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 31, 2012

  • On Google+, Big Question for Obama Is Weeded Out

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    President Obama did not tackle the subject most on the minds of some questioners during an online forum Monday. What drew many citizens to a Google+ chat with the president was their interest in how soon marijuana could be legalized, according to the rated popularity of questions posted before the event.
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  • Daughter’s Illness is Quandary for Santorum

    By Nia-Malika Henderson and Rosalind S. Helderman, Washington Post

    GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, campaigning under the banner “faith, family and freedom,” has made his life story central to his political identity. He often mentions his seven kids — one of whom is gravely ill — a son who died hours after birth, and his wife of two decades as proof that he not only preaches conservative values but lives by them in his daily life.
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  • GOP Race's Approaching Lull Will Test Gingrich

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    The caffeinated, rapid-fire GOP presidential primary is about to ease into a slower pace and a more spread-out map, creating new challenges for Newt Gingrich. February will bring several primaries and caucuses likely to lack the intensity of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida. It has only one debate, three weeks from now.
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Jan 30, 2012

  • In the Florida Primary, Will Nine-Iron or Bass-Boat Republicans Prevail?

    With Major Garrett, National Journal

    How would you describe the match-up between Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney? Heart vs. Head? Underdog vs. perennial front-runner? Outsider vs. establishment?

    Read More and Watch Video on National Journal

  • Death of Bipartisanship Has Killed the Washington Deal

    By John F. Harris and Jonathan Allen, Politico

    Every time there is divided government in Washington, there is a revival — among elite journalists, think tank commentators and respectable politicians of all stripes — of a cherished idea about how business should get done in the nation’s capital: Get the most responsible adults of both parties in one room, shoo away the cameras and microphones, and don’t let the two sides come out until they have cut a deal on the most pressing problem of the day.
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    President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (CNN)

  • A Gingrich Presidency?

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that if Mitt Romney won the South Carolina primary, the Republican presidential race would be over and he would be the nominee. But Romney didn't win, and that means it's time to consider the unthinkable: What would life under President Gingrich be like? It's an easy question to answer because Gingrich has spent much of his campaign listing all the things he wants to do — not only in his first term or his first 100 days but in his first eight hours.
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  • Can You Hear Me Now?

    By Greg Ip, The Economist

    Japan holds the modern record for years spent with interest rates at zero; they were on the floor from 2001 to 2006. America is on track to break that record. Having cut its short-term rate to near zero in late 2008, the Federal Reserve said on January 25th it will probably stay there “at least through late 2014”, more than a year longer than its previous guidance.
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  • Polls Show Romney Surging Ahead of Gingrich in Florida

    By Steve Holland and Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Republican Newt Gingrich struggled to halt surging rival Mitt Romney's momentum on Sunday, accusing him of launching false attacks as polls showed Romney widening his lead two days before Florida's presidential primary. Romney, who has battered Gingrich in a flood of television ads and two debates in Florida last week, opened a double-digit lead over the former House of Representatives speaker in four polls released on Sunday.
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  • Gingrich Vows to Ban Embryonic Stem-Cell Research, Questions In Vitro Practices

    By Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    As former House speaker Newt Gingrich courts evangelical voters in advance of Tuesday’s Florida primary, he is drawing an increasingly hard line against the use of embryonic stem-cell research — a position that contrasts not only with that of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, but also with statements that Gingrich himself has made on the subject in the past.
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  • In Iran's Oil Gambit, EU Nations Have Much To Lose

    By Tom Gjelten, NPR

    The Europeans are in the midst of their most serious economic crisis in 60 years, and now they're hearing it's not just their own fate they have to consider: The whole global economy hangs in the balance. The International Monetary Fund last week warned that if Europe's problems get any worse, it could push the entire world back into recession.
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  • A Florida Bush Stays Silent, and to Many, That Says a Lot

    By Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

    A steady stream of endorsements has been flowing to Mitt Romney, with his campaign promoting Republicans who are giving their blessing to his presidential candidacy. Yet on the eve of the Florida primary, he has been unable to land the biggest catch of all: Jeb Bush.
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  • Female Candidates for Congress on Upward Trend

    By Susan Davis, USA TODAY

    The roster of congressional candidates for this year's elections is taking shape and one trend is emerging: 2012 could be another "Year of the Woman" in American politics. The moniker was famously applied in 1992 when four women were elected to the Senate, a high watermark for the chamber that has never been surpassed.
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  • Gingrich Rattles GOP Elite

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Republican insiders are rising up to cut Newt Gingrich down to size, testament to the GOP establishment's fear that the mercurial candidate could lead the party to disaster this fall. The gathering criticisms are bitingly sharp, as if edged by a touch of panic, a remarkable development considering the target once was speaker of the House and will go down in history as leader of the Republicans' 1994 return to power in Congress.
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    Former GOP Candidate Herman Cain endorses Newt Gingrich (CNN)

Jan 27, 2012

  • Defense Budget Plan Doesn't Cut as Deeply as Pentagon Says

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    Pentagon officials unveiled the outlines Thursday of what they called a pared-down defense budget, but their request increases baseline spending beyond the projected end of the Afghan war, even as they plan to reduce ground forces.
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  • Romney Fights Back

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Mitt Romney may not drink, but he was loaded when he entered last night’s debate in Jacksonville, Fla. He went after Newt Gingrich immediately and relentlessly. He scolded him, rendered him momentarily mute, and took answers about other topics and turned them into attacks on Gingrich on key issues like excessive government spending. Romney didn't just have good answers, he looked like a man in command of himself. His new debate coach Brett O'Donnell should double his fees.
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  • Gingrich Regains National Lead Over Romney: Poll

    By John Harwood, CNBC

    Newt Gingrich has regained a national lead over Mitt Romney among Republican voters, who value a candidate’s positions on issues more than the ability to defeat President Obama in the fall, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
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  • Obama’s Brewer Encounter Sidetracks Message

    By Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News

    President Barack Obama’s encounter with Arizona governor Jan Brewer yesterday on an airport tarmac in Phoenix sidetracked the administration’s effort to keep the media focused on the president’s message.
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  • Analysis: Romney is Fiery, Focused in Fla. Debate

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Mitt Romney, forced to prove his resilience after a stinging loss in South Carolina, is showing why the so-called Republican establishment thinks he has the best discipline, organization and campaign smarts to challenge President Barack Obama this fall.
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  • Dole vs. Gingrich: The GOP Empire Strikes Back

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    After arriving in Florida like a rolling ball of butcher knives, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is looking less edgy and more flabby by the hour. The last four polls in Florida now show Mitt Romney back ahead (the previous four had Gingrich up). That's at least in part because Republicans-–some conservative, some semiconservative, and some conveniently conservative–-are attacking Gingrich as a walking, talking party menace; a flu-like contagion who will lose the presidency and contaminate down-ballot Republicans with erratic extremism.
    Read More from National Journal

  • The True State of Our Union: Introduction

    By Alexis Simendinger and Carl M. Cannon, RealClearPolitics

    Listening to Barack Obama’s lengthy State of the Union address in the same week the Republican presidential candidates held more debates in their incessant series was to visit two parallel universes. The economy is getting better. Nope, the economy is a disaster. We need to change the tax code so the rich pay “their fair share.” Oh, no: We need to change the tax code to starve Washington and put more money in all Americans' pockets. Business needs to be regulated. Business needs to be unfettered.
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