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!

Nov 26, 2012

  • ‘Fiscal cliff’: Consensus on increasing tax revenue, a wide gulf on how to do it

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    For the first time in decades, a bipartisan consensus has emerged in Washington to raise taxes. But negotiators working to avert the year-end “fiscal cliff” remain far apart on crucial details, including how taxes should go up and who should pay more.

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  • Petraeus, the comeback general

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Gen. David H. Petraeus, long the most famous overachiever in the U.S. Army, is already on his way to a new career distinction: breaking the land speed record for rehabilitation from a scandal.

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Nov 21, 2012

  • Gaza’s grim prophecy

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    The Gaza crisis teeters between the momentum of violence and a cease-fire all sides desperately want but no one can easily stomach. Many lives tragically hang in that precarious balance, but the outcome does not. Israel enjoys such overwhelming military superiority over Hamas militants that a tactical victory has always been assured, as evidenced by the lopsided death toll to date of over 100 Palestinians killed to three Israelis. The only question from the outset of Israel’s launching of “Operation Pillar of Defense” in response to escalating rocket attacks from Gaza, was at what cost?

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  • Obama, showing support for Israel, gains new leverage over Netanyahu

    By Helene Cooper and Mark Landler

    In the fractious relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, the shoe may have just shifted to the other foot.

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  • For Obama and Clinton, their final tour in Asia as partners

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    They emerged from Air Force One together, side by side, smiling at the crowd waiting on the tarmac below. Then as they headed down the stairs, she held back just a little so that she would stay a step behind him. For President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, this week’s trip to Southeast Asia is to be their last foreign adventure together in office, an intriguing, sometimes awkward closing road show that is nostalgic over a partnership at an end yet hints at a future ripe with possibility.

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  • Number of veterans in Congress continues to decline

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    A decade of wars abroad has not reversed the decline in military veterans serving in the U.S. Congress. When the next session convenes in January, the two chambers will have the fewest number of veterans serving since World War II. It's a continuation of a nearly four-decade-long decline of veterans in office since the peak of their service in the years after the Vietnam War.

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  • Grover Norquist the has-been

    By Doyle McManus, the Los Angeles Times

    Grover Norquist is losing his grip. It once seemed as if Washington's most powerful anti-tax crusader had the Republican Party firmly in hand. Signing Norquist's public pledge not to raise taxes was almost mandatory in GOP politics. Nine of the 10 candidates initially vying for the Republican presidential nomination, including Mitt Romney, signed on, as did candidates for local, state and national office.

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Nov 20, 2012

  • Clinton to visit Middle East in move to defuse Gaza conflict

    By Peter Baker and Isabel Kershner, The New York Times

    President Obama sent Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Middle East on Tuesday to try to defuse the conflict in Gaza, the White House announced.

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  • 4 men in California arrested for plot to kill Americans overseas

    With Pierre Thomas, ABC News

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  • Abraham Lincoln, vote hunter

    By John Dickerson

    Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is so lush you feel like you’re watching it in a velvet chair. The dark parlors and White House meeting rooms are full of fire and cigar smoke. The Lincoln played by Daniel Day Lewis seems so familiar it reminds you of the first time you heard him, except of course you never have. But after my wife and I watched the film, her first reaction was to say this: “I kept thinking about health care.” She wasn’t talking about the gritty scene at an Army hospital. She was talking about the Affordable Care Act.

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Nov 19, 2012

  • Obama, in an emerging Myanmar, vows support

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama journeyed to this storied tropical outpost of pagodas and jungles on Monday to “extend the hand of friendship” as a land long tormented by repression and poverty begins to throw off military rule and emerge from decades of isolation.

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  • Fiscal cliff negotiators are facing high hurdles

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    It's entirely possible that lawmakers and the White House will reach a deal that staves off an avalanche of tax increases and deep cuts in government programs before a Jan. 1 deadline. To do so, however, they'll have to resolve deep political and fiscal disagreements that have stymied them time after time despite repeated promises to overcome them.

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  • AARP uses its power to oppose Social Security, Medicare benefit cuts for retirees

    By Michael A. Fletcher and Zachary A. Goldfarb, The Washington Post

    AARP, the lobbying powerhouse for older Americans, last year made a dramatic concession. Amid a national debate over whether to overhaul Social Security, the group said for the first time it was open to cuts in benefits.The backlash from AARP members and liberal groups that oppose changes in the program was enormous — and this time around, as Washington debates how to tame the ballooning federal debt, AARP is flatly opposed to any benefit reductions for the nation’s retirees.

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  • After Benghazi hearings, flurry of concern unsettled

    By Tom Gjelten, NPR

    David Petraeus' resignation from the CIA further complicated the debate over the September attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. Petraeus, a key figure in the events, stepped down as director after admitting to an extramarital affair. But members of Congress were so anxious to hear from him that they brought Petraeus back to Capitol Hill on Friday to get his version of the Benghazi story.

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  • The death of the moderate Republican

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Republicans just lost eight seats in the House. But if you'd wandered into the House of Representatives last week without reading the election returns, you might have concluded that the GOP won big on Nov. 6.

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Nov 16, 2012

  • Demystifying the fiscal impasse that is vexing Washington

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    Many Americans must be wondering: What is all this about a “fiscal cliff”? And why did it receive so little attention during the presidential campaign?

    Well, it’s complicated — the so-called cliff, that is. And most solutions are politically painful. In a rare show of bipartisanship, or mutual protection, both parties ducked the debate until after the election. What follows is an attempt to demystify the issue, which President Obama and the lame-duck Congress now are struggling over, and which may occupy them right through the holidays.

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  • The 4 issues dragging down the economic recovery

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    It seems bizarre even to mention this less than two weeks after the vote, but President Obama just won an election that was all about the economy. That’s what six in 10 voters on Nov. 6 told exit pollsters they were most concerned about. Not balancing the budget, reforming the social-safety net, or making the rich pay more in taxes—rather, improving an economy still laboring to find a growth groove more than three years after the Great Recession officially ended. “Our top priority has to be jobs and growth,” Obama said in a press statement on the Friday after the election, and he’s right.

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  • Senate works on financial cliff options

    By Lori Montgomery and Zachary A. Goldfarb, The Washington Post

    As congressional leaders prepare to meet Friday morning at the White House to discuss the looming “fiscal cliff,” much of Washington is focused on the potential for compromise between President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

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  • G.O.P. Governors meet, amid whispers of 2016

    By Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times

    The polite praise initially showered upon Mitt Romney for having waged a good fight against President Obama has given way to a plea from some Republicans: Please stop talking.

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  • How to run a killer campaign

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Every morning when Barack Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina turned on his computer, he saw a snapshot of the state of the race. Campaign software engineers had built him a dashboard that showed how many doors volunteers had knocked on the night before, how many phone calls they had made, how much money had been raised, and what was moving on Twitter and other social networks. It also included a feed of traditional news feeds. “That allowed me to get a good sense in the morning of what was going on in our world.” Messina says it was about 10 days before Election Day when he looked at those numbers and the early-vote tallies that he began to smile. “That’s when I started to feel pretty good. I looked at the numbers and we were crushing it out there.”

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