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!

Feb 19, 2013

  • Will Higher Taxes on the Rich Derail California’s Economic Comeback?

    By Jim Tankersley, The Washington Post

    If there’s anyplace in the country where rising tax rates should choke off an economic recovery, it’s California. On top of the federal tax hikes that kicked in last month, the state has just raised income taxes on its wealthiest residents to the highest levels in the nation, a move that conservatives warn will drive millionaires and their companies to other states, taking jobs and growth with them.

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  • Chinese Army Unit Is Seen as Tied to Hacking Against U.S.

    By David E. Sanger, David Barboza and Nicole Perloth. The New York Times

    On the outskirts of Shanghai, in a run-down neighborhood dominated by a 12-story white office tower, sits a People’s Liberation Army base for China’s growing corps of cyberwarriors.

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  • Chinese Allegedly Tied to Cyber Attacks on US

    With Pierre Thomas, ABC News

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  • Obama and Woods Meet for a Round of Golf

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    President Obama and Tiger Woods will both live a dream on Sunday: playing golf together for the first time.

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Feb 15, 2013

  • Senate Blocks Hagel Nomination - For Now

    By Susan Davis and David Jackson, USA Today

    Republicans delayed Defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel's confirmation Thursday for at least one week, citing concerns that senators have not had enough time to review his nomination.

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  • Obama Holds Forth in Google Chat, Rips Congress

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    President Obama blasted senators Thursday for orchestrating a filibuster to block the confirmation of his embattled Pentagon nominee, former Sen. Chuck Hagel. He accused lawmakers of being overtly political in continuing to demand documents about the attacks in Benghazi. And he said some members of Congress are motivated by re-election and won’t tackle climate change.

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  • Can Marco Rubio Live Up to the Hype?

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    The freshman senator from Florida had joined four veteran colleagues to unveil a proposal for the first major overhaul of immigration law in a quarter-century. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced “my friend, Senator [Marco] Rubio, who obviously is a new but incredibly important voice in this whole issue of immigration reform.”

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  • Senate Democrats Propose Cuts, Tax Hikes on Rich to Avoid Sequester

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    With another fiscal deadline just two weeks away, Senate Democrats on Thursday announced a plan to protect the Pentagon and other federal agencies from deep, automatic spending cuts in part by raising taxes on millionaires.

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  • Four Key Questions for Health-Care Law

    By David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    Thanks to the Supreme Court and Barack Obama's re-election, the Affordable Care Act—"Obamacare" to foes and a few of its friends—isn't going away. The issue now is how it will work.

    Even by Washington standards, implementing this law is extraordinarily complex. The federal government last year issued 70,000 pages of guidance, including 130 pages on the look of websites for new marketplaces where many will shop for insurance.

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Feb 14, 2013

  • What Mitt Romney Can Teach Marco Rubio

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    What's worse for your political ambitions, being labeled a wimp by Newsweek or a savior by Time? Marco Rubio, the freshman senator from Florida, has been stuck with the savior label and it has several disadvantages. It makes allies suspicious, irritates your rivals, and perhaps worst of all: When you're a savior, people expect you to perform miracles.

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  • Questions Linger After Obama's Speech

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    When President Obama’s hour-long State of the Union address was over Tuesday night, three basic questions lingered surrounding his list of incentives and partnerships and “we can get this done!” admonitions.

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  • Another Day, Another GOP Attempt to Rebrand the Party

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Just what the world needs: another super PAC?

    NewRepublican.org is the brainchild of GOP consultant and CNN pundit Alex Castellanos, whose clients have included Mitt Romney and former President George W. Bush. Castellanos is joining a growing cottage industry of Republicans who are trying to rebrand and rebuild the party as President Obama begins his second term. He points to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as role models,

    “If you are tired of the old, slow, dumb, top-down Washington way of doing things, you are thinking like a new Republican,” Castellanos said, describing his new initiative as a “super PAC marries a think tank.”

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  • Congress Has No Clear Path to Avoid Broad Budget Cuts

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    A divided Congress will take next week off and then return to a familiar conflict: a looming, self-inflicted budget deadline that threatens economic stability with no resolution in sight on how to resolve it.

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  • Growth Isn’t Enough to Help the Middle Class

    By Jim Tankersley, The Washington Post

    Two kinds of middle-class Americans are struggling today — people who can’t find any work or enough work, and full-timers who can’t seem to get ahead.

    Democrats and Republicans prescribe economic growth to help both groups. There was a time that would have been enough. But not today.

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  • Senate Democrats, Accusing G.O.P. of Obstruction, Try to Force Hagel Vote

    By Mark Mazzetti and Jeremy W. Peters, The New York Times

    Accusing Republicans of a new level of obstruction, Senate Democrats moved on Wednesday to force a vote on President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense.

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Feb 13, 2013

  • Obama's Wish List

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    The president's State of the Union address was more than 6,000 words, but its message to voters could fit inside a single tweet: I am full of ideas that will directly affect your life, but these people in the audience are blocking them. The president brought a ton of proposals on Tuesday night: universal preschool, tax reform, immigration reform, a minimum wage increase, a cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions, infrastructure investments, new housing incentives, manufacturing incentives, energy plans, a program for scoring college education by affordability, and paycheck equity. They all seemed to have ready-made hashtags: #manufacturinghub, #fixitfirst, and #collegescorecard. There was no moon shot or a plan for overhauling Social Security, but in the aggregate it was a lot, especially in the current environment where the Senate can't pass a budget, House conservatives are ready to burn the ships, and Barack Obama and the John Boehner openly question the other's toughness.

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  • Obama Urges a Move Away From Narrow Focus on Politics of Austerity

    By Karen Tumulty and Philip Rucker

    Just about every argument in Washington since the 2010 midterm elections, which returned control of the House to Republicans, has centered on reducing the federal deficit. On Tuesday night, President Obama leaned into his second term by declaring that a single-minded focus on deficit reduction would jeopardize the nation’s future. And he sounded an urgent call to rebuild.

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  • In a Shift for GOP, Marco Rubio Demonstrates the Power of Spanish

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    By delivering the Republican response to the State of the Union speech in Spanish, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on Tuesday broke through an increasingly powerful language barrier between the political establishment and the nation’s fastest-growing demographic.

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  • Republicans tear into Obama on spending

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    The second-term priorities President Obama outlined in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday face significant roadblocks in a divided Congress, and Republicans were quick to point them out Tuesday.

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  • Why Would Anyone Oppose the Violence Against Women Act?

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Today's GOP has a talent for gratuitously making itself look bad.

    On Tuesday, a growing faction threatened to derail the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which passed the Senate with 22 dissenting Republican votes. A couple of months ago, Senate Republicans defeated a treaty on disabilities -- rebuking their own party's war heroes, Bob Dole and John McCain, who spoke in support of the measure. One can imagine that for their next stunt, Republicans will oppose a bill to help the elderly across the street, or vote against a resolution honoring motherhood and apple pie.

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