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 02, 2013

  • Congress Hits New Productivity Lows

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Congress is on track to beat its own low record of productivity, enacting fewer laws this year than at any point in the past 66 years.

    It's a continuing slide of productivity that began in 2011, after Republicans recaptured the House majority in the 2010 elections, and the ability to find common ground has eluded the two parties while the legislative to-do list piles up.

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  • After Setbacks, Does Obama Have a Turnaround Plan?

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    President Obama favors the long game over the 24/7 chatter culture that so often dominates the politics of Washington. But as he marks a crucial deadline for his Affordable Care Act, he must be sobered by the time that has passed since he won reelection and the time left in his presidency.

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  • Dance of the GOP Governors

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Don't look now, but auditions for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination are already underway in Washington. And the flavor of the moment is — governors.

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Nov 27, 2013

  • In a Time of Need, the Vice President Plays to His Strengths

    By Jackie Calmes, New York Times

    Speaking to longshoremen, local politicians and health care activists last week in Houston, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. variously quoted his grandfather Ambrose Finnegan, his father, Joe Sr., and the poet William Butler Yeats. “Joey,” he recalled his grandfather hollering, “keep the faith!”

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  • Iran Sanctions: Dancing with Tehran

    By Doyle McManus, LA Times

    If economic sanctions were key to forcing Iran to accept limits on its nuclear program, wouldn't more sanctions have an even greater effect? Critics of last week's interim nuclear deal with Tehran certainly think so.

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  • Appointmentpalooza in the Senate? Don't Bet on It

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    There are 231 presidential nominations waiting to be confirmed by the Senate. Now that Democrats have changed the filibuster rules—last week's invocation of the "nuclear option"—those are all going to sail through, right? The Senate will be one non-stop confirmation party until every federal judicial chamber, Cabinet-agency desk, ambassadorship, and oversight board is occupied by a liberal Obama appointee! Flowers will bloom and music will play in the Capitol as Harry Reid presents "Appointmentpalooza"!

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  • Obama Meets With Entertainment CEOs in Calif.

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    As speeches go, President Obama's appearance in California on Tuesday was a testament to remakes, or perhaps politically expedient recycling. Speaking in a courtyard to an estimated 1,800 DreamWorks Animation guests and employees in Glendale, the president delivered what the White House billed as an economic address, squeezed between fundraisers held in two states over two days.

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  • Supreme Court Will Take Up Controversial Obamacare Provision On Contraception

    By Pete Williams, NBC News

    The Supreme Court, taking up a controversial provision of Obamacare, agreed Tuesday to consider whether a company can refuse to provide contraceptive care to female employees on the grounds that doing so would violate its religious freedom.

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  • Report: Elizabeth Warren for president in 2016?

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Could Sen. Elizabeth Warren run for president in 2016?  The New Republic makes the case for the liberal Massachusetts Democrat as a potential rival to presumed front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton in their latest cover story.

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Nov 26, 2013

  • Obama Nightly Reading Reveals Angst About Health-Site Fix

    By Mike Dorning & Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News

    During the day, Jeffrey Zients drives around Washington’s Beltway, overseeing the private contractors and government officials racing to fix the flawed Obamacare website.

    By night, President Barack Obama gets a rundown of Zients’ progress from White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough during their evening stroll along the South Lawn. A fuller report follows in a briefing book Obama takes upstairs to the first-family’s quarters for late-night reading.

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  • Fla. Special Election May Showcase 'Obamacare' Effect

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    A special election for a vacant House seat in Florida is shaping up as an early bellwether race that may indicate how President Obama's health care law is going to affect the 2014 elections.

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  • Next Step in Iran Nuclear Deal

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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  • Long Road Ahead For Permanent Iran Nuclear Deal To Be Reached

    With Tom Gjelten, NPR

    The Obama administration says one of the most important gains in the Iran nuclear deal is that it will buy time for negotiations on a more permanent agreement. If no such agreement is reached, sanctions that have been suspended could be re-imposed. But analysts say the obstacles to a final agreement are still huge, and it may not be easy to regain the leverage that sanctions have achieved so far.

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  • Among American Workers, Poll Finds Unprecedented Anxiety About Jobs, Economy

    By Jim Tankersley and Scott Clement, Washington Post

    The alarm rang on John Stewart’s phone at 1:10 a.m. Up at 1:30, he caught one bus north into Philadelphia a little after 2 and another bus, south toward the airport, half an hour after that. He made it into work around 3:25 for a shift that started at 4, for a job that pays $5.25 an hour, which he cannot afford to lose.

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Nov 25, 2013

  • President Obama Calls Iran Deal "A First Step"; Republicans Critical

    By Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama hailed the deal to curtail Iran's nuclear program as “a first step" that "achieves a great deal" in the effort to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

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  • Congress Members React to the Iran Nuclear Deal

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    Lawmakers began reacting late Saturday to news of an interim agreement that freezes key parts of Iran's nuclear program. Other lawmakers weighed in on Sunday morning, either in a written statement or on television. Here are excerpts from statements:

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  • U.N.-Connected Agency at Heart of Iranian Nuclear Deal

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    The International Atomic Energy Agency is an independent watchdog at the center of negotiations with Iran and its pursuit of a nuclear weapons program.

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  • Don’t Dare Call the Health Law ‘Redistribution’

    By John Harwood, The New York Times

    Rebecca M. Blank was a top candidate in 2011 to lead President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, but then the White House turned up something politically dangerous.

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  • What Happened to Immigration Reform?

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Last week, John Boehner was having breakfast at his customary spot on Capitol Hill, Pete’s Diner, when he was approached by two teenage girls with a video camera. Clad in a baseball cap and fleece pullover, the speaker nervously fiddled with his ear as the pair told him of their undocumented immigrant parents’ fear of deportation. “I’m trying to find a way to get this thing done,” he told them. “It’s, as you know, not easy. It’s not going to be an easy path forward, but I’ve made it clear since the day after the election that it’s time to get this done.”

Nov 22, 2013

  • Why Harry Reid Went Nuclear

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Like an actual nuclear weapon, the Senate's "nuclear option" was long thought to be most effective not as a weapon but as a deterrent. Harry Reid, leader of the Democratic majority, has frequently brandished the threat to change the Senate rules in the face of obstruction by the Republican minority, which has blocked presidential appointments at a record pace in recent years.

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