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 08, 2013

  • 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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  • New Sanctions on North Korea Pass in Unified U.N. Vote

    By David E. Sanger and Rick Gladstone, The New York Times

    Ignoring threats of retaliation, the United Nations Security Council ordered new economic sanctions against North Korea on Thursday for its third nuclear test last month, unanimously approving a resolution that the United States negotiated with China, the North’s greatest protector.

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  • Throwback

    By Todd S. Purdum, Vanity Fair

    In today’s dysfunctional Washington, there’s a sentimental yearning for a time when politicians of both parties sat in the same room, drank bourbon, and made deals. This Saturday’s annual Gridiron Club Dinner is one of the last such occasions, and President Obama has actually agreed to attend it, for just the second time in his presidency. Is there anything he could say that might change the capital’s sour tone, if only for a moment?

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Mar 07, 2013

  • Dinner With Barack: Who Was on the GOP List, and Why

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    To remedy America’s long-term fiscal problems, President Obama has tried cajoling Senate Republicans, working around them, and then campaigning full-out against them. Wednesday night he tried to cook up a coalition of the willing over a warm meal and some wine.

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  • Congress to Kick Off Budget Debate Next Week

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    The debate that budget hawks have been waiting for kicks off in Washington next week when House Republicans and Senate Democrats unveil competing blueprints on the size and reach of the federal government.

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  • Paul Ryan, Patty Murray Hold the Keys to Any Budget Deal

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    After two years of anxious, high-wire negotiations over the federal budget, an exhausted Washington is about to hand the mess back over to the experts: the chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees.

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  • Death of the Campaign Book

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Whether Jeb Bush's new book can influence the debate over immigration policy remains to be seen, but the publication of Immigration Wars has quickened the death of the campaign book. A grateful nation thanks him. Books written by people thinking about becoming president are nearly as weightless as the press release, but because they take the shape of a respected medium, they claim more attention. Using a venerable form to peddle mush fools voters, ties down critics, and enlists candidates in a protracted exercise to become even less forthcoming than they might otherwise be.

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  • Here Come the Culture Wars: Court Hears Cases on Affirmative Action and Gay Marriage

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    The Supreme Court is weighing major decisions on gay marriage and race that could roil the 2014 election beyond the debates in Washington over the federal budget, immigration and gun control.

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  • Chavez's Death Will Have Ramifications For Cuba

    With Tom Gjelten and Renee Montgne, NPR

    The death of President Hugo Chavez could mean as much for Cuba as it will for Venezuela. The Chavez government has heavily subsidized Cuba.

    Listen here

Mar 06, 2013

  • GOP's anti-tax focus trips Dems in budget battle

    By Charles Babington, AP

    Congressional Republicans' unyielding stand against income tax increases has caught President Barack Obama and his allies off guard, resulting in the spending-cuts-only approach to deficit reduction that Democrats most wanted to avoid.

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  • Come Together Now

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Sequestration represents a kind of excellence in failure. Lawmakers in Washington couldn’t even design a sword of Damocles correctly. This is depressing, and suggests even the most basic tasks are beyond the reach of our lawmakers. As a result, a lot of people appear particularly glum, as if they gave up optimism for Lent. But what if you decided to embrace hope during the Easter season? Is there any evidence that there could be a rebirth of common sense and progress?

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  • Seeking a Budget Deal, Obama Reaches Out to Republican Rank and File

    By Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman, Washington Post

    After more than two years of failed negotiations with GOP leaders, President Obama is for the first time reaching out directly to rank-and-file Republicans who have expressed a willingness to strike a far-reaching budget deal that includes higher taxes.

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  • Congress may add flexibility to sequester cuts

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Lawmakers may use a must-pass funding bill as a vehicle to inject more flexibility into the way across-the-board spending cuts are implemented since the reductions kicked in last Friday.

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  • John Kerry Concedes Iran Is Moving Closer to Possessing Nuclear Weapon

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

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  • Rivalries And Infighting Could Follow In Wake Of Chavez's Death

    By Tom Gjelten and Audie Cornish, NPR

    Audie Cornish talks to Tom Gjelten about what's next for Venezuela after President Hugo Chavez's death. He died Tuesday at the age of 58.

    Listen here
  • The Mighty Jeb Bush Comes Down to Earth

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    What has gotten into Jeb Bush?

    As two-term governor of Florida, he prided himself on “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” or “BHAGs,” such as pushing private-school vouchers for kids in failing public schools and doing away with affirmative action in state contracts and university admissions. He didn’t balk at taking unpopular positions against smaller class sizes or in favor of government intervention to prolong the life of a severely brain-damaged woman. Bush didn’t shy from defying his party, either, coming out in favor of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants and rejecting Republican antitax dogma. He was bold, principled, and infuriating, inspiring near adulation from a Republican establishment weary of trying to appease the conservative grassroots. That he passed up opportunities to run for higher office and devoted himself to an educational think tank only enhanced his stature as policy-obsessed statesman in a world of political hacks.

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Mar 05, 2013

  • Obama, Congress Take Wait-and-Blame Approach on Budget

    By Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News

    President Barack Obama and lawmakers in Congress are taking a wait-and-blame approach as automatic, across-the-board spending cuts begin to trickle through the federal government -- cuts that weren’t intended to take effect.

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  • Republican Goal to Balance Budget Could Mean Deep Cuts to Health Programs

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    Anxiety is rising among House Republicans about a strategy of appeasement toward fiscal hard-liners that could require them to embrace not only the sequester but also sharp new cuts to federal health and retirement programs.

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  • John Kerry Blasts Russia for Aiding Syrian Government

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

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  • Jeb Bush's Poorly Timed Flip -Flop on Immigration

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s new book was aimed at nudging a reluctant Republican Party toward reforms that would allow illegal immigrants to live and work without fear of deportation.

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