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 31, 2014

  • Obamacare Enrollment Heading to 7 Million at Deadline

    By Alex Wayne, Bloomberg News

    The first yearly sign-up period for Obamacare closes today, with early returns suggesting the administration may near a projection of 7 million enrollees made before the U.S. health exchange struggled at its startup.

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  • How Much Is Russian Incursion About Oil?

    With Indira Lakshmanan, Bloomberg News

    Barclays Head of North American Commodities Helima Croft and Bloomberg's Indira Lakshmanan discuss the crisis in Ukraine on Bloomberg Television's "In The Loop."

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  • Hopes Frustrated, Many Latinos Reject the Ballot Box Altogether

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    As the weather warms, Lizeth Chacon is anticipating a new season of registering Latino voters — yet dreading experiences like one late last year, when she came upon a skate park full of older teenagers.

    “I thought, ‘The perfect age! They’re turning 18,’ ” said Ms. Chacon, just 26 herself, born in Mexico and now the lead organizer at Rights for All People, a local immigrant organizing group. But among the roughly 50 people she approached in this increasingly diverse city east of Denver, “not a single person” was interested in her pitch, including those already old enough to vote: “They were like, ‘Why? Why would I bother to vote?’ ”

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  • Senate Democrats struggle to define a message that can save their majority

    By Karen Tumulty and Paul Kane, The Washington Post

    Democrats are going into the 2014 midterm elections with their control of the Senate greatly imperiled and with the prospect of an Obama presidency completely hobbled in its final two years.

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  • Why did GM take so long to respond to deadly defect? Corporate culture may hold answer.

    By Michael A. Fletcher and Steven Mufson, The Washington Post

    The part costs less than $10 wholesale. The fix takes less than an hour. A mechanic removes a few screws and connectors, takes off a plastic shroud, pops in the new switch, and the customer is back on the road.

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Mar 28, 2014

  • Obamacare’s 6 Million Target Hit as Exchange Visits Surge

    By Alex Wayne, Bloomberg News

    Six million Americans have signed up for private health plans under Obamacare, President Barack Obama said, a symbolic milestone for a government that has struggled to get the law off the ground.

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  • Congress advances Ukraine aid package

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Congress is working to send legislation to President Obama by the end of the week to reaffirm support for Ukraine, provide loan guarantees and impose further sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea.

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  • The ‘Sheldon Primary’ is one reason why Americans distrust the political system

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    Several prospective Republican presidential candidates have gathered in Las Vegas for the opening round of what has been dubbed “the Sheldon Primary,” an event emblematic of how warped the system for financing presidential elections has become.

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  • Unguarded comments, caught on tape, dog candidates

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    You might think this year's candidates had learned from Barack Obama's comments about bitter people who "cling to guns or religion." Or perhaps from Mitt Romney's apparent dismissal of the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay federal income taxes.

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  • Air Force Fires 9 Officers in Scandal Over Cheating on Proficiency Tests

    By Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    The Air Force said Thursday that it had fired nine officers and accepted the resignation of the commander at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana as it continued to deal with a widespread cheating scandal among the men and women entrusted with the launching of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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  • The Kids, They Know Things

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    For the first time in my life I have a secretary. If I were a branch manager or assistant V.P. of sales in an honest profession, I might have gotten one sooner. But I am a journalist and we work alone. Finally, though, I have someone who understands the latest iPhone updates, delights in Bluetooth pairing, and can disarm clamshell packaging. I have been sprung from Windows 8 jail because my new helper disabled its improvements and made it work just like Windows 7. If I need to know the name of the second largest river in South America or who started the Surrealist movement, I just ask.

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Mar 27, 2014

  • Obama Renewing U.S. Commitment to NATO Alliance

    By Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama has spent much of his presidency mired in the challenges of a world well outside the borders of Europe — the turmoil of the Middle East, the power struggles in Asia and the terrorist threats percolating in northern Africa, Pakistan and elsewhere.

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  • Obama: Crimea not another Cold War but a 'contest of ideas'

    By Kathleen Hennessey and Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    The dispute over Crimea is not another Cold War but a “contest of ideas,” pitting an outmoded nationalism against the progress of democratic ideals, President Obama declared Wednesday as he sought to explain the Western response to Russia’s seizure of the peninsula from Ukraine.

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  • Military Cuts Render NATO Less Formidable as Deterrent to Russia

    By Helene Cooper and Steven Erlanger, The New York Times

    President Obama and European leaders pledged Wednesday to bolster the NATO alliance and vowed that Russia would not be allowed to run roughshod over its neighbors. But the military reality on the ground in Europe tells a different story.

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  • House Democrats are introducing a discharge petition on immigration. It won’t work.

    By Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

    Lacking any control of the House schedule, Democrats have tried twice unsuccessfully in the past six months to use a discharge petition to force a vote on legislation they support. A discharge petition is a procedural tactic that allows an absolute majority of the House of Representatives (218 lawmakers) to force a floor vote on a bill, even if leaders who control the House floor oppose the measure. Successful use of discharge petitions conceivably could help the minority party hijack the majority party's legislative agenda.

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  • Decoding The Democrats’ New 2014 Agenda

    By Jeff Zeleny, ABC News

    With their control of the Senate in jeopardy, Democrats unveiled a new agenda today in hopes of moving beyond the fierce Republican backlash of the health care law by trying to change the subject to a focus on pocketbook issues in the midterm elections.

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Mar 26, 2014

  • Obama Answers Critics, Dismissing Russia as a ‘Regional Power’

    By Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker, The New York Times

    Amid the chest-thumping between President Obama and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in recent weeks, one question has lingered: How big a threat is Russia, anyway?

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  • Senate Ukraine aid bill will not include IMF changes

    By Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

    Senate Democrats will remove provisions from a proposed aid package for Ukraine that would change how the United States provides money for the International Monetary Fund in order to ensure quicker passage of the measure, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday.

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  • SCOTUS Clashes Over Obamacare Contraception Coverage

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    The U.S. Supreme Court took up the most closely-watched question of the term: does the Obamacare law violate religious freedom?

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  • Abortion fight haunts U.S. top court hearing on healthcare law

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    U.S. Supreme Court arguments over federal healthcare policy were nearly finished on Tuesday when Justice Anthony Kennedy challenged Obama administration lawyer Donald Verrilli on abortion rights.

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