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 02, 2013

  • Democrats Spy Opportunities in Ruby-Red South Carolina

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Two nationally known but weakened Republicans are raising Democratic hopes in the ruby-red Republican stronghold of South Carolina.

    Read more
  • SC's Graham Shows Limits of Tea Party Intimidation

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    To gauge the limits of the tea party's ability to frighten re-election-seeking Republicans into a rightward panic, spend time with Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

    Read more

Apr 01, 2013

  • 3 Ways Work Visas Could Still Blow Up the Immigration Bill

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    Let’s start with the positive viewpoint. Big labor (i.e., the AFL-CIO) has agreed, for the first time in its history, to accept a new foreign-worker program for low-skilled jobs such as in construction, food service, and janitorial work—in many ways the mainstay of union membership. The new foreign-worker program is considered an essential component of an immigration bill by business groups and Republicans. Without it, there is no immigration reform, as Republicans made plain last week when they went home for a spring break without a deal in place on "future flow."

    Read more
  • McManus: SCOTUS-induced chaos on gay marriage?

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    If the Supreme Court decides the two gay marriage cases it heard last week the way most court watchers believe it will, expect legal and political chaos. The court seems ready to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, while ruling quite narrowly on California's Proposition 8, allowing a lower-court decision to stand. Such an outcome would make gay marriage legal in California without deciding whether state bans on same-sex marriage are constitutional.

    Read more
  • Can governors save the GOP?

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    The Republican National Committee task force report painted a stark portrait of a party divided between its struggling federal wing and its thriving gubernatorial wing. The GOP’s path to rehabilitation may indeed run through the states, but some of the report’s assertions about the governors’ successes are questionable at best.

    Read more
  • Bloomberg Backlash

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Is Michael Bloomberg helping or hurting his cause? When the New York mayor’s organization, Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns, launched its $12 million advertising campaign to pressure lawmakers into supporting gun control legislation, the negative reaction from the NRA was predictable, but a week after the launch, the reaction from potential allies has also been cool. Senators and staffers working on bipartisan legislation say that Bloomberg’s effort to mobilize voters is less effective because it is also energizing gun control opponents. It’s pressuring lawmakers in the wrong way, too. Any legislator targeted by Bloomberg’s campaign who ultimately supports gun control legislation will look like he or she is being bowled over by a nanny-state mayor who wants to tell their constituents how to live their lives.

    Read more
  • Senate Democrats Are Betting on Family Dynasties to Win Red States

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    She is the daughter of a civil-rights-championing former mayor of New Orleans and the sister of the city’s popular current executive. He is the son of a former senator and governor known for advocating for the rights of taxpayers and the elderly. Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas are two of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection in 2014, but the deep roots of their families in their home states could serve as bulwarks in a Republican-friendly midterm. Carpetbaggers, beware.

    Read more
  • Senators See Hope for Immigration Deal

    With Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News

    Watch more

Mar 29, 2013

  • Analysis: Supreme Court Energizes Gay Rights Even As It Resists

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    After two days of Supreme Court arguments over same-sex marriage, the United States may be left with this irony: While the high court is not likely to alter the constitutional landscape for gays, the justices nevertheless have provided a rallying point for the gay-rights cause.

    Read more
  • Talk of Medicare Changes Could Open Way to Budget Pact

    By Jackie Calmes and Robert Pear, The New York Times

    As they explore possible fiscal deals, President Obama and Congressional Republicans have quietly raised the idea of broad systemic changes to Medicare that could produce significant savings and end the polarizing debate over Republican plans to privatize the insurance program for older Americans.

    Read more
  • Obama Order Establishes Bipartisan Voting Commission

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama signed an executive order on Thursday establishing a bipartisan commission to examine problems of voter access after complaints of long lines at polling stations during last year’s election.

    Read more
  • Cyberattacks Seem Meant to Destroy, Not Just Disrupt

    By David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, The New York Times

    American Express customers trying to gain access to their online accounts Thursday were met with blank screens or an ominous ancient type face. The company confirmed that its Web site had come under attack.

    The assault, which took American Express offline for two hours, was the latest in an intensifying campaign of unusually powerful attacks on American financial institutions that began last September and have taken dozens of them offline intermittently, costing millions of dollars.

    Read more
  • Cuccinelli vs. McAuliffe: Virginia Governor’s Race Holds the Eyes of the Nation

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    You might call it the off-year comeuppance: In every one of Virginia’s past nine gubernatorial contests, the Old Dominion has rejected the party of the president elected only a year before.

    Read more

Mar 28, 2013

  • Analysis: Supreme Court Seems Poised to avoid same-sex marriage tide

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    For nearly four years, proponents of same-sex marriage have been strategically building a test case aimed at convincing the conservative-leaning Supreme Court to declare that gay marriage is a constitutional right. The advocates felt they were ready.

    Read more
  • DOMA Challengers Optimistic About Outcome

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    Same-sex marriage supporters are optimistic this morning about the fate of the Defense of Marriage Act based on what Supreme Court justices said in court on Wednesday.

    Watch more
  • Justices Cast Doubt on Benefits Ban in U.S. Marriage Law

    By Peter Baker and Adam Liptak, The New York Times

    The Supreme Court appeared ready on Wednesday to strike down a central part of a federal law that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as a majority of the justices expressed reservations about the Defense of Marriage Act.

    Read more
  • Politics as 'Unusual' in Washington?

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    Watch more
  • IMF Cites Hidden Price of Energy Subsidies

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    A new study says that reducing energy subsidies would help governments around the world cut budget deficits and go a long way toward heading off climate change.

    Watch more
  • Inching toward Syria

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Military intervention in the Muslim world seems to bring the United States nothing but grief. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya: None looks much like a success story now.

    Yet the Obama administration is edging reluctantly into a civil war in Syria, aiding rebels who are fighting to overthrow the brutal regime of Bashar Assad. And it should: The longer this war goes on, the worse it will be for the U.S. and the Syrians. Already, more than 70,000 Syrians have died; perhaps 4 million have lost their homes. The arguments against intervention are eroding fast.

    Read more

Mar 27, 2013

  • 5 Justices Seem Skeptical of Ban on Benefits to Gay Spouses

    By Peter Baker and Adam Liptak, The New York Times

    A majority of the justices on Wednesday questioned the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, as the Supreme Court took up the volatile issue of same-sex marriage for a second day.

    Read more