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 20, 2012

  • 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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Nov 15, 2012

  • David Petraeus to Testify on Benghazi attack

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    Martha Raddatz discusses the former CIA head's knowledge of the terror attack.

     

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  • Obama meets C.E.O.’s as fiscal reckoning nears

    By Helene Cooper and Nelson D. Schwartz, The New York Times

    President Obama extended an olive branch to business leaders Wednesday, seeking their support as he prepared to negotiate with Congressional Republicans over the fiscal impasse in Washington.

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  • Obama says no ‘red lines’ on top tax rate, signaling some flexibility in debt talks

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

    President Obama cracked open the door to compromise with Republicans on tax rates for the nation’s wealthiest households Wednesday, saying he is “open to new ideas” for increasing their tax bills without letting the top rate rise as scheduled in January to 39.6 percent.

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  • Libyan officials acknowledge they’ve arrested no suspects in Benghazi consulate attack

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    Two months after the American ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in assaults on U.S. facilities here, there have been no arrests of suspected attackers, and Libyan officials say it is unlikely any will be made anytime soon.

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Nov 14, 2012

  • Petraeus will testify behind closed doors on Benghazi

    By Pierre Thomas and Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    Former CIA Director David Petraeus has agreed to testify at a closed-door session of Congress to answer questions about September's terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, but he will likely also be asked about new revelations that his alleged mistress Paula Broadwell is suspected of storing classified military material, at her home.

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  • Scandals remind us generals are not infallible [audio]

    By Tom Gjelten, NPR

    The investigation that forced the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus has ensnared Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The two cases raise questions about the relationship between top officers and their civilian boss. It can be awkward but on occasion the president must disregard the counsel of military commanders.

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  • Obama to open talks with $1.6 trillion plan to raise taxes on corporations, wealthy

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

    President Obama is taking a hard line with congressional Republicans heading into negotiations over the year-end “fiscal cliff,” making no opening concessions and calling for far more in new taxes than Republicans have so far been willing to consider.

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  • Obama vows firm stance on deficit-reduction plan

    By Jackie Calmes and Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times

    President Obama reassured leaders of labor and progressive groups on Tuesday that he will not yield to Congressional Republicans and extend Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans as he negotiates for a deficit-reduction plan to avoid looming tax increases and spending cuts.

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  • The fiscal cliff: Will Obama, Congress cut budget deal?

    Susan Davis, Richard Wolf and Tim Mullaney, USA Today

    Five people will gather Friday inside the White House to begin making decisions that could affect the pocketbooks of 315 million Americans.

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