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!

Nov 30, 2011

  • Herman Cain reassessing presidential candidacy

    By Chris Cillizza and Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    Businessman Herman Cain told senior members of his campaign on a conference call this morning that he is reassessing whether or not to remain in the Republican presidential race. On the conference call, which National Review listened to and transcribed, Cain denies the allegation of an affair with an Atlanta woman named Ginger White, which came to light on Monday, but acknowledged that the “firestorm” had caused a rethinking.

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  • Barney Frank: Parting Shots

    By Janet Hook and Alan Zibel, Wall Street Journal

    Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.), Tuesday tried to knock down suggestions that his impending departure from Congress will make it easier to repeal the 2010 financial overhaul law named after him and Sen. Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.). “Financial reform is popular,” Mr. Frank said Tuesday at a press conference on Capitol Hill, the day after he announced he would retire at the end of next year.

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  • Cain, Support Eroding, Weighs Dropping Bid

    By Jeff Zeleny and Susan Saulny, New York Times

    The leading conservative voices who have come to Herman Cain’s defense began backing away on Tuesday as he acknowledged that he was reassessing his Republican presidential bid, uncertain that he could withstand a report of an extramarital affair after accusations of sexual harassment and stumbling foreign policy responses.

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  • 2012 analysis: Cain's campaign "reassessment"

    With John Dickerson, CBS

    CBS News political director John Dickerson speaks to the "Early Show" anchors about Herman Cain's campaign "reassessment" and the new South Carolina poll that shows Newt Gingrich ahead of Mitt Romney.

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  • Congress’s Year-End Alphabet Soup

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    It’s time for jargon and acronyms, that classic end-of-the-year game on Capitol Hill where serious policy is treated as farce. Here’s an example: The fate of the SGR “fix” might or might not be tied to the timing of the AMT “patch,” and both could influence the fate of UI. Get all that? Of course you didn’t. And neither will anyone else, not until the final days of this year of daggers-drawn legislative brawling.

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  • Central Banks Swing Into Action; Encouraging, Terrifying

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    Central bankers around the world are very, very worried about Europe, and they’re starting to do something about it. This is equal parts terrifying and encouraging. That’s the critical takeaway from the liquidity injection – a fancy way of saying, turning up the spigot on global lending – embarked upon on Wednesday by the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and four other central banks from around the globe. The coordinated effort will make it cheaper for foreign banks to borrow U.S. dollars from their central banks, which is important, because those banks have found it increasingly expensive to borrow dollars elsewhere to maintain cash flows.

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  • Dog-Whistling on Immigration Through Endorsements

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    For a fascinating study in contrasts, consider the dueling endorsements trotted out today by Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. Romney, who has taken a hardline position on immigration that emphasizes border security above all else, campaigned this morning in Miami with three current and former Cuban-American members of Congress who have all championed legislation that would offer a illegal immigrants a pathway to cititzenship. It's a coup for Romney to bring on board Mario Diaz-Balart, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, all of whom endorsed John McCain in the last election. Their support sends a message to the Hispanic community: We may not agree with him on immigration, but he's not a hater like Tom Tancredo, either.

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Nov 29, 2011

  • Battle of the Blemishes

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    The Republican presidential race is now dominated by giants: the giant flaws of the front-runners. With 36 days to go before the first votes are cast in Iowa, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich stand atop the field—familiar, formidable, and flawed. Romney has a history of shifting positions and supported the individual health care mandate. Gingrich has some of those same flaws plus a complicated personal history. The question for voters choosing between the two: Which candidate’s troubles are too big?

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  • Congressman Barney Frank to Retire

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    CNBC's John Harwood has the details on Barney Frank's planned retirement from Congress.

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  • Democrats Take Aim at Romney in New Ad

    By Jackie Calmes, New York Times

    The Democratic National Committee on Monday escalated its effort to define Mitt Romney, seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2012, as a flip-flopper with a new ad in five battleground states. Called “Trapped,” it is styled as a parody of a sci-fi movie trailer for “the story of two men trapped in one body.”

