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!

Mar 06, 2014

  • EU to Weigh Ukraine Sanctions, Russia Spurns Diplomacy

    By Indira Lakshmanan and James Neuger, Bloomberg News

    European Union leaders will consider repercussions for Russia at an emergency meeting today on the Ukraine crisis, after Russia’s foreign minister fended off a U.S. effort to ease tensions in the Crimean peninsula. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron will participate in today’s meeting in Brussels, a day after the 28-nation bloc offered 1.6 billion euros ($2.2 billion) in emergency aid to help the new Ukrainian government avert a default. The government is prepared to immediately sign the EU association agreement that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych rejected, precipitating the crisis, premier Arseniy Yatsenyuk said in an interview with newspaper Rzeczpospolita.

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  • U.S. Hopes Boom in Natural Gas Can Curb Putin

    By Coral Davenport and Steven Erlanger, The New York Times

    The crisis in Crimea is heralding the rise of a new era of American energy diplomacy, as the Obama administration tries to deploy the vast new supply of natural gas in the United States as a weapon to undercut the influence of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, over Ukraine and Europe.

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  • Senate blocks Obama nominee over cop-killer case

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    The U.S. Senate narrowly rejected President Obama's nominee to oversee the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division due to Republican and law enforcement objections to the role he played in the defense of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. In a statement, Obama called the defeat of Debo Adegbile a "travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant."

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  • Health Plan Cancellations Delayed Two More Years

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    The Obama administration announced Wednesday that existing insurance policyholders will be able to keep some insurance plans for another two years, even though the coverage doesn’t meet requirements of the Affordable Care Act.  The government said the latest in a series of ACA modifications that began last year offered “certainty and clarity” to policyholders, states and insurance companies well into 2017.

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  • Poll finds Republicans resistant to Chris Christie presidential candidacy

    By Dan Balz and Peyton M. Craighill, The Washington Post

    As conservatives gather in the Washington area on Thursday for three days of speeches from prospective 2016 presidential candidates and discussions about the future of the GOP, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll found that three in 10 of all Republicans say they would not vote for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie if he ran for the White House.

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  • Why the 1 Percent Have Nothing to Fear

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    If you are a member of the 1 percent, be wary, the politicians are coming for you. They’d like a donation to their campaign. Given all the talk about income inequality, you might have worried that they’d be supporting policies that could hurt you. Rest easy: Control of the Senate hangs in the balance this election year and the political system needs your donations more than your hide. Pollsters and strategists are telling candidates that targeting the rich or talking too much about income inequality isn’t a smart strategy. So you’re not even likely to receive a righteous rhetorical scapegoating. History suggests you’ve dodged a bullet, too. Today’s popular ferment for change is small by historical comparison.

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Mar 05, 2014

  • No Easy Way Out of Ukraine Crisis

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    For all his bluster and bravado, President Vladimir V. Putin’s assurance on Tuesday that Russia does not plan, at least for now, to seize eastern Ukraine suggested a possible path forward in the geopolitical crisis that has captivated the world. Global markets reacted with relief, and the White House with cautious optimism.

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  • The dawn of Cold War II

    By Doyle McManus, LA Times

    Here's a chilly thought: We are seeing the dawn of a second Cold War between Russia and the West. But this one should be easier to manage than the first was. The headlines over the last week have echoed the bad old days of the 20th century: Russian troops marching into someone else's territory. Poland calling on NATO to help secure its borders. Americans and Russians trading angry charges at the United Nations.

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  • Obama Budget Sees Deficit Reduction From Health Law

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    President Obama told Congress Tuesday the nation could inch closer to a balanced budget in a decade, thanks (in part) to billions of dollars in savings made possible through provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The president may see the proof he seeks before leaving office in 2017, but experts say it is still too soon to calculate how the embattled 2010 law will impact the overall budget in 2024. Obama, who sent Congress his budget blueprint for the year that will begin Oct. 1, touted the downward trend in federal health care spending achieved as the health reform law has been implemented.

