’s new leader, will result in an even greater American military presence in the Pacific.

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  • A Taxonomy of Republican Hopefuls

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Mitt Romney has gone from being the face of the Republican Party to being just another face in the crowd—at the gas station, at the pizza joint, and ringside at a boxing match. The party is looking for somebody new, and the tryouts are already well under way.

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Dec 12, 2012

  • North Koreans Launch Rocket in Defiant Act

    By David E. Sanger and Choe Sang-Hun, The New York Times

    North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Wednesday morning that appeared to reach as far as the Philippines, an apparent success for the country’s young and untested new leader, Kim Jong-un, and a step toward the nation’s goal of mastering the technology needed to build an intercontinental ballistic missile.

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  • Michigan Enacts Right-to-Work Law, Dealing Blow to Unions

    By Michael A. Fletcher and Sean Sullivan, Washington Post

    Michigan enacted far-reaching legislation Tuesday that threatens to cripple the power of organized labor in a state that was a hub of union might during the heyday of the nation’s industrial dominance.

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  • The Zen of the Fiscal Cliff

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    If you are distracted by the holidays and not paying attention to every twist and turn of the fiscal cliff drama, the guidelines we set up several weeks ago still apply. Until House Republicans say they support a tax rate hike, you can ignore the noise and go about your life.

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  • As Fiscal Talks Heat Up, Questions on Whether Boehner Can Get the Votes

    By Jackie Calmes and Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times

    With negotiations quickening on Tuesday to prevent a year-end fiscal crisis, White House officials once again are confronting a vexing question: Can Speaker John A. Boehner deliver enough Republican votes for whatever deficit-reduction plan he and President Obama might decide?

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  • Will it be Clinton? Cuomo? Warren?

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Shortly after the 1988 presidential election, pollsters asked Democrats whom they favored to be their party's nominee in 1992. The strongest candidates were Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York. The governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, didn't even register.

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Dec 11, 2012

  • Obama Takes Push For Higher Taxes On Wealthy To Workers At Michigan Plant

    By Lori Montgomery and Philip Rucker, Washington Post

    President Obama hit the campaign trail again on Monday — more than a month after the election — firing up a crowd of blue-collar automotive workers with calls to raise taxes on the wealthy and eagerly wading into a local political dispute over the powers of labor unions.

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  • Message to Dems: Do Your Own Job!

    With Eamon Javers, CNBC

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  • Does A Lower Unemployment Rate Mean A Better Labor Market?

    By Michael A. Fletcher, The Washington Post

    The government’s latest jobs report offered both good news and bad news, reflecting an emerging reality of the nation’s economy. The unemployment rate fell from 7.9 percent to 7.7 percent in November, the Labor Department reported Friday, its lowest level in four years. It has dropped more quickly in the past year than in any one-year period since 1995.

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  • The Marriage Plot: Inside This Year's Epic Campaign for Gay Equality

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    On May 9, President Obama sat for an interview in the White House with the ABC News anchor Robin Roberts. Both of them knew what she'd been summoned there to discuss, and Roberts didn't waste any time. "So, Mr. President," she said, "are you still opposed to same-sex marriage?"

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  • Navy SEAL Dies in Afghanistan Rescue Mission

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

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