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!

Dec 17, 2013

  • Obama suffers most from year of turmoil, poll finds

    By Dan Balz and Scott Clement, Washington Post

    President Obama is ending his fifth year in office matching the worst public approval ratings of his presidency, with record numbers of Americans saying they disapprove of his job performance and his once-hefty advantages over Republicans in Congress eroded in many areas, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

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Dec 16, 2013

  • Vietnam Vet Kerry Returns to Mekong Delta on New Mission

    By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Bloomberg News

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry returned to the murky rivers where he fought Viet Cong insurgents, focused now on the future of the two nations, not their past.

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  • Unemployment Benefits End Right After Christmas. Here’s What Happens Next.

    By Fawn Johnson and Elahe Izadi, National Journal

    Just three days after Christmas, 1.3 million people will lose their federal emergency unemployment insurance. The extension of the benefits for the long-time jobless didn't make its way into the budget deal that is expected to pass the Senate this week.

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  • The Game the Senate Should Play

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    This week, I volunteered to be locked in a room with 10 other people to play an escape game. It was fascinating and great fun. In the United States Senate this week, they were also playing a locked room game. Senators were trapped in a spite-fest that kept them in rare marathon sessions, through the night. In our attempt to get out of the room, we cooperated, spoke only when necessary, and focused relentlessly on progress. In the Senate, they were doing the opposite. Perhaps they could learn something from our experience.

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  • NSA Fights Back Against Critics

    By David Green and Tom Gjelten, NPR

    The National Security Agency is challenging those who want to overhaul its surveillance operations. A special panel has sent a report to the White House on how NSA programs should be changed. The group was established by the president following revelations about NSA eavesdropping.

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  • You Can Never Be Too Ready for Hillary

    Let me ask you something. Are you ready for Hillary? I mean, really ready?

    A lot of people are ready. The exact number is considered proprietary information, but the folks at Ready for Hillary, the super PAC formed to urge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president, assure me it is very large. Ready for Hillary has 1.2 million Facebook fans, its communications director, Seth Bringman, points out.

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Dec 13, 2013

  • Budget deal wins broad bipartisan support in House

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    The U.S. House overwhelmingly approved, 332-94, a two-year bipartisan budget framework Thursday that will eliminate the threat of a government shutdown and modestly reduce the deficit over the next decade.

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  • Boehner attacks tea party groups as House approves budget deal

    By Paul Kane and Ed O’Keefe, Washington Post

    After years of placating conservative groups that repeatedly undermined his agenda, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) took direct aim at some of his tea party critics Thursday, accusing them of working against the interests of the Republican Party.

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  • Why This Round of the Republican Civil War Was Different

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Another round of the long-running GOP civil war broke out this week, and you could be forgiven for greeting it with a yawn. House Speaker John Boehner proposed something; conservatives immediately rose up against it, egged on by right-wing pressure groups. News flash: There's disunity in the Republican ranks.

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  • Family of American who vanished in Iran sees plusses in disclosure he was working for CIA

    By Pete Williams and Mike Brunker, NBC News

    Friends and relatives of Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent who disappeared in Iran more than six years ago, say they hope new disclosures that he was working for the CIA will lead to more action to get him home.

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  • Obama Panel Said to Urge N.S.A. Curbs

    By David E. Sanger, The New York Times

    A presidential advisory committee charged with examining the operations of the National Security Agency has concluded that a program to collect data on every phone call made in the United States should continue, though under broad new restraints that would be intended to increase privacy protections, according to officials with knowledge of the report’s contents.

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  • Don't expect big things from Washington in 2014

    By John Harwood, CNBC

    Think about 2014 as a year of diminished D.C. expectations—and then you'll see the pattern in my predictions for the next 12 months.

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Dec 12, 2013

  • Budget Deal Picks Up Steam

    By Janet Hook and Kristina Peterson, Wall Street Journal

    House Republican leaders threw their weight behind a two-year budget deal, planning to bring it to a vote Thursday as opposition in both parties failed to gain enough traction to threaten passage.

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  • Boehner Lowers the Boom

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    John Boehner had reached his limit. In a meeting with his House colleagues to discuss Wednesday’s budget agreement, the House speaker finally let loose on the conservative groups that have been roiling Republican politics. Organizations like the Club for Growth and Heritage Action had opposed the plan without even knowing its details, said Boehner, because their true goal was to raise money and expand their organizations, not fight for any particular principle or policy. "No one controls your voting card but you," Boehner said. This wasn't just a message for closed-doors. The speaker took on the groups in public: “They’re using our members, and they’re using the American people for their own goals,” Boehner said in a press conference Wednesday. “This is ridiculous."

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  • When a Second-Term President Nears the Midterm Shoals

    By John Harwood, The New York Times

    History says President Obama should brace for another round of midterm election losses next year — and be grateful for the opportunity.

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  • Did Paul Ryan Just Ruin His Chances for 2016?

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Unlike some conservative voices, the potential Republican presidential contenders had the courtesy to wait until after the budget deal was unveiled to declare their opposition. But they didn't wait long.

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  • From South Africa to Iran, Economic Sanctions Evolve

    By David Wessel. Wall Street Journal

    Economic sanctions are a civilized alternative to bullets, bombs and invasions.

    The art and science of sanctions have evolved since they were deployed in the 1980s to pressure South Africa. Today's sanctions, particularly the increasingly sophisticated ability of the U.S. to unplug a target from the global finance system, are more likely to actually work.

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  • For No. 2 at Fed, White House Favors Central Banker in the Bernanke Mold

    By Binyamin Applebaum and Peter Baker, The New York Times

    Stanley Fischer, the former governor of the Bank of Israel and a mentor to the Federal Reserve’s chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, is the leading candidate to become vice chairman of the Fed, according to former and current administration officials.

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Dec 11, 2013

  • Leaders in Congress unveil two-year budget deal

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Budget negotiators announced Tuesday a bipartisan deal to set spending levels for the federal government for two years and partially replace unpopular spending cuts with other savings.

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  • Obama suffered damage during first year of second term: Poll

    By John Harwood, CNBC

    President Barack Obama has suffered serious political damage from the troubled first year of his second term, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

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