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 25, 2012

  • McCain: GOP Debates are 'Damaging' to Nominee

    By Susan Davis, USA TODAY

    Former presidential nominee John McCain is part of a growing chorus of leading Republican voices who worry the exhaustive lineup of GOP primary debates will be harmful to the eventual nominee.
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  • Obama Stresses Fairness in Building Durable Recovery

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    President Obama, accused by his Republican opponents of making a rocky economy worse, used his third State of the Union address to argue to tens of millions of prospective voters that he is the leader with the passion for fairness, and the policy vision, to deliver an "America built to last." The president wrapped that phrase around his efforts to revive an economy still deeply shaken by a housing bubble, corporate excesses pegged to complex financial bets and borrowed money, and rules seemingly rigged against the little guy.
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  • SOTU: Obama on the Economy

    WIth David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    The President spoke about the state of the American economy Tuesday night in his third State of the Union address.

    Watch Video on Wall Street Journal

  • Supreme Court Rorschach Test on Voting Rights

    By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY

    As state legislatures have increasingly used sophisticated computers to draw voting maps configured to their political interests, districts have taken on odder shapes and prompted cracks about Rorschach ink blots. Friday’s Supreme Court decision in the Texas voting rights case offered its own kind of Rorschach test.
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  • Obama Makes Populist Pitch

    By Laura Meckler and Carol E. Lee, Wall Street Journal

    President Barack Obama offered Americans a populist economic vision in his State of the Union address Tuesday, seeking to draw a contrast with his eventual Republican rival and demonstrating the widening policy gulf between the two political parties.
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  • Gingrich Wants to Hear his Debate Fans Roar

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, coming off one of his most subdued debate performances of the campaign, signaled on Tuesday he may skip future debates unless his supporters are given full license to clap, cheer and roar. Gingrich complained that NBC News moderator Brian Williams had told the crowd to be silent before Monday's debate in Tampa in an effort to stifle free speech and prevent the audience from turning on the media.
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  • State of the Union? More Like State of the Campaign

    By John Harwood, New York Times

    Republicans have good reason to believe that President Obama’s goals in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night were more partisan than presidential. Mr. Obama has shifted into full-bore campaigning. He expects little from Congress this year beyond the extension of existing payroll tax cuts. His highest-profile initiatives are designed to enhance his re-election prospects.
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    President Obama delivers his State of the Union Address to Congress (CNN)

  • Mitt Romney Tax Returns Make Him a Personal Embodiment of GOP Tax Policy

    By Lori Montgomery and Jia Lynn Yang, Washington Post

    With the release of his tax returns Tuesday, Mitt Romney has emerged as Exhibit A in a political battle likely to define the 2012 election: how to tax the rich. To Democrats, Romney is benefiting from an unfair tax code that permits a man who made nearly $21 million last year to pay just 15 percent in federal taxes. In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama said those earning more than $1 million a year can afford to pay more and should send at least 30 percent of their income to Washington.
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  • The Swing States of Our Union Are Strong

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    In the 2011 State of the Union, the president used the phrase "win the future" or a variant over and over and over again. A year later, the future is not won, but the slogan has lost. "Built to last" was the message for the 2012 State of the Union speech. Despite continued unsteadiness in the economy, the slogan-manufacturing sector is healthy.
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Jan 24, 2012

  • Gingrich Releases Freddie & Fannie Deal

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    GOP candidate, Newt Gingrich released his consulting contract with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

  • What exactly would President Obama do in a second term?

    By John Harris and Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico

    Take this quiz: If President Barack Obama wins a second term, he has promised that he will do … what exactly? There are people who follow the president closely who couldn’t answer that question. And even those who try would surely find themselves disagreeing with one another.

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  • Tracking Suspects via GPS

    By Pete Williams, NBC News

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

  • Analysis: Romney tries pit bull approach in Fla.

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Mitt Romney spent years building a presidential candidacy based on corporate success, a squeaky clean image and an aura of electability that let him focus on President Barack Obama rather than his GOP rivals. South Carolina Republicans destroyed that strategy in an instant, saying they see Newt Gingrich, not Romney, as the man best positioned to beat Obama. Romney, who cast aside several moderate positions after leaving the Massachusetts governorship, repositioned himself in a more tactical sense Monday, tearing into Florida like a hungry underdog.

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  • Obama to Submit Budget to Congress Feb. 13

    By Julianna Goldman and Roger Runningen, Bloomberg

    President Barack Obama will submit his proposed fiscal 2013 budget to Congress on Feb. 13, an administration official said. The election-year proposal, a reflection of Obama’s policies, will outline proposed revenue and spending plans for the year that begins Oct. 1, along with deficit, inflation, unemployment and economic growth forecasts.

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  • Mitt Romney’s tax returns shed some light on his investment wealth

    By Lori Montgomery, Jia Lynn Yang and Philip Rucker, The Washington Post

    Mitt Romney offered a partial snapshot of his vast personal fortune late Monday, disclosing income of $21.7 million in 2010 and $20.9 million last year — virtually all of it profits, dividends or interest from investments. None came from wages, the primary source of income for most Americans. Instead, Romney and his wife, Ann, collected millions in capital gains from a profusion of investments, as well as stock dividends and interest payments.

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  • Bipartisan seating unlikely to mask divide in Congress

    By Susan Davis, National Journal

    As part of an assignment for a history class, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's son has to monitor where lawmakers are seated during President Obama's State of the Union Address tonight. "I'm sure it is part of this, 'We're all sitting together" tradition," Cantor said Monday.

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  • Mark Kelly to Join First Lady for State of the Union

    By Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    Capt. Mark Kelly, the husband of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, will sit with Michelle Obama in the first lady’s box at Tuesday’s State of the Union speech, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said on Monday. Ms. Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, is expected to attend the speech along with other lawmakers. She announced on Sunday that she would resign her seat this week in order to focus on her recovery after an assassination attempt in Tucson a year ago.

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  • White House to Release Budget Proposal Feb. 13

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    President Obama’s final budget proposal of his term, covering fiscal year 2013 and the decade beyond, will be released on Feb. 13, a week later than officials had previously indicated. The Office of Management and Budget notified reporters of the timing on Monday in an e-mail without explanation, though a spokesman said the extra time was needed “to finalize technical and programmatic decisions.” The administration had not committed to releasing the budget on Feb. 6, but that date had been talked about for weeks.

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  • Mewt Gromney

    by John Dickerson, Slate

    Florida is a haven for retirees, and Newt Gingrich seemed like one during the GOP debate in Tampa Monday night. Instead of the firebrand he’s been in the previous seventeen outings, he was in a constant state of repose, ducking attacks, tolerating moderators, and generally just paddling around in the shallow waves hoping for a nice soak. Mitt Romney was shark-like: He wore a permanent smile and attacked with emotionless precision.

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  • Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich clash sharply in Republican presidential debate

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich clashed sharply and repeatedly in a Republican presidential debate here Monday night, with the former Massachusetts governor attacking the former House speaker as a failed leader, a K Street influence peddler and a candidate who would put the party at risk in the general election.

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