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!

Nov 11, 2013

  • No Longer the Greatest Generation's VA

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Just in time for Veterans Day, the embattled secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki, announced last week that his department had reduced its backlog of overdue disability claims from more than 600,000 in March to about 400,000.

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  • Five Takeaways From a Decade of War

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in a keynote address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies this week, signaled to military commanders that they should assume the across-the-board, automatic spending cuts imposed by sequester over the next decade will remain in place indefinitely. "We do not have the option of ignoring reality, or assuming something will change." Before they decide how to shrink U.S. military forces and allocate scarce resources, however, uniformed leaders will have to decipher the lessons of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how to apply them to the coming era of austerity and global instability.

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  • John Kerry Still Pushing for Iran Nuke Deal After Breakdown

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

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  • Bills Left in Limbo are Often Just Part of the Choreography in Congress

    By Ed O’Keefe and David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post

    At the top of the legislative agenda in the House this week is the expected approval of a bill to address the problems of those people whose health insurance policies are being canceled in the wake of the Affordable Care Act.

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  • Nobody Cares About Mayoral Races

    By Reid Wilson, Washington Post

    In November 2012, 130 million people, about 58.2 percent of the voting-eligible population, turned out to vote for President of the United States. A year later, less than half that percentage showed up to elect new mayors in big cities across the country, like New York, Detroit, Seattle and Cincinnati.

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Nov 08, 2013

  • Obama 'Sorry' for Health Insurance Cancellations

    By Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama apologized Thursday for the fact that some people are losing their current health insurance plans even though he had told Americans they could keep their plans if they wanted to, saying his administration was working on changes to his healthcare law to address the problem.

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  • Obama Seeking Fix for Canceled Policy Holders

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    President Obama, reversing course Thursday, said he is exploring whether executive, administrative changes could allow millions of Americans to keep health insurance temporarily, even if their plans don’t comply with new standards that begin Jan. 1 under the Affordable Care Act.

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  • Rules to Require Equal Coverage for Mental Ills

    By Jackie Calmes and Robert Pear, The New York Times

    The Obama administration on Friday will complete a generation-long effort to require insurers to cover care for mental health and addiction just like physical illnesses when it issues long-awaited regulations defining parity in benefits and treatment.

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  • Senate Votes to Ban Discrimination Against Gay and Transgender Workers

    By Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

    The Senate passed a historic piece of gay rights legislation Thursday that would ban workplace discrimination against gay and transgender employees, another milestone victory for a gay rights movement that has been gaining favor in the courts and electoral politics.

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  • Virginia Is for Losers

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    The argument among Republicans over why they lost the governor’s race in Virginia feels like the debate over "who lost China" in the 1950s. Did Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli lose because he was too conservative? Or, did he lose because the Republican establishment didn't support him? This isn’t just a matter of scapegoating. Every losing campaign has its fights and finger pointing (and the authors of Double Down would like to thank you for that), but sometimes it just stops there. There was no greater meaning to take away from the postgame tussle after Hillary Clinton's primary loss in 2008. This blame game is important, however, because it is really a fight about the Republican Party’s strategy for the future.

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  • Lessons for 2014 and beyond from the 2013 Elections

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    The great thing about elections is that they have a definitive conclusion. People win. People lose. Even so, everyone has a different definition of what the results actually "mean."

    Here's how I see it:

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Nov 07, 2013

  • White House Tries to Reassure Democratic Lawmakers about Obamacare

    By Christi Parsons, Lisa Mascaro and Michael A. Memoli, Los Angeles Times

    Sixteen Senate Democrats met with President Obama on Wednesday to urge that he right his foundering healthcare website, warning of a "crisis of confidence" if he doesn't act quickly.

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  • Despite Fumbles, Obama Defends Health Care Law

    By Jackie Calmes and Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times

    President Obama strongly defended his signature health care law on Wednesday in the largest state that has refused to participate, as rattled Senate Democrats called for changing or delaying key parts of the new health coverage.

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  • Obama Struggling With Fallout From Health Law

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    The troubles hampering the Affordable Care Act may linger before they subside.

    On Wednesday, it was hard to miss the hazard signs.

    More than a dozen Senate Democrats vented frustrations about the administration’s website and communications bungles during a two-hour meeting with President Obama at the White House. The bull session lasted so long, the president was late for a flight to Dallas.

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  • Will Christie's Success Translate in White House Run?

    With John Dickerson, CBS News

    With his re-election as New Jersey governor, Chris Christie is selling a vision of effective government and sending the message that he succeeded where Republicans have struggled. He won one-third of Democrats, a majority of women and 50 percent of Hispanic vote, but it remains to be seen whether he can do that as a presidential candidate. John Dickerson reports.

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  • Virginia Triggers GOP Circular Firing Squad

    By John F. Harris and Anna Palmer, Politico

    The politics of the matter seem virtually beyond dispute: A GOP candidate with more mainstream appeal than Ken Cuccinelli would have beaten Democrat Terry McAuliffe and given Republicans control of the Virginia governorship. All it would have taken was a shift of 27,610 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast.

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Nov 06, 2013

  • Virginia, New Jersey Results Highlight Republican Party’s Divisions, Problems

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    Tuesday’s elections, which produced a resounding Republican victory in New Jersey and a dispiriting loss for the GOP in Virginia, highlighted the challenges ahead for a badly divided party — and will probably intensify an internal debate about how to win back the White House in 2016.

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  • The Establishment's Man

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    When one election booth closes, another one opens. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will secure his re-election today and begin his race for the White House tomorrow. Wherever he falls in the ultimate order of GOP candidates trying to win their party's nomination, he will occupy a familiar historical spot: the untested juggernaut. Christie's advantages for the 2016 presidential race are many: He's a media darling, can raise boatloads of cash, has a plausible nomination story, and he's an exciting and forceful personality. But like other high-expectation candidates, he has also never been tested in the unique crucible of a presidential campaign. Christie is a volatile hothead about to enter a process that makes the most even-tempered fly off the handle. Primaries are irritating, petty, and grueling, and 2016 could be particularly brutish if it turns out to be the grand reckoning in the GOP’s civil war over the soul of the party. As the establishment's man, Christie will face tests a lot more challenging than the Garden State’s Democratic Party.

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  • Chris Christie and Terry McAuliffe: America Loves a Blowhard

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Voters in New Jersey and Virginia elected two larger-than-life figures in Tuesday’s gubernatorial elections: Chris Christie, the famously tough-talking Republican, and Terry McAuliffe, the gregarious former Democratic National Committee chairman. Taken together, it was a great day for blowhards.

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  • Off-Year Races Really Don't Matter, Except When It's McAuliffe and Clinton

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Hillary Clinton supporters are crowing that helping to install Democrat Terry McAuliffe as the next governor of Virginia puts her one battleground state closer to the White House in 2016.

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