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!

Jan 15, 2013

  • Rubio Tries to Outduel Obama on Immigration

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s newly unveiled proposal for sweeping immigration reform looms as a daunting leadership test for a freshman member of Congress on the fast track to the 2016 presidential campaign.

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  • 401(k) Breaches Undermining Retirement Security for Millions

    By Michael A. Fletcher, The Washington Post

    A large and growing share of American workers are tapping their retirement savings accounts for non-retirement needs, raising broad questions about the effectiveness of one of the most important savings vehicles for old age.

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  • Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas breaks seven-year silence

    With Jan Crawford, CBS News

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Jan 14, 2013

  • Coming Home

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    During the presidential campaign I kept a list of questions for the candidates. "Are you wearing underwear?" was not on it. But this was the question I yelled into the street as my 8-year-old daughter vaulted into the car before the drive to school. The election was over and I was on assignment. As part of Slate’s Reader Takeover, I asked readers which of the things that I’d neglected during my 16 months on the campaign trail I should return to, and write about. Slate readers, wise creatures, told me to reconnect with my children.

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  • How the Fiscal-Cliff Deal Will Define Obama's Second Term

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    The fiscal cliff was not the end. If anything, it was the beginning of a new season of crisis on Capitol Hill. Aren't you glad?

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  • Confronting Iran -- Again

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Here's a prediction I don't think I'll have to apologize for at the end of the year: Some time in the coming months, probably this spring, there will be another crisis over Iran's nuclear program.

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  • French Strikes in Mali Supplant Caution of U.S.

    By Mark Mazzetti, Adam Nossiter, Eric Schmitt, The New York Times

    French fighter jets struck deep inside Islamist strongholds in northern Mali on Sunday, shoving aside months of international hesitation about storming the region after every other effort by the United States and its allies to thwart the extremists had failed.

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  • The Shift of King Coal

    By Reid Wilson, National Journal's Hotline

    When West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller formally announced his decision to quit the Senate on Friday, he opened the next chapter in one of the few true historic shifts taking place in American politics. Even before his announcement, Republicans were eyeing his seat as a prime pickup opportunity, a reflection of the ascendance of the Republican Party in Appalachia, a shift in which working-class white voters who have reliably cast ballots for Democratic politicians for the better part of a century are moving inexorably, and perhaps permanently, toward the Republican Party.

    That's because in Appalachia, coal is still king.

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Jan 11, 2013

  • Biden Hints at "Universal" Gun-Buyer Background Checks

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    Racing to complete consultations with stakeholders in the national debate about guns and mass shootings, Vice President Biden suggested Thursday that “universal” background checks for all gun buyers will likely be one of the recommendations forwarded to President Obama by Jan. 15.

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  • Tough Path Seen by Obama on Ban of Assault Weapons

    By Peter Baker and Michael D. Shear

    While President Obama pledged to crack down on access to what he called “weapons of war” in the aftermath of last month’s schoolhouse massacre, the White House has calculated that a ban on military-style assault weapons will be exceedingly difficult to pass through Congress and is focusing on other measures it deems more politically achievable.

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  • Hagel’s Confirmation Proceedings Will Be Short on Old Senate Allies

    By Jeff Zeleny and Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times

    For a man who spent 12 years in the Senate, Chuck Hagel will find himself with few close allies when the Armed Services Committee takes up his nomination to be secretary of defense this month.

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  • Can Obama and Karzai Avoid Iraq Redux?

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    When President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai sit down to lunch at the White House on Friday, they will attempt to hash out a workable separation agreement. The White House would like to withdraw as many of the remaining 68,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan as rapidly as possible between now and the end of 2014, and leave as few as necessary behind to continue supporting Afghan security forces and striking terrorist targets in the region. Karzai will argue for pledges of maximum U.S. monetary support for years to come, with minimal strings attached that might impinge on Afghan sovereignty and his own room to maneuver domestically. Both leaders will be driven toward hard bargaining by constituencies that are bone-weary of the relationship and the conflict at its core.

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  • What Would Jack Lew's First Priority Be?

    With Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News

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  • From Cliff to Ceiling

    By Greg Ip, Economist

    America sidestepped one fiscal disaster at the turn of the year when Barack Obama and Congress agreed to keep most tax rates from rising. A much bigger one is as little as five weeks away, when the Treasury Department runs out of legal authority to borrow. Failure to raise the “debt ceiling”, Mr Obama has warned, would force the government to default on its obligations. Republicans say they need some sort of leverage to drag a spendthrift president to the negotiating table. They have a point, but the debt ceiling is a dangerous tool with which to make it.

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Jan 10, 2013

  • Obama to Name Loyalist Lew to Head Treasury

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    President Obama has decided on White House Chief of Staff Jacob “Jack” Lew to head the Department of Treasury, administration officials confirmed Wednesday night.

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  • Cabinet Shuffle: Labor Secretary Hilda Solis Is Out

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced her resignation Wednesday, creating another opening in the Cabinet reshuffle that will kick off President Obama's second term.

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  • Obama Hasn't Reined In Big Money

    By Christi Parsons and Matea Gold, Los Angeles Times

    Even before Barack Obama was sworn in as president the first time, he touted his efforts to "change business as usual in Washington" by setting strict rules for his inauguration: No corporate donations were allowed; individuals could give only $50,000.

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  • Platinomics

    By Greg Ip, Economist

    In the many years I’ve spent scrutinizing monetary policy, I had never devoted more than a thought to coins. In the scheme of all things monetary, they seemed, well, pocket change.

    Needless to say, the prospect of the Treasury issuing a $1 trillion platinum coin to circumvent the debt ceiling changes that. I won’t repeat the details; you can get up to speed by reading Matthew O’Brien of The Atlantic here and my colleague here. If nothing else, unpicking the consequences is a fun exercise. I’ve concluded the economics are more complicated and more benign than appreciated, but the political consequences are graver.

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  • Iranian Government May Be Behind Recent Cyber Attacks

    With Tom Gjelten, NPR

    Over the last several months, U.S. banks have been subjected to a series of cyber attacks apparently aimed at disrupting normal operations. A volunteer cyber militia group has taken credit for the attacks, saying they are to protest the anti-Islam video that has angered the Muslim world. But U.S. officials and cybersecurity experts are increasingly convinced the government of Iran is behind the attacks. Tom Gjelten talks to Melissa Block.

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  • Robert Levinson Missing in Iran, State Department Weighs In

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

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