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 23, 2013

  • Poof Goes the Middle Class

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Imagine a future in which real wages for most workers decline year after year; a future in which middle-class jobs that disappeared in the Great Recession won't be coming back; a future in which young Americans either squeeze into an increasingly wealthy elite or tumble to the bottom, with fewer and fewer in what we once called the middle class.

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  • Obama’s Uncertain Path Amid Syria Bloodshed

    Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times

    With rebel forces in Syria in retreat and the Obama administration’s policy toward the war-ravaged country in disarray, Secretary of State John Kerry arrived at the White House Situation Room one day in June with a document bearing a warning. President Bashar al-Assad of Syria had used chemical weapons against his people, the document said, and if the United States did not “impose consequences,” Mr. Assad would see it as a “green light for continued CW use.”

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  • Is Immigration Really Dead in the House?

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, declared immigration reform dead, so why aren’t the opponents of a big overhaul pouring the champagne?

    Because they know better than anyone that the issue could be resurrected at any time.

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  • 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.

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Oct 22, 2013

  • Error Message

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    An IT problem has never escalated faster than the president's Rose Garden speech Monday addressing the problems with He could no longer outsource responding to user complaints. At first, the White House had said the headaches signing people up for health care coverage were just technical glitches, but now the sheer number of those glitches defies that explanation. Reporting about deeper systemic problems suggest that fixes will not come quickly. As my colleague Matthew Yglesias explains, adding more bodies to the problem adds more complexity, which may exacerbate the problem. It's hard to untangle Christmas lights by committee.

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  • Obama in Full Bore Damage Control

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    There’s a reason why President Obama and fellow Democrats insist the Affordable Care Act is more than a website.

    A marginally unpopular law now offers in some states a hugely confusing and frustrating online enrollment experience that won’t be fixed tomorrow and has jeopardized the government’s second chance to make a first impression.

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  • Democrats Reach Out to Business After Shutdown

    By Janet Hook, Wall Street Journal

    At a time when the business community’s ties to congressional Republicans have been strained by recent fiscal crises, Democratic political operatives are trying to move into the breach.

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  • In Texas, Ted Cruz Has Allies

    By Reid Wilson, Washington Post

    When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and his Tea Party allies took control of congressional Republicans’ legislative strategy last month in an ultimately failed effort to defund the Affordable Care Act, veteran Republicans worried their party had been commandeered by a small faction of extremists.

    Those who worry over Cruz’s influence, however, would do well to avoid his home state. A little more than a year after Cruz upset establishment favorite David Dewhurst, the Texas lieutenant governor, in his bid to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R), the entire Texas Republican Party resembles the take-no-prisoners, damn-the-torpedoes approach Cruz has taken in Washington.

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  • Poll: Major Damage to GOP After Shutdown, and Broad Dissatisfaction with Government

    By Dan Balz and Scott Clement, Washington Post

    The budget confrontation that led to a partial government shutdown dealt a major blow to the GOP’s image and has exposed significant divisions between tea party supporters and other Republicans, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

    The survey highlights just how badly the GOP hard-liners and the leaders who went along with them misjudged the public mood. In the aftermath, eight in 10 Americans say they disapprove of the shutdown. Two in three Republicans or independents who lean Republican share a negative view of the impasse. And even a majority of those who support the tea party movement disapprove.

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  • France joins list of allies angry over NSA spying

    By Deb Riechmann and Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press

    Joining a growing list of angry allies, France on Monday demanded an explanation from Washington of a report that the U.S. swept up 70 million French telephone records and text messages in its global surveillance net, even recording certain private conversations.

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  • Meet the New Hillary

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    On Saturday, Hillary Clinton was a campaigner again.

    It had been five years since the former secretary of state last took to the stump when she appeared here on behalf of her former fundraiser and presidential campaign chairman, Terry McAuliffe, who is the Democratic nominee in the Virginia gubernatorial election scheduled for November 5. And her pointedly political speech showed both the new candidate she will be if she runs again and the old tendencies that remain.

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Oct 21, 2013

  • Despite setback, GOP has impressive budgetary wins

    by Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Democrats who gloat over Republicans' bad week in Congress might pause to recall that conservatives still own major victories from past budget showdowns. And these wins may again thwart Democrats' hopes of changing tax-and-spend policies in two-party talks beginning anew in the Capitol.

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  • Bipartisan Deals Can Only Pass Inside a Narrow Window. Here Are the Dates.

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    While Congress now seems entirely at the mercy of its own internal dysfunction, there will come a time next year when, in theory at least, House Republicans will be in the best position to vote on divisive issues such as immigration or maybe even a long-term budget deal.

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  • Government shutdown: Plenty of lessons to go around

    by Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Obama and the Democrats won; Republicans and the tea party lost. And both sides are gearing up for next time. Now that our recent brush with financial crisis is behind us, it's time to start planning for the next one.

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  • Americans Felt Betrayed by the Shutdown

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Could Americans really get any angrier at Washington? Even before the recent government shutdown, congressional approval hovered around 10 percent, a minority thought the country was on the right track, and a “throw the bums out” mentality was rampant. Railing against the toxic mess in D.C. has been a winning strategy for politicians from Barack Obama on down for years now.

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  • You Have Questions About The NSA; We Have Answers

    By Tom Gjelten, NPR

    The revelations by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has raised many complicated issues. NPR's national security correspondent Tom Gjelten answers questions submitted by NPR listeners and readers.

    Listen to the report

Oct 18, 2013

  • Two Parties Start Work to Avoid Repeat Crisis

    By Jackie Calmes and Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times

    With the government reopened and a debt default averted for now, Congressional negotiators on Thursday plunged into difficult budget talks to avoid a repeat crisis within months, and quickly agreed to lower their sights from the sort of grand bargain that has eluded the two parties for three years.

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  • The Challenge for Lawmakers to Give Up Their Pay

    With Jeff Zeleny, ABC News

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  • Can Obama Seize The Moment And Make Washington Work?

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    It’s rare when a president is given an opportunity to reboot in the middle of a term, but that’s what the end of the government shutdown has provided President Obama. The question now is: What will he do with it?

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  • Obama’s Edge Over G.O.P. Is Still Unclear After Victory in Standoff

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    As the Senate voted Wednesday night on a bipartisan deal to reopen the government and avert a national default, President Obama emerged from the Oval Office prepared to head to the White House briefing room to deliver a televised statement. But he was thinking beyond the moment.

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