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!

Oct 07, 2013

  • The Unsettled Healthcare Law

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Ever since Obamacare's stormy passage in early 2011, Democrats have been waiting anxiously for the program to go into effect and hoping that a dose of reality would calm the partisan battles over the health insurance plan. Once everything was up and running, they hoped, skeptical Americans would see that Obamacare was a good idea all along — and reward the party that brought it to them.

    Read more

Oct 04, 2013

  • GOP Lawmakers: Boehner Tells Colleagues He Will Avoid a Default on Federal Debt

    By Lori Montgomery and Ed O’Keefe, Washington Post

    With the government shuttered and a deadline for raising the debt limit just two weeks off, anxious Republicans began steering the party away from a dead-end debate about the health-care law and toward discussion of a broader deal to reduce the nation’s debt.

    Read more
  • Extreme Pragmatism

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Right now, roughly 30 House Republicans are driving the bus in Washington. Along with Sen. Ted Cruz, they have been the "titanium backbone," as Rep. Marsha Blackburn likes to call it, in the effort to defund Obamacare. They have stood their ground and helped bring the government to a halt. This is either an act of lunacy or a shining example of standing for conservative principle.

    Read more
  • Low Ratings for President, Congress and Consumer Confidence Make This Shutdown Different From Rest

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    While a government shut-down is not new, it is the first time where we've seen a combination of low presidential approval, low consumer confidence and low approval ratings of Congress. With no one starting in a good position, it becomes harder to predict just how this plays out politically over the next few weeks - or even into 2014. More importantly, with a debt ceiling fight right around the corner, the already fragile consumer confidence index could see a serious slip that will have even more significant consequences for 2014.

    Read more
  • Shutdown Could Diminish GOP Hopes of Winning Senate

    By Karen Tumulty and Paul Kane, Washington Post

    The political fallout from the partial government shutdown does not appear likely to affect the House Republicans who instigated it, given that so many of them come from deeply conservative districts where their constituents cheered the confrontation with President Obama.

    But others in the GOP are worried. Party veterans say they are increasingly concerned that a prolonged standoff in Washington could damage their prospects for winning back the Senate in 2014.


    Read more
  • Senator: Capitol Police Working Without Pay Is ‘A National Disgrace’

    By Jeff Zeleny and Michael Falcone, ABC News

    Capitol Police officers who sprang into action on Thursday during a shooting near the U.S. Capitol are among the hundreds of thousands of government employees being forced to work without pay during the shutdown.

    They are deemed essential personnel, but will not be paid until after the budget impasse is resolved.

    Read more

Oct 03, 2013

  • Why Washington Fails

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    When we get in one of these budget fixes, Washington veterans, community fathers, Boy Scout troop leaders, and sensible people across the land wonder why a few adults can't just get into a room and hash out their differences. Everyone knows what the solutions are. There are a series of hotels in Washington that stay in business by hosting think-tank events where the same set of solutions are traded year after year. If only the politicians could get out of the daily political grinder, both sides could hammer out an agreement.

    Read more
  • Obama to Wall Street: This Time be worried

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    Watch more
  • D.C Republicans Hate Obamacare, but GOP Governors Have Learned to Love It

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Republicans in Congress, you may have heard, are determined to stop Obamacare. So determined are some of them that they allowed the federal government to shut down when their efforts to stop the Affordable Care Act failed. But some Republican governors have a different view: Increasingly, they’re turning to a controversial part of Obamacare to save them politically.

    Read more
  • Bush Begat the Tea Party; Obama Can't Deal With It

    By Michael Hirsh and Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    The government is closed.

    There's really no better way to illustrate the pervasive dysfunction that for years now has gripped Washington. After years of shutdown threats, debt-ceiling standoffs, filibusters, dead-end legislation, and endless posturing—on the floor, on cable news, on talk radio, on Twitter—both sides have succeeded, finally, in bringing things to a crashing halt.

    Read more
  • Shutdown Won’t Hit the Economy Right Away, But When it Does, Here’s What That Will Look Like

    By Jim Tankersley and Antonio Olivo, Washington Post

    If you don’t work for the federal government, evidence suggests you’re not yet feeling a big economic hit from this week’s shutdown. But the longer it persists, the more the shutdown will reverberate across the economy, dampening consumer spending, gumming up the housing market and unleashing a new wave of disgruntled job seekers.

    Read more
  • NSA Chief Admits Testing US Cellphone Tracking

    By Kimberly Dozier and Stephen Braun, Associated Press

    National Security Agency chief Gen. Keith Alexander revealed Wednesday that his spy agency once tested whether it could track Americans' cellphone locations, in addition to its practice of sweeping broad information about calls made.

    Read more

Oct 02, 2013

  • Washington Braces for Prolonged Government Shutdown

    By Karen Tumulty and Lori Montgomery, Washington Post

    Lawmakers and the White House dug in Tuesday for a long fight as the first federal government shutdown in nearly two decades showed no signs of breaking, increasing the likelihood it will become entangled in an even larger battle over the Treasury's ability to pay the government's bills.

    Read more
  • Obama’s Price of Victory

    By Todd S. Purdum, Politico

    Twenty years ago, when he was trying to persuade Bill and Hillary Clinton that universal health care was a politically unrealistic goal, the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan repeated one insistent warning: Sweeping, historic laws don’t pass barely. “They pass 70-to-30,’’ he said, “or they fail.”

    Read more
  • Government Shutdown: Capital Digs In for Long Haul

    By Janet Hook, Kristina Peterson and Carol E. Lee, Wall Street Journal

    Lawmakers and the White House dug in Tuesday for a long fight as the first federal government shutdown in nearly two decades showed no signs of breaking, increasing the likelihood it will become entangled in an even larger battle over the Treasury's ability to pay the government's bills.

    Read more
  • Obama Worries Impasse Risks Default

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    How long can this go on?

    Days, weeks … perhaps into a debt-ceiling standoff just 16 days away … or even beyond All Hallows Eve?

    No one seemed to know Tuesday, at least no one in the hollowed-out White House.

    Read more
  • Why the Shutdown Looks So Bad for the GOP

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    During the Great Polling Disconnect of 2012, the Obama campaign, the press, and a number of pollsters thought that Barack Obama would win his second presidential election. Republicans and the Romney campaign were equally convinced the polls were flawed: The electorate would behave differently on Election Day.

    Read more
  • Some in GOP Not Heeding Old Big Business Allies

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Having failed to persuade their traditional Republican allies in Congress to avert a government shutdown, business leaders fear bigger problems ahead, and they're taking sides with a Democratic president whose health care and regulatory agenda they have vigorously opposed.

    Read more
  • The Night the GOP Cracked Up

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Monday was a frantic day on Capitol Hill, though all the activity ultimately came to nought: A flurry of last-minute legislative feints failed to prevent the government from shutting down at midnight. But in the process, House Republicans' total crackup was on full, public display.

    Read more

Oct 01, 2013

  • Senate Kills House Idea for Budget Talks Amid Shutdown

    Susan Davis and Catalina Camia, USA Today

    Hours after the first government shutdown began, the Senate on Tuesday rejected the House's request to hold formal talks on a stopgap spending bill that would end the stalemate.

    Read more