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 11, 2013

  • 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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Jan 09, 2013

  • Groups Mobilize to Fight Gun Violence

    By Christie Parsons and Melanie Mason, Los Angeles Times

    As the White House prepares to unveil its recommendations this month to combat gun violence, advocates of reform are already working to generate public pressure for gun control policies that have long been stalled in Congress.

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  • In Step on ‘Light Footprint,’ Nominees Reflect a Shift

    By David E. Sanger, The New York Times

    With the selection of a new national security team deeply suspicious of the wisdom of American military interventions around the world, President Obama appears to have ended, at least for the moment, many of the internal administration debates that played out in the Situation Room over the past four years.

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  • With a Little Bit of Luck, AIG Will Shun This Lawsuit

    By Deborah Solomon, Bloomberg News

    Imagine, for a moment, if Eliza Doolittle sued Henry Higgins.

    Yes, he transformed the Cockney sprite into the toast of London, but he did nothing for the friends poor Eliza had to leave behind. And darn if the terms of her deal didn't border on abusive, what with all the voice and etiquette lessons required, not to mention making her ditch her sullied clothes.

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  • The GOP Looks Inward

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    No political party enjoys losing an election, but a healthy party reacts to defeat — after a suitable period of grieving — by trying to figure out what went wrong.

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  • Tunisia Frees Lone Suspect in Benghazi Attacks, Another Sign Investigation is in Trouble

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    Tunisian authorities on Tuesday released the only man held so far in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, according to the suspect’s lawyer, reaffirming fears that the Libyan-led investigation into the deaths is foundering.

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  • What I Learned From Richard Ben Cramer

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Having come to political reporting late, I didn't read Richard Ben Cramer's campaign epic What It Takes until last year, when I was deep in the task of covering the 2012 presidential campaign. Reading it in those circumstances was simultaneously intimidating and inspiring. As gallopingly pleasurable a read as it is, it often didn't feel like pleasure reading, so closely did it track my everyday life on the trail.

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Jan 08, 2013

  • Obama Announces Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense

    With Martha Raddatz

    The former Senator and veteran with two Purple Hearts faces scrutiny for past political positions.

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  • CIA Nominee Brennan Has Obama's 'Complete Trust'

    By Tom Gjelten

    President Obama's choice of John Brennan to lead the CIA appears to be less controversial than his decision to nominate former Sen. Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense.

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  • Choice to Lead C.I.A. Faces a Changed Agency

    By Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane, The New York Times

    President Obama’s nomination on Monday of John O. Brennan as director of the Central Intelligence Agency puts one of his closest and most powerful aides in charge of an agency that has been transformed by more than a decade of secret wars.

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  • US May Hit Debt Ceiling by Mid-February: Report

    By John Harwood, CNBC

    The U.S. government could exhaust its ability to meet all its financial obligations as early as Feb. 15, according to a new analysis by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

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  • Obama's Lobby-Busting Second Term

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Emboldened by reelection and a fiscal-cliff deal, President Obama is picking fights with two of the most powerful special interests in Washington: the pro-gun and pro-Israel lobbies.

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  • Hints of Syrian Chemical Push Set Off Global Effort to Stop It

    By David E. Sanger and Eric Scmitt

    In the last days of November, Israel’s top military commanders called the Pentagon to discuss troubling intelligence that was showing up on satellite imagery: Syrian troops appeared to be mixing chemicals at two storage sites, probably the deadly nerve gas sarin, and filling dozens of 500-pounds bombs that could be loaded on airplanes.

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Jan 07, 2013

  • Obama’s Pick for Defense Is an Ally, and a Lightning Rod

    By David E. Sanger and Scott Shane, The New York Times

    When President Obama nominates Chuck Hagel, the maverick Republican and former senator from Nebraska, to be his next secretary of defense, he will be turning to a trusted ally whose willingness to defy party loyalty and conventional wisdom won his admiration both in the Senate and on a 2008 tour of war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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