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!

Oct 24, 2011

  • Clinton defends troop withdrawal from Iraq

    by Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday that the U.S. will maintain a strong military interest in Iraq, after its last combat troops leave this year, and she warned Iran not to try and take advantage of the pullout.

    Read more
  • Clinton defends troop withdrawal from Iraq

    by Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    With his jobs plan stymied in Congress by Republican opposition, President Obama on Monday will begin a series of executive-branch actions to confront housing, education and other economic problems over the coming months, heralded by a new mantra: “We can’t wait” for lawmakers to act.

    Read more
  • McManus: Mosque and State

    by Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    At a conference two years ago, I sat in on a meeting between U.S. officials and young Islamist politicians from Tunisia, Jordan and other countries in the Middle East. The Islamists wanted to know: Would the Americans allow them to run in free elections, even if it meant they might come to power? The Americans turned the question back at them: Would the Islamists, if they won, allow free and democratic elections, even if it might mean losing power?

    Read more
  • Panetta's Pentagon, Without the Blank Check

    by Peter Baker, The New York Times

    Tan and ruddy-faced, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta took his seat in a hearing room one morning this month ready for battle. The enemy, he warned lawmakers ominously, was “a blind, mindless” one that could “badly damage our capabilities” and “truly devastate our national defense.”

    Read more

Oct 21, 2011

  • Mitt Woos Iowa

    by John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Iowa is a dusty place this time of year. Billows rise up from the combines in the field as the corn is harvested. Your eyes get scratchy. But no dust sticks to Mitt Romney. He is the stainless-steel candidate: precise, technically flawless, and lacking warmth. "I love this country," he said at the end of his town hall at Morningside College Thursday morning. "I hope I made that clear. I didn’t say that as directly as I’d like to: I love America.” Yes, he was sincere, and, yes, the delivery was synthetic.

    Read more
  • The End of an Affair

    by Yochi J. Dreazen, National Journal

    The death of former Libyan ruler Muammar el-Qaddafi allows the Obama administration to claim credit for ending a war it never wanted to fight. The White House wavered for weeks before it reluctantly joined the NATO campaign. It deployed far fewer aides to Libya than its allies, pledged much less money, and was the last major allied power to recognize the interim government. But the White House has a simple reason for celebrating—and slightly exaggerating—its role in ousting Qaddafi: American power is on the wane throughout the Middle East, and Libya is a rare success story.

    Read more
  • Rick Perry's flat tax plan is a political gamble

    by Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry's call for a flat income tax rate will tie his Republican presidential campaign to a contentious issue that excites many conservatives but has repeatedly failed to win the embrace of mainstream America.

    Read more
  • Illegal immigrant attack on Mitt Romney persists

    by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, POLITICO

    It’s hard to dispute that Rick Perry's he-hired-an-illegal-immigrant attack on Mitt Romney was a cheap shot.  It’s even harder to dispute that it worked beautifully.

    Read more
  • The Next Flat Tax Plan

    by John Harwood, CNBC

    Texas Governor Rick Perry plans to unveil his flat tax plan next week.  John Harwood previews the plan.

    Watch video
  • Untangling the Long-Term-Unemployment Crisis

    by David Wessel, The Wall Street Journal

    Herman Cain, the Republican presidential candidate, avoids carefully calibrated talking points. "If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself," he said in a Wall Street Journal interview.

    Read more
  • Eurozone Debt Crisis Divides France, Germany

    by Tom Gjelten, NPR

    European efforts to resolve its debt crisis stand in disarray. France and Germany are divided over how to finance bailout programs for Greece and other highly indebted countries. The question is who will back down first.

    Listen to the story
  • Top Lawmakers Push Debt Panel to Wrap Up

    by Janet Hook, The Wall Street Journal

    Senate and House leaders are becoming more directly involved with the supercommittee responsible for delivering a sizable deficit-reduction plan by Thanksgiving, amid growing concern the panel's members could be deadlocked.

    Read more

Oct 20, 2011

  • Rick Perry called Herman Cain “brother.” Why?

    By Nia-Malika Henderson, Washington Post

    When Rick Perry, who has been dogged by allegations of racial insensitivity because of a hunting camp his family leased, called Herman Cain, the only black person on the Las Vegas debate stage Tuesday night “brother,” he raised a racial antennae among some viewers.

    Read more
  • Supercommittee’s lack of progress on debt reduction raises alarms on Hill

    By Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane, Washington Post

    With a Thanksgiving deadline fast approaching, a powerful congressional panel devoted to debt reduction is running in rhetorical circles, unable to break the impasse over taxes that has long blocked aggressive action to tame the national debt.

    Read more
  • CLASS Act?

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    CLASS dismissed. With extreme prejudice. The Obama administration has deemed the CLASS Act, a portion of the landmark health care law, a budget-buster. It terminated the program last Friday, less than a month after most of its staff had been dismissed or reassigned and denials flew about the CLASS Act’s demise.

    Read more
  • Obama campaign manager: Romney 'has no credibility' on middle-class issues

    By Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg

    President Barack Obama, promoting his jobs plan in Virginia, said a group of 270 companies including ConAgra Foods Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc. has pledged to hire 25,000 military veterans and spouses by the end of 2013.

    Read more
  • AP-GfK Poll: Public unsettled on Obama challenger

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Americans have yet to find a Republican they'd clearly prefer over President Barack Obama, although half say the president does not deserve re-election. Among Republicans, the desire to oust Obama is clear, according to a new AP-GfK poll. But it has not resolved divisions over the choice of a nominee. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is reasonably popular, but he has not pulled away from the field.

    Read more
  • Obama in the Occupy Wall Street camp

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    If you're one of the thousands of demonstrators sleeping in parks, carrying signs and banging on drums to protest Wall Street's hammerlock on American politics, President Obama wants you to know he feels your pain.

    Read more
  • Bad Blood Between Perry and Romney Is Longstanding

    By Jeff Zeleny and Michael D. Shear, New York Times

    The hostilities flaring between Mitt Romney and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas have been steadily rising inside both camps and may signal a new, more combative phase in the Republican presidential campaign.

    Read more

Oct 19, 2011

  • Unlike in Israel, Missing U.S. Soldiers' Plight Not a National Struggle

    By Yochi J. Dreazen, National Journal

    In the years since their capture in Afghanistan and Iraq, U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and Army Staff Sgt. Ahmed Altaie have been largely forgotten by both Washington and the American public. There have been no protests demanding the government make whatever concessions necessary to win their release. Most Americans don’t even know their names.

    Read more