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!

Sep 27, 2013

  • Why Do We Even Have a Debt Ceiling?

    With Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

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  • Cruz, Corker Clash on Senate Floor

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    The months-long divide in ideology and tactics splintering Senate Republicans was laid bare on the Senate floor Thursday in an incredibly rare, heated exchange between three senators.

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  • Senate to Advance Stopgap Bill

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    The Senate is on track to approve Friday a stopgap spending bill that sets Congress up for a weekend of partisan jockeying to resolve a shutdown threat before Monday's deadline.

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  • The Medium Is (Most of) the Message

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    On Oct. 1 Americans will begin to sign up for health care plans as part of the Affordable Care Act. Despite all the efforts to sell Obamacare, a majority of Americans are still fearing the day. According to the latest CBS News/New York Times poll, 51 percent of Americans disapprove of the health care law and only 39 percent approve of it. Seventy-nine percent believe implementation will either not affect them or leave them worse off. On the eve of this long-fought-over moment—the day Obamacare takes affect—President Obama’s best sales tool may come down to a website:

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  • Positive Spin on Iran Nuclear Talks Faces Test Next Month

    By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan & Kambiz Foroohar, Bloomberg News

    Foreign ministers from the U.S. and five other powers met with Iran’s top diplomat to see whether the Islamic Republic’s new administration is serious about resolving disputes over its nuclear program.

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  • NSA Chief Deflects Tracking Questions

    By Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press

    The nation’s top intelligence official sidestepped questions Thursday from a senator about whether the National Security Agency has ever used Americans’ cellphone signals to collect information on their whereabouts that would allow tracking of the movements of individual callers.

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Sep 26, 2013

  • House Republicans Explore Strategy to Avoid Federal Government Shutdown

    By Lori Montgomery and Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post

    With federal agencies set to close their doors in five days, House Republicans began exploring a potential detour on the path to a shutdown: shifting the fight over President Obama’s health-care law to a separate bill that would raise the nation's debt limit.

    If it works, the strategy could clear the way for the House to approve a simple measure to keep the government open into the new fiscal year, which will begin Tuesday, without hotly contested provisions to defund the Affordable Care Act.

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  • What the Ted Cruz Spectacle is All About

    This isn't the idealism of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

    It isn't as dark as "House of Cards," either.

    So how about settling on something lighter, like say, "Animal House," in which the dean famously says, "The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot is me."

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  • How Eight Lives Would Be Affected By the Health Law

    By Sarah Kliff, Sandhya Somashekhar, Lena H. Sun and Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, he declared that "health-care reform is no longer an unmet promise. It is the law of the land." Now, we get to see whether it works. Starting Oct. 1, millions of Americans who lack medical insurance or buy their own coverage will have their first chance to sign up for health insurance under Obamacare.

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  • Justice Department Pushes New Thinking On Kids And Crime

    By Carrie Johnson, NPR

    For a man who spent the bulk of his career as a public defender, Robert Listenbee's new role walking around the halls of the U.S. Justice Department may not be the most comfortable fit.

    But Listenbee, who became earlier this year, says his transition has been smooth. And besides, he says, he couldn't resist the "extraordinary opportunity."

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  • Another Clinton presidential campaign?

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    So, will Hillary Rodham Clinton run for president?

    In an interview with New York Magazine published this week, the former secretary of State acknowledged that she's wrestling with the idea but still needs time "to weigh what the factors are" before "making a decision one way or the other."

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Sep 25, 2013

  • After 20-Plus Hours, Sen. Cruz Still Talking in an Effort to Defeat Obamacare

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) sustained a marathon talking attack on President Obama’s health-care law overnight and well into Wednesday morning — a feat of stamina that likely will complicate House GOP efforts to pass a funding bill aimed at averting a looming government shutdown.

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  • Debt Ceiling Hits Oct. 17, Treasury Secretary Says

    By Jeff Zeleny, ABC News

    Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said today the nation will hit its borrowing limit on Oct. 17, when the treasury will have less than $30 billion to pay outstanding debts.

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  • Barack and Bill Talk Up Health Care Law

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    There were bags under his eyes Tuesday. And when recalling the ins and outs of health care reform battles, he looked warily at the president seated across from him.

    We’re not talking about Bill Clinton. We’re talking about Barack Obama, gripping a wireless mic, swallowed in a white, bouncy armchair on a stage with a sweeping backdrop that read “Clinton Global Initiative.”

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  • For Obama, an Evolving Doctrine on Foreign Policy

    By David E. Sanger, The New York Times

    For five years, President Obama has publicly struggled with the question of when America is willing to act as the world’s policeman, and when he will insist that others take the lead, or at least share the risks, costs and resentments it engenders.

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  • The Fall of the Heritage Foundation and the Death of Republican Ideas

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    During the 1980 election, an up-and-coming Washington think tank called the Heritage Foundation undertook a massive task: to examine the federal government from top to bottom and produce a detailed, practical conservative policy vision.

    The result, called Mandate for Leadership, epitomized the intellectual ambition of the then-rising conservative movement. Its 20 volumes, totaling more than 3,000 pages, included such proposals as income-tax cuts, inner-city “enterprise zones,” a presidential line-item veto, and a new Air Force bomber.

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Sep 24, 2013

  • Budget Battle Blame

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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  • Fighting Continues for Fourth Day at Kenyan Mall

    By Nicholas Kulish, Jeffrey Gettleman, and Alan Cowell, The New York Times

    A bloody standoff at a Kenyan shopping mall entered its fourth confused day on Tuesday as government forces said they were picking off the militants who stormed it, while a group claiming to be connected to the attackers said militants inside the mall were still resisting the government assault.

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  • Terror Group Al Shabaab Pushed to Recruit Americans

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    Al Shabaab was blamed for two bombings in the capital of Uganda two years ago that killed 75 people, and attacks against the government of Somalia. The group has tried to entice westerners to join, but the Somali-American community has made efforts to stop their recruitment.

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  • Iran’s UN Diplomacy Leaves Hard Work on a Nuclear Deal

    By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Bloomberg News

    With international talks on Iran’s disputed nuclear weapons program now set to resume, world powers will test whether the country is moderating its policies or merely its rhetoric.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet in New York with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Sept. 26 in the highest-level formal talks between the two nations since before Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, joined by their counterparts from five other powers and Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief. Iran also will participate in nuclear negotiations in Geneva in mid-October.

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