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 15, 2013

  • 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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  • Gun debate shows how a fiery minority can prevail

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    At first glance, it seems Republicans are verging on a blunder. With about 90 percent of Americans favoring universal background checks for gun buyers, GOP lawmakers' strong resistance might appear foolhardy.

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  • NBC-WSJ Poll: Is Immigration Good For the Country?

    With John Harwood, CNBC and The New York Times

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  • The keys to a knowledge economy Gun control, immigration and budget talks: Is there a thaw in Washington?

    By Karen Tumulty and Paul Kane, The Washington Post

    For the first time in a while, members of the two parties — at least some of them — appear to be talking about getting things done, even without the deadline of a manufactured crisis looming. With Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) reaching a deal to expand background checks on firearms purchases, the way appears to have been cleared for the Senate to start debate on gun-control legislation. Although their provision is not as far-reaching as what President Obama proposed after the Newtown massacre in December, he praised it as “common sense.”

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  • Guess Who’s Not Coming to Dinner?

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    While President Obama invites Republicans to his dinner table, his liberal allies are at the gates. On Wednesday night, President Obama dines with GOP senators at the White House. It's the second act in a dinner theater that started with a meal with another group of Republican senators at the Jefferson Hotel a month ago. Obama also made public peace offerings Wednesday to those Republicans: cuts to Social Security and Medicare in his budget that he hopes will entice conservatives to a grand budget bargain. Those measures enraged his liberal allies so much that they marched on the White House gates Tuesday to deliver 2 million petitions calling on him not to make those cuts.

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Apr 10, 2013

  • Obama Unveils Budget Meant to Draw G.O.P to the Table

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    In his fifth annual budget proposal to Congress on Wednesday, President Obama once again has put forward a fiscal mix of investments in infrastructure, education and research with further deficit reduction through tax increases and spending cuts. But for the first time he has included changes to Medicare and Social Security intended to entice Republicans back to the bargaining table.

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  • Obama to unveil $3.77 trillion spending plan

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    President Obama plans Wednesday to unveil a $3.77 trillion spending plan that proposes modest new investments in infrastructure and education, major new taxes for the wealthy and significant reforms aimed at reducing the cost of Social Security and Medicare. As Washington barrels toward another potential showdown over the federal debt limit later this summer, administration officials said the blueprint lays down the president’s bottom-line offer for getting federal borrowing under control.

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  • Reid schedules vote to break GOP hold on gun bills

    By Susan Davis, Gregory Korte and Jackie Kucinich, USA Today

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that beginning Thursday, the Senate will hold votes on gun control — with or without a Republican filibuster. As a bipartisan compromise proved elusive, Reid scheduled a vote to end debate on Thursday. Even if he falls short of the 60 votes needed to end debate, he said he'll make Republicans filibuster the bill until he gets a vote. "It will take a little bit of time, but we're going to do it," he said.

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