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 17, 2012

  • 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.”

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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, 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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