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  • Frank Won't Seek Re-Election

    By Janet Hook and Jennifer Levitz, Wall Street Journal

    Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.), an architect of last year's landmark financial-regulation overhaul, said Monday he wouldn't seek a 17th term, adding to a list of Democratic retirements that could hurt the party's already slim chances of retaking the House next year. The decision to leave Congress by Mr. Frank, the most high-profile Democrat to do so since 2010, will deprive liberals of one of their most outspoken champions and conservatives of a national political lightning rod.
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  • Gingrich Says He’s ‘Conservative Alternative’ to Romney

    By Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

    Newt Gingrich, who not long ago was urging his fellow Republican candidates to avoid tearing one another apart in pursuit of the party’s presidential nomination, took a new approach on Monday by explicitly declaring: “I don’t claim to be the perfect candidate; I just claim to be a lot more conservative than Mitt Romney.” With his candidacy on the rise, Mr. Gingrich opened a three-day campaign visit to South Carolina and warned Republicans to be suspicious of candidates who “adopt radically different positions.” It was a fresh glimpse into the sharpening tenor of the nominating fight as the first round of voting begins in five weeks.

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  • A Crude Hit to the Recovery

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    The U.S. economy missed out on creating up to a quarter-million jobs this year because it lacked the infrastructure to capitalize on a rare divergence in global oil prices, a National Journal analysis shows. Simply put, American consumers paid a historically high premium for their gasoline. The economy suffered for it.

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  • Barney Frank Exits, Stage Left

    With Eamon Javers, CNBC

    WNBC's Jonathan Dienst reports on liberal Massachusetts democratic congressman, Barney Frank leaving Capitol Hill, with CNBC's Eamon Javers.

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  • States face bleak economic forecast, report says

    By Michael A. Fletcher, Washington Post

    States are caught in a fiscal vise as weak economic growth, dwindling federal help and increasing appeals from hard-pressed local governments squeeze their budgets. Things have improved since the worst of the recession, but states still face a dire fiscal situation, according to a report to be released Tuesday by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO).

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  • Romney campaign hits back after Dem 'flip' charges

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Mitt Romney confronted double-barreled allegations Monday that he has flip-flopped on key issues, the first time the 2012 presidential campaign has focused squarely on what many see as the Republican contender's biggest political liability. The former Massachusetts governor hastily arranged for supporters to hold conference calls with reporters to combat a new Democratic ad that highlights his changed positions on abortion, immigration, guns and other issues.

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Nov 28, 2011

  • Storied Supreme Court: Justices Get Personal During Arguments

    By Joan Biskupic, USA Today

    "I don't usually like to reminisce," Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy began during a recent session of oral arguments. Then the 75-year-old justice recalled his days as a California trial lawyer as the basis for his question to the attorney standing before the bench.

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  • Will Romney’s immigration stance become his Latino problem?

    By Nia-Malika Henderson, Washington Post

    In dealing with the issue of immigration, Mitt Romney’s 2012 strategy is exactly like his 2008 strategy — run to the right, liberally use the words “amnesty” and “magnet,” and occasionally refer to illegal immigrants as simply “illegals.” The issue has emerged as one of the few where Romney has tried to credibly claim to be the most conservative candidate and where he has seemed to lose sight of the general election, where Latino voters will be crucial. So far, the strategy worked well with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whom Romney went after in an Oct. 8 debate.

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  • U.S., Pakistan offer different versions of attack on border post

    By Saeed Shah and Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    Tension between Pakistan and the United States over a U.S. air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers grew Sunday as the two sides offered widely disparate accounts of what might have taken place. NATO officials said Afghan and U.S. troops operating inside Afghanistan early Saturday had been fired on from the Pakistani side of the border and had requested close air support to help defend themselves. What happened next is still under investigation, officials said.

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  • Mitt Bashes Newt for Agreeing with Him on Immigration

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Bloomberg has a story today that quotes a 2006 interview with Mitt Romney, in which he took a dim view of the prospect of deporting illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S. Romney's comments are at odds with the position he took last week when he assailed Republican rival Newt Gingrich's call for a "humane'' immigration policy that doesn't target longtime undocumented residents. Romney accused Gingrich of opening "a new doorway to amnesty.''

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