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!

Mar 13, 2013

  • Obama’s approval drops as Americans take a dimmer view of his economic policies

    By Karen Tumulty and Jon Cohen, The Washington Post

    The afterglow of President Obama’s reelection and inauguration appears to have vanished as increasingly negative views among Americans about his stewardship of the economy have forced his public approval rating back down to the 50 percent mark, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

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  • Only battleground, not common ground, in budget wars

    By Susan Davis and David Jackson, USA Today

    Most Americans say they want President Obama and a divided Congress to compromise on major issues, but competing budget proposals out this week from House Republicans and Senate Democrats underscore why it's so hard to find.

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  • Ryan sets stage for a budget duel, targets health-care law

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are drafting radically different budget blueprints that offer little room for compromise, even as President Obama presses lawmakers to take another shot at a far-reaching agreement to tame the national debt.

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  • Is Obama Setting a Trap for Republicans?

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    In politics and human relations, it's best to be skeptical of uncharacteristic generosity. When my son offers to do the dishes, I know I'll find something broken somewhere in the house soon enough. When an email from a distant acquaintance starts on a chatty note, I prepare for the Big Ask. In only the most well-adjusted marriages would a spouse’s surprise gift of flowers not stir the least bit of suspicion in their mate.

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  • Security Leader Says U.S. Would Retaliate Against Cyberattacks

    by Mark Mazzetti and David Sanger, The New York Times

    The chief of the military’s newly created Cyber Command told Congress on Tuesday that he is establishing 13 teams of programmers and computer experts who could carry out offensive cyberattacks on foreign nations if the United States were hit with a major attack on its own networks, the first time the Obama administration has publicly admitted to developing such weapons for use in wartime.

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  • Gun Owners’ ‘List’ Slows Background-Check Bill in Senate

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    If you expand background checks on gun purchases to private sales and Internet sales, what happens to “the list” of gun buyers? It could create a paper trail for every lawful gun owner in America.

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Mar 12, 2013

  • In President’s Outreach to G.O.P., Past Failures Loom

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    For all the attention to President Obama’s new campaign of outreach to Republicans, it was four months ago — on the eve of bipartisan budget talks — that he secretly invited five of them to the White House for a movie screening with the stars of “Lincoln,” the film about that president’s courtship of Congress to pass a significant measure. None accepted.

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  • GOP Presents Budget Today

    With John Harwood, CNBC and The New York Times

    Watch
  • Paul Ryan unveils $4.6 trillion plan to cut the deficit

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    House Republicans unveiled a budget Tuesday that would balance the nation's books in 10 years without raising taxes but by eliminating President Obama's health care law, revamping Medicare for future retirees and creating just two tax brackets for individuals -- 10% and 25%.

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  • Obama's Liberal Goals Collide With 2014 Campaign Map

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    As President Obama prepares to address a “founders' summit” of Organizing for Action on Wednesday, the challenges facing the nonprofit lobbying group that has replaced his campaign are becoming clearer.

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  • The Story of Paul and Barack

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    When he releases his budget Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan will not win membership to President Obama's Common Sense Caucus. That's the name the president uses to describe his yet-to-be-defined group of lawmakers who are open to supporting a grand budget bargain. Membership in the CSC is built around a basic agreement about how to shrink the deficit: Republicans will accept some revenue from the tax code in exchange for Democrats agreeing to cuts in entitlement spending. That formula is what puts Ryan out of the running: His budget reportedly will balance in 10 years, without tax increases. His plan is also premised on the repeal of Obamacare.

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Mar 11, 2013

  • Washington Budget Battle Looms

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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  • Obama to Name Civil-Rights Official Thomas Perez as Labor Secretary

    By Christi Parsons and Lisa Mascaro, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama intends to nominate career civil-rights attorney Thomas Perez as secretary of Labor, people familiar with the deliberations confirmed Sunday.

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  • Following Rove's muddy path

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama owes Karl Rove a thank-you note.

    During last year's election campaign, Rove and other Republicans showed how federal tax law could be stretched to turn a political committee into a "social welfare" organization. These nonprofit organizations, known as 501(c)(4)s, are defined by the Internal Revenue Code as "primarily engaged in promoting in some way the common good and general welfare."

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  • How a U.S. Citizen Came to Be in America’s Cross Hairs

    By Mark Mazzetti, Charlie Savage, and Scott Shane, The New York Times

    One morning in late September 2011, a group of American drones took off from an airstrip the C.I.A. had built in the remote southern expanse of Saudi Arabia. The drones crossed the border into Yemen, and were soon hovering over a group of trucks clustered in a desert patch of Jawf Province, a region of the impoverished country once renowned for breeding Arabian horses.

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  • What Undocumented Workers Really Want

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    Brad Bailey knows he has his work cut out for him. He sips a beer and watches as members of the Republican Party of Walker County mingle before their annual Ronald Reagan dinner. It’s an all-white, well-heeled group with a smattering of cowboy hats mixed in.

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Mar 08, 2013

  • Inside the Rand Paul Filibuster

    By Beth Reinhard and Shane Goldmacher, National Journal

    Eleven days before he spent nearly 13 hours filibustering on the Senate floor, Sen. Rand Paul floated his idea to block the president’s pick for CIA director to one of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s top political strategists over a Saturday night dinner of lasagna and red wine at his home in Bowling Green, Ky.

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  • Will Strategy Change Bottom Line?

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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  • Welcome to the White House

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    President Obama is reaching out to Republicans. He had dinner with GOP senators Wednesday night and he had lunch with his former rival House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan Thursday afternoon. For the moment, Friday breakfast is open, but perhaps Dick Cheney is free. Next week he will visit Republicans in the House and Senate.

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  • Not So Comfortably Smug

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    It's easy to mock Republicans these days. They are sitting on record low approval ratings. The party is woefully behind the demographic curve on everything from gay rights to immigration and are still trapped in the 20th Century when it comes to campaign technology. A recent headline on a Pew Research poll sums up the GOP's troubles thusly: "GOP Seen as Principled, But Out of Touch and Too Extreme."

    That said, Democrats should be careful about getting too comfortable about their prospects in 2014 and beyond.

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