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!

May 09, 2013

  • Economists See Deficit Emphasis as Impeding Recovery

    By Jackie Calmes and Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times

    The nation’s unemployment rate would probably be nearly a point lower, roughly 6.5 percent, and economic growth almost two points higher this year if Washington had not cut spending and raised taxes as it has since 2011, according to private-sector and government economists.

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  • Deficit-Cutting: Not If, But When

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

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  • The Enemy Within

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    Every Friday, on a grassy parade ground ringed by vintage warplanes, a freshly minted class of airmen takes the oath of duty and is officially “welcomed into the blue.” Young men and women who arrived at basic training as confused and frightened individuals seven weeks earlier march by the reviewing stand in precise formation. Nowhere is the U.S. military’s unique alchemy—turning unformed young citizens into a warrior fraternity—on clearer display.

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  • Inside The American Crossroads And Koch Post-Mortems

    By Reid Wilson, National Journal's Hotline

    At a ritzy California hotel two weeks ago, donors who had spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to defeat President Obama watched presentations from strategists tasked with illustrating why they had failed. The gathering had the atmosphere of a corporate retreat, where only the presenters wore suits. Everyone had a name tag, some pinned to T-shirts that read: "I'm a Koch Brother."

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May 08, 2013

  • Paris, South Carolina

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Mark Sanford's long walk has ended. From the South Carolina governor's office to the Appalachian Trail to Argentina and back, he has returned to win a seat in the House of Representatives. Political victory has redemptive powers and so Sanford now has a chance to write a new chapter in his personal history. Whatever may become of him in Washington, he has already changed the shape of Republican politics in South Carolina. The state that is home to Bob Jones University and where residents still resist removing the Confederate flag from over the state house is now defining the new standard for forgiving personal indiscretions.

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  • Ex-South Carolina Governor Sanford Beats Colbert Busch in Special House Election

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    The conservative electorate of South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District voted Tuesday to resurrect the political career of disgraced former governor Mark Sanford (R) by returning him to his former House seat.

    Sanford’s special-election race against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, 58, a businesswoman and first-time candidate, took twists nearly right up to the last moments. But in the end, he cruised to an easy victory, winning 54 percent of the vote to Colbert Busch’s 45 percent.

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  • Internet Sales Tax Faces Hurdles in GOP House

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    A bill to allow states to collect taxes from online sales cruised through the Senate Monday with bipartisan support, but the legislation faces a slower, more complicated path through the GOP-controlled House.

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  • May Is Make-or-Break Month for Congress, Obama

    By Alexis Simendinger and Caitlin Huey-Burns, Real Clear Politics

    The president’s second term began less than four months ago, and 2013 may still feel fresh with promise, but this month is zero hour for Congress and the White House: Before May is over, they will decide if the year goes out with a bang or a whimper.

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  • Obama's Plan to Avoid Lame-Duckery

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    For the last two months, President Obama has been mired in Washington's inside game, caught up in backroom congressional politics as he tried unsuccessfully to pass a bill on gun control and nudge Republican senators toward compromise on the budget.

    But do his losses mean, as some pundits suggest, that, four months into his second term, the president is already a lame duck?

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May 07, 2013

  • New Worries for Democrats on Health Law

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    As the administration struggles to put in place the final, complex piece of President Obama’s signature health care law, an endeavor on a scale not seen since Medicare’s creation nearly a half-century ago, Democrats are worried that major snags will be exploited by Republicans in next year’s midterm elections.

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  • Some Republicans Signal Willingness to Revive Gun Debate

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    The push for stricter gun laws may return to the forefront of the congressional agenda in the coming weeks as at least two Republican senators who voted against a bipartisan proposal to expand the national gun background check system have approached Democrats about possibly restarting debate on the issue, according to senior Senate aides familiar with the talks

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  • What’s Changed in the Fight for New Gun Laws

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    Gun-control groups scored modest public relations victories last week as they engaged senators of both parties who voted against a bipartisan plan to expand the national gun background-check system. Activists pushed senators to explain their votes in public settings in their home states, part of a new campaign to keep the issue of gun-control alive as long as necessary — which could mean the midterm elections in 2014.

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  • The Heritage Foundation’s Argument on Immigration is Really About High School

    By Jim Tankersley, The Washington Post

    The Heritage Foundation is out with a new report contending that illegal immigration imposes huge costs on U.S. taxpayers. You could easily read it as a treatise on Why Every American Kid Should Finish High School (And Then Keep Going).

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  • U.S. Turns Up Heat On Costly Commercial Cyber Theft In China

    By Tom Gjelten, NPR

    American companies that do business with China make good money. They also lose a lot of money there to cyberthieves, who routinely hack into the computers of the U.S. firms and steal their trade and technology secrets.

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  • U.S. Directly Blames China’s Military for Cyberattacks

    By David Sanger, The New York Times

    The Obama administration on Monday explicitly accused China’s military of mounting attacks on American government computer systems and defense contractors, saying one motive could be to map “military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis.”

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  • Pentagon Assault Officer Charged With Sexual Battery

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    The man in charge of Air Force sexual-assault prevention and response was arrested.


May 06, 2013

  • Syria Says Alleged Israeli Attack 'Opens Door to All Possibilities'

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    Syria's information minister warns of retaliation after air strikes destroyed military targets.

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  • Attacks Fuel Debate Over U.S.-Led Effort

    By David Sanger, The New York Times

    The apparent ease with which Israel struck missile sites and, by Syrian accounts, a major military research center near Damascus in recent days has stoked debate in Washington about whether American-led airstrikes are the logical next step to cripple President Bashar al-Assad’s ability to counter the rebel forces or use chemical weapons.

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  • GOP Rifts Exposed in South Carolina

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    The challenges facing the Republican Party as it heads into the elections of 2014 and 2016 were on stark display here this weekend as South Carolina Republicans gathered for their annual convention, an event that revealed a party in the throes of some internal strife.

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  • America's Jobs Report: Not Swooning, Not Soaring

    By Greg Ip, The Economist

    WILL America be fourth time lucky? A better-than-expected jobs report for April has soothed fears that the economy was swooning, as it has in the spring or summer of each of the last three years. The relief sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average over 15,000 and the S&P 500 over 1,600 for the first time.

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