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 21, 2012

  • Obama Names Kerry as Nominee to Replace Clinton at State

    By Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg

    President Barack Obama named Massachusetts Senator John Kerry as his choice to become the next U.S. secretary of state, saying he has the respect and trust of leaders around the world.

    Read more
  • NRA's Wayne LaPierre Calls for Armed Security at Every School

  • NRA Offers Free Advice on Arming Schools

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    It was called a press conference, but it was really a dog-and-pony show. Or rather, a dog-and-ID show. Reporters were required to show ID twice before checking in to a crowded ballroom in a downtown Washington, D.C., hotel, where they had already pre-registered, while sniffer dogs roamed between their legs.

    Read more
  • Obama Asks Supporters to Push Congress on Gun Control

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama sought on Friday to enlist supporters to mount a public lobbying campaign on behalf of gun control in the wake of the mass killings in Newtown, Conn., suggesting that Congress would listen only if forced to by a populist backlash to gun violence.

    Read more

Dec 20, 2012

  • Obama vs. the NRA

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine


    There are two ways to kill a policy idea in Washington: Broaden it to include every interested person with an opinion, or appoint a commission. If you broaden it, it quickly becomes a cacophonous mess, and everyone throws up his or her hands. Commissions, almost by design, are where action goes for a nap. So when President Obama unveiled his preliminary response to the Newtown, Conn., massacre in his news conference on Wednesday—a commission headed by Vice President Joe Biden to drum up some wide-ranging recommendations—you might have had reason to worry that Obama wasn’t serious about committing himself to gun control.

    Read more
  • New Calls for Gun Limits

    By Laura Meckler and Gary Field, Wall Street Journal

    Several lawmakers Sunday called for reintroducing a ban on assault weapons in the wake of Friday's deadly school rampage. President Barack Obama is also likely to propose gun-policy changes, according to two administration officials.

    Read more
  • Obama and Boehner Diverge Sharply on Fiscal Plan

    By Jackie Calmes and Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times

    Hopes for a broad deficit-reduction agreement faded on Wednesday as President Obama insisted he had offered Republicans “a fair deal” while Speaker John A. Boehner moved for a House vote as early as Thursday on a scaled-down plan to limit tax increases to yearly incomes of $1 million and up, despite Senate opposition and Mr. Obama’s veto threat.

    Read more
  • GOP Unveils a 'Plan B' if Budget Talks Fail

    By Janey Hook, Carol E. Lee and Corey Boles, Wall Street Journal

    Despite progress toward agreement on a budget deal with the White House, House Republican leaders on Tuesday proposed a backup plan to prevent most Americans from facing an income-tax increase if negotiations collapse.

    Read more
  • 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