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 10, 2013

  • Obama's Army Outmaneuvered by the NRA

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Although the first votes on gun -control legislation have yet to be cast, by some measures the National Rifle Association has already won. Obama’s ambitious plans to ban assault weapons and limit magazine capacities are off the table, while the NRA suggested it could support the most likely outcome -- expanded background checks -- as recently as 1999. The NRA claims that the president’s efforts have triggered a fundraising surge and boosted its membership from 4 million to nearly 5 million. Members of Congress who seemed open to legislation after the shooting deaths of 20 Connecticut schoolchildren are still on the fence, while Republicans are threatening a filibuster.

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  • It’s Always Campaign Season

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Sen. Mitch McConnell is the least likely politician to get caught in a secret recording discussing the dark arts of campaigning. He usually says that stuff on the record. The four-term senator speaks openly about his political motivations. You may remember that in October 2010, McConnell told Major Garrett, then of National Journal, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

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  • ‘Obama phones’ subsidy program draws new scrutiny on the Hill

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    When someone in the Washington area begins to type the president’s last name into the search box of Google’s home page, the top three terms it suggests as the most popular selections are Obama, Obamacare and . . . Obama phone.  Obama phone? A hotline, maybe, to the Oval Office?

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Apr 09, 2013

  • Newtown Families Help Obama Press for Gun Reform

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

    President Obama sought Monday to use the emotional pull of the Newtown school massacre to galvanize public support for his drive to pass stricter gun control measures, even as more than a dozen Republican senators promised to filibuster to block such votes.

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  • Expanded Immigration Would Reduce the Federal Deficit, Some Conservatives Say

    By Jim Tankersley, The Washington Post

    Conservative champions of opening the flow of legal immigration into the United States are invoking economics in hopes of winning Republican lawmakers’ support — specifically, the idea that more immigration will increase growth and cut the federal budget 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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  • Sen. Max Baucus Moves to Reshape Tax Code

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    Last month, Sen. Max Baucus summoned members of the Senate Finance Committee to a closed-door meeting to discuss the first full-scale rewrite of the 5,600-page U.S. tax code in more than 25 years.

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  • Early Line for 2016 Shows a Vice President Who’s Not the Favorite

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. showed up late at an event last week, saying he was delayed because “the president keeps those meetings going longer.” But he walked into a Hillary Clinton crowd. Outside, supporters hoisted signs urging her to run for president. Inside, she was greeted as a hero.

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Apr 08, 2013

  • Spring Break Is Over!

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    For the last few years politicians in Washington have been stuck in traffic—frustrated, honking, and nursing revenge fantasies. That will change next week when Congress returns from spring break. Immigration reform, gun control legislation, and a big budget deal are all on the agenda. Gridlock is going to turn into Cannonball Run—high-stakes, high-speed, and full of oddball characters taking the lead. There may be an extravagant pile-up, but the spring and summer offer a change from the cramped fussiness of going from one budget crisis to the next. If nothing else, the legislative process in Washington is going to get a lot more interesting.

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  • Vanishing Workforce Weighs on Growth

    By Jim Tankersley, The Washington Post

    Put out an all-points bulletin: Millions of Americans have gone missing from the workforce.

    Every month that those would-be workers are gone raises the odds that they might never come back, dimming the prospects for future economic growth.

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  • Obama Must Walk Fine Line as Congress Takes Up Agenda

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    The days ahead could be decisive ones for the main pieces of President Obama’s second-term agenda: long-range deficit reduction, gun safety and changes to immigration law.

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  • Let's Talk GOP and Fantasy Politics

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Almost four years ago, long before the 2012 presidential campaign heated up, CNN took a poll to learn who Republicans might choose as their party's next nominee. There were two clear front-runners: former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. The former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, limped in third.

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  • U.S. Designs a Korea Response Proportional to the Provocation

    By David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker, The New York Times

    As North Korea hints at new military provocations in the coming days, the United States and South Korea have drawn up plans to respond more forcefully than in the recent past, but in a limited way intended to prevent an escalation to broader war.

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  • A Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood

    By Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times

    Nek Muhammad knew he was being followed.

    On a hot day in June 2004, the Pashtun tribesman was lounging inside a mud compound in South Waziristan, speaking by satellite phone to one of the many reporters who regularly interviewed him on how he had fought and humbled Pakistan’s army in the country’s western mountains. He asked one of his followers about the strange, metallic bird hovering above him.

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Apr 05, 2013

  • Obama Budget to Include Cuts to Programs in Hopes of Deal

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    President Obama next week will take the political risk of formally proposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare in his annual budget in an effort to demonstrate his willingness to compromise with Republicans and revive prospects for a long-term deficit-reduction deal, administration officials say.

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  • Party Intransigence Dims Hopes For 'Grand Bargain'

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    The bipartisan cease-fire that kept the government running this spring gave birth to hopeful talk , among pundits and some senators, at least , of a much larger "grand bargain" that would reduce the federal deficit for years.

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  • Obama’s Voluntary 5% Pay Cut Joined by Lew, Kerry, Holder

    By Julianna Goldman & Phil Mattingly, Bloomberg News

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew and Attorney General Eric Holder today followed President Barack Obama’s decision to refuse a portion of his salary to show solidarity with furloughed government workers.

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  • The Man Who Could Put Climate Change on the Agenda

    By Coral Davenport, National Journal

    Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff, is best known for two things: his national security chops—he had key roles on the White House National Security Council—and the high regard in which he’s held by President Obama. McDonough has been part of Obama’s inner circle for nearly a decade, and the president has called his new chief of staff one of his “closest and most trusted advisers.”

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  • Will Health Care Be Sleeper Issue Of 2014?

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    Washington is currently consumed with guns and immigration, but come 2014 it’s possible that health care will be the more all-consuming issue, and that has lots of Democrats very worried.

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  • Obama’s Remarks About California’s Attorney General Raise Eyebrows

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama headed out to California with a simple goal: to collect a few million dollars for Democrats. By the time Air Force One departed the state, however, he left behind a debate about whether he tripped over the line of political correctness.

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