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!

Apr 16, 2013

  • Republicans Embrace Obama’s Offer to Trim Social Security Benefits

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    President Obama’s offer to trim Social Security benefits has perplexed and angered Democrats, but GOP leaders are embracing the proposal and rushing to jump-start a debate that will delve even more deeply into the touchy topic of federal spending on the elderly.

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  • As Debate Begins, Senate Background Check Proposal for Gun Sales Lacks Necessary Votes

    By Ed O’Keefe and Tom Hamburger, The Washington Post

    Debate on a major overhaul of the of the nation’s gun-control laws is scheduled to begin Tuesday in the U.S. Senate, but there were still not enough votes late Monday to assure expansion of the national gun background check program for gun sales, which is the centerpiece of the proposal.

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  • Immigration Reform Isn't Hurting Marco Rubio's Bottom Line

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Though championing immigration reform is widely viewed as a political gamble for Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, it hasn't stalled his rapidly churning fundraising machine.

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  • Finally, a Phrase to Describe the Agony of Losing Control of Your Gadgets

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Have you ever been happily typing along and suddenly had your text disappear? Or you’ve launched a program you didn't intend? You told your iPhone to be silent for your daughter's play, but when you sat up before her crucial scene, you somehow launched iTunes. I'm gonna pop some tags, only got 20 dollars in my pocket.

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Apr 15, 2013

  • Why a Messed Up Immigration Bill Could Still Pass

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    Only one thing really matters in the immigration bill that a bipartisan group of eight senators will unveil this week—11 million immigrants living in the United States without papers who fear deportation every day. Give them a break, and the rest will sort itself out.

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  • Supreme Court Passes on Gun Rights Case

    By Pete Williams, NBC News

    The United States Supreme Court has declined to take up the hottest question about gun rights now dividing the nation's courts: is there a constitutional right to carry a gun outside the home?

    The justices today passed up a challenge brought by five residents of New York's Westchester County to a state law that forbids carrying a gun unless a person desiring to do so can show "proper cause" -- some special need for protection that goes beyond a general desire for self-defense. Those who can demonstrate that need can be granted a license to carry a firearm. The federal appeals courts are split on whether the Second Amendment provides a right to carry a gun in public.

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  • Sandy Hook and Grief: Gun Control Advocates Plead their Case

    By Christi Parsons, Kathleen Hennessey and Michael A. Memoli, Los Angeles Times

    The White House turned over the president’s weekly address to a stand-in Saturday, airing on its website gripping video of Francine Wheeler talking about the life and death of her 6-year-old son, Ben, shot in his classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

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  • Washington Confronts Still-Divided America

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    Bipartisanship and cross-party alliances are suddenly in vogue in the Senate this spring. The question is whether the Senate is a leading indicator of a change in politics or largely an aberration in a nation divided along red and blue lines.

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  • President Obama, Republicans Fight the Class War

    By John F. Harris and Jonathan Martin, Politico

    There was nothing especially subtle about the way Barack Obama played the politics of class resentment against Mitt Romney in 2012.

    “My opponent,” Obama brayed in Virginia Beach last fall, “thinks that someone who makes $20 million a year, like him, should pay a lower [tax] rate than a cop or a teacher who makes $50,000.”

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  • Obama’s Budget Revives Benefits as Divisive Issue

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    Whether or not Republicans ever agree to a budget deal with President Obama, one thing seems certain: now that he has officially put Social Security and Medicare benefits on the negotiating table, opponents on his party’s left will make that an issue for Democrats in the midterm elections next year — and perhaps in the 2016 presidential contest.

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Apr 12, 2013

  • Senate Moves to Debate Gun Legislation; Vote Includes Significant GOP Support

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    The Senate voted 68 to 31 on Thursday to begin debating legislation to curb gun violence, launching what many expect will be weeks of deliberations on the most significant proposals to overhaul the nation’s gun laws in two decades.

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  • 3 Strong Pro-Gun Arguments to Watch

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    Republicans opposing gun-control legislation in the Senate are readying several arguments that could be viewed as deflections and excuses. In fact, they are raising complex questions about mental health, federal enforcement, and gun-purchase records that deserve the thorough and intense debate they are about to receive.

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  • Report Says N. Korea Can Attach Nuke to Long-Range Missile

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    Secretary of State arrives in South Korea as an intelligence report was accidentally declassified.

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  • North Korea May Have A Nuclear Warhead To Put On A Missile, Says Pentagon

    With Tom Gjelten, NPR

    The Pentagon's intelligence arm has "moderate confidence" that North Korea may have developed the technology to create nuclear weapons that are small enough to fit on a long-range missile.

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  • Hypocrisy Runs Deep in Washington's Budget Debates

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Hypocrisy is nothing new in Washington. The long-running debate over taxes and spending, however, is producing especially blatant examples of politicians contradicting themselves or attacking opponents for taking the very stances they've taken themselves.

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  • Both parties wary of Obama's proposal to cut Social Security

    By Sam Youngman and Mark Felsenthal, Reuters

    Republicans, Democrats and even the White House distanced themselves Thursday from President Barack Obama's proposal to trim Social Security and other safety-net benefits, illustrating yet again the difficulty of reaching a bargain to reduce spending and tame the deficit.

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  • Crunch Time for Obama and Washington

    By Gloria Borger, CNN

    It's not often that a presidential to-do list (and legacy-making agenda) comes down to a couple of key weeks, but here we are: gun control, immigration reform and the budget -- all front and center, right now.

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Apr 11, 2013

  • Obama Budget Opens Rift for Democrats on Social Benefits

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    President Obama’s new budget has opened a debate over what it means to be a progressive Democrat in an age of austerity and defines him as a president willing to take on the two pillars of his party — Medicare and Social Security — created by Democratic presidents. By his gamble on Wednesday in proposing budgetary concessions to Republicans on Social Security, the 1935 creation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Medicare, the legacy of President Lyndon B. Johnson, Mr. Obama has provoked angry supporters on his left to ask whether he is a progressive at all.

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  • Obama budget: Can entitlement changes lure GOP into talks?

    By Susan Davis and Aamer Madhani, USA Today

    President Obama used the prospect of entitlement reform in the budget he unveiled Wednesday to lure Republican leaders back to negotiations on cutting the nation's $16 trillion debt. "If we can come together, have a serious, reasoned debate — not driven by politics ... then I'm confident we will move this country forward," Obama said before his $3.77 trillion budget for 2014 was released.

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  • Obama Budget Hit From Left and Right

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    In a seemingly endless tug of war over the nation’s fiscal fitness, President Obama tried Wednesday to send some peacemaking smoke signals to Republicans using his newest budget. In the process, some Democrats were quick to object.

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