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 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.

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  • Obama to Wall Street: This Time be worried

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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  • 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.”

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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  • Government Shutdown Standoff: What Happens Next?

    By Jeff Zeleny, ABC News

    With government departments and agencies officially in shutdown mode this morning, the warring parties on Capitol Hill appear just as entrenched as they did when the standoff started.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has called the Senate back into session at 9:30 a.m., but the Democrats signaled no changes to their strategy of holding firm against any changes to President Obama’s signature health care law.

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  • In Shutdown Blame Game, Democrats and Republicans United: It’s the Other Side’s Fault

    By Matea Gold, Philip Rucker and Ed O’Keefe, Washington Post

    Even before much of the federal government shut down at midnight Monday, the players were already staking out their positions in the battle to come: the fight over who was at fault.

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  • Obama Confident, but Wary of Economic Fallout

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    President Obama expressed confidence on Monday that he was right to defy House Republicans’ demands as the hours ticked away toward a government shutdown. Yet offsetting the bravado at the White House was fear of what October’s unfolding events could mean for the economy.

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  • Shutdown Stalemate Shows Larger GOP Dilemma: How to Be a Governing Party

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    Amid all the maneuvering and hand-wringing ahead of the government shutdown, one thing remained clear: House Republicans are continuing to grapple unsuccessfully with what it means to be a governing party.

    Whatever happens with the crisis in the coming days will not resolve a contradiction that has bedeviled Republicans in the two decades since they swept to power in the House after 40 years in the minority. The GOP won the majority in 1994 and was returned to power in 2010 on a wave of antigovernment sentiment. In the majority, Republicans have often been stymied by the need to produce compromises while satisfying that part of their base that considers compromise as selling out principles.

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  • The Battle Cry of the GOP

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    f the government shuts down, it may be because House Republicans were contemplating the next fight over the debt limit more than the current one over keeping the government running. (Update, Oct. 1: The government has shut down.) Though closing the federal government will affect the economy, a breach of the debt limit could cause economic collapse. Within the GOP, there are two major strains of thought: those who would like to fight now over funding the government and those who would like to fight later over a debt limit increase when the Treasury Department hits its borrowing limit Oct. 17. Each camp’s view is shaped by how seriously its individual members take the warnings of debt limit cataclysm, and how he or she interprets the president’s declaration that he will not negotiate on any matters tied to increasing the debt limit.

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Sep 30, 2013

  • Government Heads Toward Shutdown

    By Janet Hook and Kristina Peterson, Wall Street Journal

    The nation braced for a partial shutdown of the federal government, as time for Congress to pass a budget before a Monday midnight deadline grew perilously short and lawmakers gave no signs Sunday they were moving toward a resolution.

    Leaders of both parties said they wanted to avoid the first federal closure since 1996, but their public appearances seemed aimed more at affixing blame for the impasse.

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