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 29, 2013

  • The Redemption of Clintonism

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    It’s no secret that the post-presidential years have been exceedingly kind to Bill Clinton. The man who left the White House in a cloud of scandal, his party so divided that many rushed into the arms of Ralph Nader, is now so beloved that Republicans running for president invoke his example. At the Democratic convention, meanwhile, he threatens to overshadow the nominee. Women want him, men want to be him, as the saying goes; and pretty much everyone in politics wants whatever it is that he has.

    Read more

Oct 28, 2013

  • Why We Need a Witch Hunt

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Washington think tanks, your moment has arrived! is a mess and someone must chronicle exactly what went wrong. The press is trying, of course, but we also must cover the aftermath—the parade of predictable behavior that obscures more than it illuminates. Did you see the hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Committee yesterday? Despite the best efforts of Chairman Fred Upton, between the grandstanding, confused questions, and the witness fog machine, it's a wonder anyone got out alive. Meanwhile, Republicans are pointing fingers, placing blame, and otherwise showing disgust that a program that they have tried to kill is being run so badly. (Perhaps they're jealous that the administration is better at undermining Obamacare than they are.) Administration officials, on the other hand, are caught between covering their backsides, spouting plumes of happy talk, and hiring more people to collect the springs and sprockets from the launch pad where the whole thing went kaput. On Friday, officials in charge of the #techsurge said that would be running smoothly by late November, two months after the launch.

    Read more
  • Why Wednesday will be ‘Another Tricky Day’ on Capitol Hill

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    The House and Senate are back in town together for the first time since lawmakers voted to reopen the federal government, and this is the week that the results of the short-term deal brokered to end the impasse start playing out.

    It’s also the week that could cement good, bad or mixed feelings about the new federal health-care law in the minds of the general public, as the nation’s top health official comes to Capitol Hill to explain what’s gone wrong so far with implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

    Read more
  • Obamacare's Next Hurdle

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    One of these weeks, now that the Obama administration has recruited a SWAT team of computer whizzes, will recover from its shambolic debut and turn into, well, just another website. After all, it's only a website, and websites can be fixed.

    Read more
  • Data Suggests Push to Spy on Merkel Dates to ’02

    By Alison Smale, Melissa Eddy and David E. Sanger, The New York Times

    New details about the monitoring of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone by the National Security Agency further stoked the German government’s anger on Sunday and raised two questions: Why did the United States target her as early as 2002, and why did it take five years for the Obama administration to put a halt to the surveillance?

    Read more
  • A Year After Romney Loss, GOP Woes Run Even Deeper

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    A year after losing a presidential race many Republicans thought was winnable, the party arguably is in worse shape than before. The GOP is struggling to control tensions between its tea party and establishment wings and watching approval ratings sink to record lows.

    Read more

Oct 25, 2013

  • The Populist Egghead

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Sen. Ted Cruz may be the conservative movement's first populist egghead—a grassroots leader who is attacked for being too smart to have common sense. In political theater, you're usually allowed to wear only one of these costumes.

    Read more
  • Democrats Beginning to Support Obamacare Delays

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    A rising tide of Democrats has begun voicing support for easing the deadlines and penalties of the Affordable Care Act, showing the first cracks in party unity against GOP opposition to the health care law.

    Read more
  • Healthcare.Gov’s Problems Aren’t Just with the Uninsured

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    By now just about every single media outlet, comedian, pundit and columnist – left, right and center – has flogged the Obama Administration for their poorly designed and terribly managed health care website. But, what many are missing is the fact that those who are uninsured and struggling to get onto the website (or are giving up all together), aren’t the ones that should worry Democrats the most in 2014. It is the people who are insured, and aren’t going to ever try to log-on to, who are going to determine the political fall-out from this mishap in the midterm elections.

    Read more
  • How and Why NSA Spies on U.S. Allies

    By Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel complained to President Barack Obama in a phone call this week after receiving information that her cellphone may have been monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies. The White House said the U.S. isn’t monitoring and won’t monitor Merkel’s communications — but didn’t address what might have happened in the past.

    Read more
  • Obama Softens Tone on Immigration Reform

    By Brian Bennett and Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    After months of insisting the House should take up the comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate in June, President Obama changed tactics Thursday and said he might consider GOP proposals to overhaul separate parts of the immigration system.

    Read more
  • In Virginia, a Swing State Turns Against the Tea Party

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Surely the greatest irony of the recent federal government shutdown was this: Some furloughed federal workers, finding themselves with time on their hands and presumably angry at what Congress had done to their livelihoods, used their unscheduled leisure to cast their ballots early in the state’s gubernatorial race.

    Read more

Oct 24, 2013

  • Can a President Expect ACA Flaws But Be in the Dark Too?

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    Conservative lawmakers want to know what President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius knew, and when they knew it. Did the administration launch the Oct. 1 Affordable Care Act enrollment phase knowing the Web portal would be flawed? Was their decision to proceed rather than wait the correct one?

    Read more
  • Sharon Alford knows what they have been saying about her state’s junior senator up in Washington. Which is why she was standing here, among about 600 people in a sweltering warehouse, holding a hand-made sign that said, “We the people ♥ Ted Cruz.”

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    The Obama administration, seeking to remedy confusion about the Affordable Care Act's deadlines, said Wednesday that Americans can purchase health insurance through March 31 and avert the law’s penalty, which would be applied to those who are uninsured next year.

    Read more
  • Ted Cruz Returns to Texas as a Hero Who is Reshaping the State Republican Party

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    Sharon Alford knows what they have been saying about her state’s junior senator up in Washington. Which is why she was standing here, among about 600 people in a sweltering warehouse, holding a hand-made sign that said, “We the people ♥ Ted Cruz.”

    Read more
  • Inside the Messy but Moneyed Republican Plan to Neutralize the Tea Party

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    It took a tea party insurrection that disabled the federal government and wrecked the Republican brand, but after months of handwringing, establishment Republicans are preparing to attack ultra-conservative ideologues across red America.

    Read more
  • Trash-Talking the President

    By Todd Purdum, Politico

    No matter how many times you’ve been there, the White House is a pretty awesome place, conferring on every president what “The West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin once called “the single greatest home-court advantage in the modern world.”

    So it would have to rank as the biggest “in your face” any modern president has faced if someone actually said to Barack Obama, in his own workspace — where a constantly shifting array of blown-up photographs of him line the halls and a retinue of helicopters wait at his beck and call — “I cannot even stand to look at you.”



    Read more
  • Partisan Squabbles Raise Questions Over U.S. Global Influence

    The U.S. performance on the global stage has looked a little rocky in the past few weeks.

    The Obama administration had to let Russia take a lead in managing the security challenge in Syria. The United States was also embarrassed when allies like Germany, France and Brazil reacted angrily to the news that the National Security Agency had monitored their leaders' communications.

    Read more
  • France is Latest US Ally Angered by NSA Snooping

    By Deb Riechmann and Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press

    The sweep and scope of National Security Agency snooping abroad forced President Barack Obama once again to hear complaints from a U.S. ally angry about the surveillance net that has sparked an international debate over the limits of American spying.

    Read more

Oct 23, 2013

  • Pricing Feature Can Be Off the Mark

    With Jan Crawford, CBS News

    Watch more