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 26, 2012

  • Congress Has Outsized Influence Over Obama's Cabinet

    By Reid Wilson, National Journal's Hotline

    Robert Bork's 1987 nomination to the Supreme Court, and the uproar over his ideology that ultimately led to his defeat, forever changed the process by which the Senate confirms judges. In the 25 years that have followed Bork's nomination, the two parties have fought increasingly bitter battles over high court picks in an effort to tilt the third branch of government their way. In 2002, the Oxford English Dictionary added the verb "to bork" -- to systematically defame or vilify a person, especially in the mass media -- to their lexicon.

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  • After Benghazi, Reassessing Risk

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Soon — perhaps very soon — the Syrian government of Bashar Assad will fall. On that day, and for months after, Damascus will probably be a disorderly and dangerous place, a risky place for American diplomats to be.

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Dec 21, 2012

  • Boehner Pins Responsibility for Avoiding ‘Fiscal Cliff’ on Obama, Democrats

    By Lori Montgomery and Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

    House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) sought to shift responsibility Friday to President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate to reach an agreement to avert a series of spending cuts and tax hikes after his fellow Republicans delivered a stunning rebuke to Boehner’s own plan to raise taxes on those making more than $1 million.

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  • Next Move Is Obama’s After Boehner’s Tax Plan Fails

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    With House Republicans’ revolt over their leader’s tax plan the evening before, President Obama on Friday faced the challenge of finding a new tax-and-spending solution — perhaps working now with Senate Republicans — to prevent a looming fiscal crisis in January.

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  • Obama Names Kerry as Nominee to Replace Clinton at State

    By Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg

    President Barack Obama named Massachusetts Senator John Kerry as his choice to become the next U.S. secretary of state, saying he has the respect and trust of leaders around the world.

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  • NRA's Wayne LaPierre Calls for Armed Security at Every School

  • NRA Offers Free Advice on Arming Schools

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    It was called a press conference, but it was really a dog-and-pony show. Or rather, a dog-and-ID show. Reporters were required to show ID twice before checking in to a crowded ballroom in a downtown Washington, D.C., hotel, where they had already pre-registered, while sniffer dogs roamed between their legs.

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  • Obama Asks Supporters to Push Congress on Gun Control

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama sought on Friday to enlist supporters to mount a public lobbying campaign on behalf of gun control in the wake of the mass killings in Newtown, Conn., suggesting that Congress would listen only if forced to by a populist backlash to gun violence.

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Dec 20, 2012

  • Obama vs. the NRA

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    There are two ways to kill a policy idea in Washington: Broaden it to include every interested person with an opinion, or appoint a commission. If you broaden it, it quickly becomes a cacophonous mess, and everyone throws up his or her hands. Commissions, almost by design, are where action goes for a nap. So when President Obama unveiled his preliminary response to the Newtown, Conn., massacre in his news conference on Wednesday—a commission headed by Vice President Joe Biden to drum up some wide-ranging recommendations—you might have had reason to worry that Obama wasn’t serious about committing himself to gun control.

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  • New Calls for Gun Limits

    By Laura Meckler and Gary Field, Wall Street Journal

    Several lawmakers Sunday called for reintroducing a ban on assault weapons in the wake of Friday's deadly school rampage. President Barack Obama is also likely to propose gun-policy changes, according to two administration officials.

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  • Obama and Boehner Diverge Sharply on Fiscal Plan

    By Jackie Calmes and Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times

    Hopes for a broad deficit-reduction agreement faded on Wednesday as President Obama insisted he had offered Republicans “a fair deal” while Speaker John A. Boehner moved for a House vote as early as Thursday on a scaled-down plan to limit tax increases to yearly incomes of $1 million and up, despite Senate opposition and Mr. Obama’s veto threat.

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  • GOP Unveils a 'Plan B' if Budget Talks Fail

    By Janey Hook, Carol E. Lee and Corey Boles, Wall Street Journal

    Despite progress toward agreement on a budget deal with the White House, House Republican leaders on Tuesday proposed a backup plan to prevent most Americans from facing an income-tax increase if negotiations collapse.

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  • The Most Consequential Candidates of 2012 Show the Art of Politics Is Interpretive

    By Reid Wilson, National Journal's Hotline

    Early next year, a Democrat will be sworn in as governor of red Montana. A Democrat will take her Senate seat in red North Dakota. Republican governors will gear up for reelection bids in blue Michigan and Wisconsin. They all won in spite of unfavorable political landscapes because candidates, and their campaigns, matter. A strong campaign and a sharp candidate can overcome long odds, while a weak campaign can wilt even with the wind at its back.

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Dec 19, 2012

  • Benghazi Attack Report: Security 'Grossly Inadequate'

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    The report on the terrorist attack that killed Ambassador Stevens is critical of protection measures.

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  • Obama Facing Critical Choice After Shooting

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    For President Obama, the massacre of schoolchildren in Connecticut has upended standard political calculations and has presented a choice that goes to the heart of his approach to governance, not just on guns but also on issues like climate change, immigration and even taxes.

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  • After Newtown, Will Obama Take Cue From Clinton?

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    More than 14 years ago, President Clinton told a roomful of interested parties at the White House, “We have to help schools recognize the early warning signs of violence and to respond to violence when it does strike.”

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  • Boehner’s Backup Tax Plan Shakes Up ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Negotiations

    By Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane, The Washington Post

    House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) veered off the bipartisan course he had been charting toward a broad tax-and-entitlement deal with President Obama and instead Tuesday pushed a GOP package to extend tax cuts for income up to $1 million.

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  • Could a Deal on the “Fiscal Cliff” Be Worthy of Spielberg?

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    “This is not Spielberg’s Lincoln, OK? You’re not going to pick these guys off one at a time,” Republican Rep. Tom Cole said to me in a recent conversation about fiscal-cliff negotiations between President Obama and Republicans. “We have one negotiator. His name is John Boehner.” President Lincoln passed the 13th Amendment by siphoning off enough Democrats to win passage. Cole says Obama can’t do the same thing with today’s House Republicans. Any deal that passes the House will do so with the majority of Republican support. “If he comes back and tells us, ‘This is a deal, I think it’s the best deal I can get, it’s an acceptable deal for the American people,’—the support will be there.”

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Dec 18, 2012

  • Long-Time Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye Dies at 88

    With Naftali Bendavid, Wall Street Journal

    Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii died Monday evening in Washington, D.C., after suffering respiratory failure. WSJ's Naftali Bendavid looks back at Sen. Inouye's life that spanned the WWII battlefields to almost nine consecutive terms in the U.S. Senate.

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  • Obama Makes A Substantial Counteroffer On Fiscal Deadline

    By Christi Parsons and Lisa Mascaro, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama trimmed his demand for tax increases on the wealthy Monday, making a substantial counteroffer as he and House Speaker John A. Boehner reconvened privately at the White House.

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