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 05, 2014

  • 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?).

    Read more

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.

    Read more
  • 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.”

    Watch more
  • 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.

    Read more
  • 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.

    Read more
  • 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.

    Read more

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.

    Read more
  • 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.

    Read more
  • 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.

    Read more
  • 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.

    Read more
  • Does Hillary Clinton Need to “Be Real”?

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    “Be careful to ‘be real.’ ” That was Hillary Clinton adviser Mandy Grunwald’s advice in 1999 as the first lady took her first steps toward running for the Senate seat from New York. The document was one contained in the 4,000 to 5,000 pages just released from former President Bill Clinton’s administration. The line referred to Clinton admitting, in an interview, that the Monica Lewinsky scandal and impeachment had been hard. This admission helped create a bond between Clinton and the audience, Grunwald said.

    Read more
  • What Is Joe Biden Up To?

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Vice President Joe Biden's speech to the Democratic National Committee on Thursday included a paean to long shots and lost causes. "Everything I've ever done in my career that I consider worthwhile—from the Violence Against Women Act to the crime bill to helping get us out of Iraq—it took time," he said. "If we didn't start when we started ... it would have never happened."

    Read more

Feb 28, 2014

  • Hagel Warns Russia Not to Intervene in Ukraine

    By Helene Cooper

    Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel warned Russia on Thursday to stay out of the turmoil in Ukraine, while NATO defense ministers issued repeated statements meant to show support for the new leadership in Kiev.

    Read more
  • After government shutdown, dozens of lawmakers gave to charity

    By Ed O'Keefe, Washington Post

    From the very outset of the 16-day government shutdown last fall, members of Congress recognized its potential for political damage. Many of them, seeking to contain the possible fallout, pledged to give back some of their federal salaries earned while the government was not functioning.

    Read more
  • Congress takes the year off

    By Gloria Borger, CNN

    It's a political axiom that the closer Congress gets to an election, the less work it gets done.

    But here's the current math: what's less than nothing? And if you do even less than nothing, at what point does it become completely counterproductive and silly?

    Read more
  • Sen. Cruz won't endorse Cornyn in Texas GOP race

    By Charles Babington and Donna Cassata, Associated Press

    The sniping between establishment Republicans and tea partyers resumed Thursday as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz refused to endorse his state’s senior senator in next week’s Republican primary.

    Read more
  • Holder Health Scare Highlights Questions About Obama

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    President Obama has not undergone a complete medical examination since well before his re-election -- apparently not since October 2011, according to public records.

    Read more

Feb 27, 2014

  • Push Behind Arizona 'Religious Freedom' Law Has Long History

    By Pete Williams, NBC News

    The path to Arizona's proposed law that would allow businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians begins over twenty years ago in Oregon and winds through a photographer's studio in New Mexico.

    Two Native American men who worked at an Oregon drug rehab center were fired two decades ago for smoking peyote -- an illegal drug -- at a church service. They sued, claiming an exemption from the state's drug law, arguing that their use of peyote was part of a tribal religious ritual.

    Read more
  • US: Majority-Minority Nation

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    Watch more
  • Democrats begin push to force vote on minimum wage

    By Ed O'Keefe, Washington Post

    Congressional Democrats turned Wednesday to an obscure legislative maneuver in hopes of forcing a vote to raise the minimum wage, saying they have no choice but to embrace the rarely-used tactic in hopes of forcing Republicans to debate the issue.

    Read more