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!

Jan 28, 2014

  • NBC/WSJ poll: Obama approval rating at 43%

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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  • Obama to Raise Minimum Wage Under Federal Contractors

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama plans to sign an executive order requiring that janitors, construction workers and others working for federal contractors be paid at least $10.10 an hour, using his own power to enact a more limited version of a policy that he has yet to push through Congress.

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Jan 27, 2014

  • For Obama, Investing in Brighter Futures Remains a Tough Sell

    By John Harwood, The New York Times

    Whatever President Obama has accomplished, he has made little headway on the goal he values most: government action to lift long-term economic prospects for average Americans.

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  • Topics Obama Won't Dwell Upon Tuesday Night

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    From Americans’ stagnant incomes to Iran's nuclear ambitions, and from pre-kindergarten classrooms to climate change, President Obama will have lots to say Tuesday evening.

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  • Poll Finds Little Faith in Nation’s Leaders

    By Dan Balz and Peyton M. Craighill, Washington Post

    President Obama will speak to the nation Tuesday night with approval ratings lower than for any of his previous State of the Union addresses and with Americans broadly pessimistic that he or lawmakers of either party will make good decisions for the future of the country, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

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  • Afghanistan Exit Is Seen as Peril to C.I.A. Drone Mission

    By David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times

    The risk that President Obama may be forced to pull all American troops out of Afghanistan by the end of the year has set off concerns inside the American intelligence agencies that they could lose their air bases used for drone strikes against Al Qaeda in Pakistan and for responding to a nuclear crisis in the region.

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  • How Republicans Lost the Farm

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    On a recent Monday in San Antonio, Texas, Tom Vilsack, the secretary of agriculture, got up to speak to an auditorium full of farmers. Vilsack, a doughy, wavy-haired former governor of Iowa, wore a grim expression as he gripped the lectern.

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  • Meet the Romneys

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Mitt, the documentary about Willard Mitt Romney's two presidential campaigns, is not so much a campaign movie as it is a home movie. You can tell it's not a campaign movie because in the 90 minutes of behind-the-scenes private moments, none of the main characters utters a single swear word. If it were a political documentary, you'd have to send the kids to the other room. Instead, you should save a space on the couch for them to watch this story of a loving father and his family weathering the abuse of the modern political campaign with faith, good humor, and love.

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Jan 24, 2014

  • Address May Hint at Compromise on Ways to Fight Inequality

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    More than he might have imagined just a month ago, President Obama has an opening with Tuesday’s State of the Union address to advance his argument to Congress that the rising inequality of economic opportunities is America’s “defining challenge of our time.”

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  • The Politics Behind The Economic Fairness Debate

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    To understand why Democrats are making such a significant push on the issue of economic equality take a look at this chart below:

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  • Pentagon Study Finds Agencies Ill Equipped to Detect Foreign Nuclear Efforts

    By David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, The New York Times

    A three-year study by the Pentagon has concluded that American intelligence agencies are “not yet organized or fully equipped” to detect when foreign powers are developing nuclear weapons or ramping up their existing arsenals, and calls for using some of the same techniques that the National Security Agency has developed against terrorists.

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  • GOP moves to shorten 2016 nominating calendar

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    The Republican National Committee is on track to compress the party's nomination process for a presidential candidate in 2016, though Iowa and New Hampshire will still be the first states to cast votes in the process.

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  • Does the Republican Party Have to Change?

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    The members of the Republican National Committee gathered in Washington this week. On Thursday, Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and former presidential candidate, was the featured speaker. “The Democrats,” Huckabee declared, “want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government.”

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Jan 23, 2014

  • Post-9/11 Panel Criticizes NSA Phone Data Collection

    By Carrie Johnson, NPR

    An independent panel created after the 9/11 attacks says bulk collection of billions of American phone records violates the letter and the spirit of the law.

    The new report from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board undercuts the foundation of the National Security Agency's long-running phone metadata program, and suggests it conflicts with plain language in the Patriot Act and other laws on the books.

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  • Nuclear Corps, Sidelined in Terror Fight, Produces a Culture of Cheating

    By Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    Top military officials were quick to voice outrage over revelations last week that 34 officers responsible for launching the nation’s nuclear missiles cheated on monthly proficiency tests, but few expressed surprise.

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  • Economic mobility hasn’t changed in a half-century in America, economists declare

    By Jim Tankersley, The Washington Post

    Children growing up in America today are just as likely — no more, no less — to climb the economic ladder as children born more than a half-century ago, a team of economists reported Thursday.

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  • Panel Urges State Fixes for Election Snags

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    Americans shouldn't have to wait more than 30 minutes to vote during elections, a special commission told President Obama on Wednesday, noting that no single solution will magically fix voting delays and technological challenges considered a sure bet in the future.

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  • U.S. Feds Charging Reputed Mobster for 'Goodfellas' Heist

    By Josh Margolin and Pierre Thomas, ABC News

    Federal agents today are doing something they couldn’t do for more than three decades: they’re charging a reputed mobster in connection with the infamous Lufthansa Heist at Kennedy International Airport in 1978, ABC News has learned.

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Jan 22, 2014

  • Sochi Security Preparations

    With Jim Sciutto, CNN

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  • U.S. Military Eyes Afghan Force of 10,000, or a Pullout

    By Jackie Calmes and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times

    The Pentagon has proposed to President Obama that 10,000 American troops remain in Afghanistan when the international combat mission there ends after this year, or none at all, senior government officials said Tuesday.

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