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  • Why the Obama budget is already dead

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    Congress has passed a two-year budget agreement that sets spending levels through the end of 2015, meaning that members of the House and Senate can justifiably dismiss the budget President Obama unveiled Tuesday as irrelevant. But the White House is required by law to present a budget proposal each year, so Obama used the moment to release an ambitious proposal that relies on more than $1 trillion in new taxes and includes more than $55 billion in new spending. Next week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is expected to follow up with a proposal that will focus on welfare reform and an overhaul of social programs, including Head Start and Medicaid.

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  • Republican Primary Season Opens in Texas

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    When Texas Representative Steve Stockman announced he would run for the U.S. Senate, back in December, pundits girded for a doozy of a fight. The senator who Stockman was challenging in the Republican primary, John Cornyn, had a Tea Party target on his back for his lack of enthusiasm for last fall's government shutdown and for failing to embrace the Tea Party as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee back in 2010. Stockman's public persona has long been more Internet troll than public servant—he had campaign bumper stickers that read, "If babies had guns they wouldn't be aborted"; recently, his spokesman responded to Karl Rove's support for Cornyn by observing, "Karl Rove looks like an elderly baby." Yet, as a two-term member of Congress, Stockman was more qualified on paper than the Tea Party Senate nominees of yore (remember semi-professional Bill Maher guest Christine O'Donnell?).

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Mar 04, 2014

  • Obama Budget Would Expand Low-Income Tax Break

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    When President Obama releases his proposed annual budget on Tuesday, he will grab his best opportunity of the year to show, in one comprehensive package of hard numbers and precise detail, how he would have the government address what he has called “the defining challenge of our time” — economic inequality.

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  • Kerry Arrives in Kiev With U.S. Aid for Ukraine

    With Indira Lakshmanan, Bloomberg News

    Bloomberg News’ Indira Lakshmanan reports on the aid offered to Ukraine’s government by the United States as Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Kiev on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg Surveillance.”

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  • Obama nudges Netanyahu on peace plan, Israeli leader pushes back

    By Christi Parsons and Batsheva Sobelman, LA Times

    President Obama tried Monday to nudge Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toward a peace plan with Palestinians, urging him to make the "tough decisions" needed to advance a two-state solution.

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  • Poll: Democrats’ advantage on key issues is not translating to a midterm-election edge

    By Dan Balz and Scott Clement, The Washington Post

    The American people trust Democrats more than Republicans on some of the key issues of the day, but that has not translated into any political advantage in the battle for control of the House and Senate in this year’s midterm elections, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

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  • The Very Last Thing Republicans Have to Fight About

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    Mary Scott Hunter is a lifelong Republican, military veteran, military wife, corporate lawyer, small-business owner, Sunday school teacher, and mom of three school-age kids. Her father was a star quarterback on the University of Alabama’s football team. Her mother was a cheerleader. She is an elected member of the state school board and is often mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate.

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Mar 03, 2014

  • Pressure Rising as Obama Works to Rein In Russia

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    As Russia dispatched more forces and tightened its grip on the Crimean Peninsula on Sunday, President Obama embarked on a strategy intended to isolate Moscow and prevent it from seizing more Ukrainian territory even as he was pressured at home to respond more forcefully.

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  • Obama to urge Netanyahu to make peace with Palestinians

    By Christi Parsons, Tribune Newspapers

    President Obama plans to urge Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to support the U.S. framework for peace with the Palestinians when the two men meet in the Oval Office on Monday, according to aides familiar with the agenda.

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  • Big or Small, Spending-Cut Efforts Hit Roadblocks

    By Charles Babington and Andrew Taylor, Associated Press

    The budget gurus in Congress have failed for years to find a grand bargain to reduce the government's long-term debt, so this year they decided to go small. Just 1 percentage point would be shaved from the annual cost-of-living increase in military pensions for veterans under age 62.

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  • Democrats Try Wooing Ones Who Got Away: White Men

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    Frank Houston knows something about the longtime estrangement of white men from the Democratic Party. His family roots are in nearby Macomb County, the symbolic home of working-class Reagan Democrats who, distressed by economic and social tumult, decided a liberal Democratic Party had left them, not the other way around.

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