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 19, 2013

  • Commerce Chief Rebecca Blank to Lead University of Wisconsin at Madison

    By Jim Tankersley, The Washington Post

    The acting commerce secretary, Rebecca Blank, will leave her post in July to become chancellor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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Mar 18, 2013

  • Have political parties lost their purpose?

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    The Democrats and Republicans may be worlds apart on most things, but at their headquarters just two blocks away from each other on Capitol Hill, each is confronting the same question: Have political parties lost their purpose?

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  • Young Republicans Seek Bigger Role, Different Message For 2016

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Young Republicans still stung by Mitt Romney's defeat in November are looking for a White House candidate with a message they can run with. For some, that means going back to basics - and leaving divisive social issues behind.

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  • Iraq war: Lessons learned?

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Ten years have passed since the United States invaded Iraq, a decision that almost everyone now ranks as one of the worst foreign policy blunders of our time. Why "almost"? Former President George W. Bush and his top aides still maintain that the invasion was a good idea, even though the premise on which the war was based — that Saddam Hussein had acquired weapons of mass destruction — proved false, and even though the ensuing war claimed the lives of more than 4,500 Americans and an estimated 127,000 Iraqis.

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  • Obama to nominate Thomas E. Perez as Labor secretary

    By Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama plans to nominate the government's top-ranking civil rights lawyer as the new secretary of Labor on Monday, a key position as the administration prepares to take on immigration reform.

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  • Why John McCain Doesn't Matter Anymore

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    Rand Paul’s nearly 13-hour filibuster last week was very much a creature of its moment: The Republican senator from Kentucky captured the imagination of his party as it searches for a new champion—and of the nation as it grapples with this new technology. His GOP colleagues and even some liberal Democrats rushed to the floor to hear Paul conjure a dark dystopia, in which a future president targets Americans in neighborhood cafés with Hellfire missile strikes. “The Fifth Amendment protects you … from a king placing you in the tower, but it should also protect you from a president that might kill you with a drone,” the libertarian intoned.

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Mar 15, 2013

  • Meet the Press

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    The first presidential press conference was a mistake. President Woodrow Wilson's private secretary Joseph Tumulty, advised newspapermen in Washington that at 12:45 p.m. on March 15, 1913, the governor—he still called Wilson by his former title—would "look them in the face and chat with them for a few minutes." The new president expected to greet each man one-by-one to begin a personal relationship of the kind he had with reporters as governor of New Jersey. Up to that point, presidents had either ignored the press or fed them news in small, private, off-the-record meetings. Teddy Roosevelt spoke to reporters while his barber gave him his morning shave. But at the appointed hour, 125 newsmen appeared in Wilson's office. He didn't know what to do. They stood in their sack coats and vests in a semi-circle, four deep waiting for the new man to start pushing around some words.

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  • Congress begins meetings on tax reform

    By Lori Montgomery and Zachary Goldfarb, The Washington Post



    Dueling budgets and three days of political schmoozing by President Obama left Congress on Thursday in broad agreement on at least one idea: The tax code is awful and should be overhauled. But actually fixing it faces long odds given deep divisions between the two parties on the role of taxes in the economy.

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  • Budgets and Congress: Opening bids

    By Greg Ip, The Economist

    When Congress sought to claw back fiscal authority from Richard Nixon in the early 1970s, it came up with its own budget process. The House of Representatives and the Senate would draw up separate budget resolutions and, through negotiation, turn them into a single budget.

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  • At CPAC, Ken Cuccinelli Moves to the Center

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    The careful makeover of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli from culture warrior to Republican front-runner for governor began Thursday in the unlikeliest of places: the nation’s largest conservative confab.

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  • Obama Says Iran More Than a Year Away From Nuclear Weapon

    By Julianna Goldman and Jonathan Ferziger, Bloomberg News

    President Barack Obama said Iran is still “over a year or so” away from building a nuclear weapon and indicated the U.S. is ready to act militarily if sanctions don’t force the regime to abandon its pursuit. Obama, in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 Television ahead of his first trip to Israel as president, said he still wants to pursue diplomacy to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, saying that would provide a “more lasting solution.”

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  • Thousands of American Seniors Tricked by Jamaican Lottery Scam

    By Pierre Thomas, ABC News

    Publisher’s Clearing House commercials that show average citizens winning giant checks can be seen on almost any channel, any time of day. But now Jamaican scammers are using the good name of Publisher’s Clearing House and other major prize companies to dupe thousands of senior citizens out of their life savings.

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Mar 14, 2013

  • Does Conservative Political Action Conference matter anymore?

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    From its founding four decades ago, the Conservative Political Action Conference, set to begin Thursday in Washington, has come to function as an annual gut check for the political right.

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  • Democrats slow to back Obama on Medicare and Social Security cuts

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    On one side of the Capitol, President Obama sought to convince House Republicans on Wednesday that he is serious about reining in the rising cost of federal health and retirement programs.

    But on the other side of the Capitol, Senate Democrats rolled out a 10-year spending plan that sent a different message: Not so fast.

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  • Senate Democrats release first budget in four years

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Senate Democrats released a budget resolution Wednesday for a 10-year fiscal vision that would trim the deficit and protect entitlement programs. It calls for more spending for roads and schools and for higher taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans to protect middle-class earners.

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  • America's Budget Battle Continues

    With John Harwood, CNBC and The New York Times

  • Sadder but wiser pols

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama took a posse of Republican senators to dinner last week, and this week he's giving Congress the unusual courtesy of no fewer than four presidential visits to Capitol Hill.

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  • Mexico's Next Challenge: More Energy Independence

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal


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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