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!

Jun 03, 2014

  • America’s Next Decider

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    T-minus 12 days and counting until June 10, when Hillary Clinton launches her campaign. That’s the date of the release of her book, Hard Choices, though the campaign has really already begun. On Wednesday a video was posted to the book’s Facebook page in which Clinton explained what she was trying to say. The day before, her publisher released the Author’s Note. Last week Simon & Schuster released a video in which Clinton discussed the writing process. Two weeks ago an excerpt ran in Vogue in which Clinton talked about her mother. The day before Clinton’s book hits stores, Diane Sawyer will sit down to interview the former secretary of state. And on and on the caravan will go. (Modern Dog magazine may have rights to the canine passages.)

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Jun 02, 2014

  • Unveiling New Carbon Plan, E.P.A. Focuses on Flexibility

    By Coral Davenport, The New York Times

    The Obama administration on Monday announced one of the strongest actions ever taken by the United States government to fight climate change, a proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulation to cut carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, according to people briefed on the plan.

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  • Hagel Celebrates U.S. Soldier’s Release With a Surprise Afghan Visit

    By Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had departed for Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany eight hours before, but that did not stop Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel from taking a figurative victory lap around this base to celebrate the release of the lone remaining American prisoner of war in the Afghan conflict.

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  • Bergdahl release arrangement could threaten the safety of Americans, Republicans say

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    Amid jubilation Saturday over the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from captivity by the Taliban, senior Republicans on Capitol Hill said they were troubled by the means by which it was accomplished, which was a deal to release five Afghan detainees from the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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    By Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein, Politico

    The ritual started in earnest last fall in the midst of the biggest humiliation of Barack Obama’s presidency, the failure of the health care website. Anytime he heard a sliver of good news, the president reacted the same way: He knocked on the polished cherry wood table in the Roosevelt Room.

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  • Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman introduces proposal to overhaul VA

    By Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

    Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced a far-reaching proposal Sunday to overhaul health care for the nation’s veterans that would make it easier for the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs to hire and fire employees, lease new space for clinics and hospitals, and send veterans to outside providers if care isn’t available within 30 days.

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  • At Republican Leadership Conference, the struggle over the GOP’s future continues

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    There was plenty of strong rhetoric coming from the stage at the Republican Leadership Conference here this weekend. From “Duck Dynasty’s” Phil Robertson to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to a succession of others, the call for a return to first principles and strict adherence to conservative convictions was loud and clear.

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May 30, 2014

  • Shinseki Resigns as Veterans Affairs Chief Amid Furor Over Hospitals

    By Michael D. Shear, The New York Times

    Eric Shinseki resigned as secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department Friday after meeting face-to-face with President Obama about mounting evidence of widespread misconduct and mismanagement at the agency’s vast network of medical facilities.

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  • Calls for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign intensify following watchdog report

    By Greg Jaffe and Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

    Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki made an impassioned case Thursday to Democratic lawmakers and veterans groups that he can repair the Department of Veterans Affairs, even as calls for his resignation mounted and support from the White House appeared to wane.

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  • Lawmakers to Obama: Shinseki must go

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Confidence in Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki disintegrated further Thursday on Capitol Hill, where a rising chorus of lawmakers in both parties said he should resign and let new leadership address systemic problems at VA medical centers.

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  • Critics Trash Obama’s Big Foreign Policy Address

    By Michael Crowley, TIME Magazine

    At West Point on Wednesday, President Barack Obama took his latest stab at defining a foreign policy vision he has spelled out many times before. His speech was less a grand intellectual exercise than a political gambit — meant to stanch a recent torrent of criticism about his foreign policy woes.

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  • Bush and Obama at West Point: Bookends of a Foreign Policy Era

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    Two presidents. One stage. A dozen years apart.

    One was speaking to the West Point graduating class that would be the first to go off to a kind of war this country had never fought before. In that June 1, 2002, commencement address, George W. Bush made the case that in the post 9/11 era, " If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long. ... Our security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives."

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  • Obama says sports must take concussions more seriously

    By Christi Parsons, Tribune Newspapers

    President Obama said Thursday that he may have suffered a mild concussion more than once while playing football as a child, recalling a "ringing sensation" in his head that he simply shook off.

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May 29, 2014

  • Rebutting Critics, Obama Seeks Higher Bar for Military Action

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    As President Obama listens to assessments of his foreign policy these days, he grows deeply frustrated. Syria? Ukraine? Afghanistan? What more do his critics want him to do? Get into another war? Keep fighting one that has already become America’s longest?

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  • What Obama didn't explain in his foreign policy speech at West Point

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama’s foreign policy speech at West Point on Wednesday didn’t break any new ground, not even rhetorically. But it wasn’t intended to. It was meant as a rebuttal, an answer to critics who have harried Obama for months complaining that America’s adversaries (Russia, China and Syria, for example) are pursuing their goals with more success than the United States has found in stopping them.

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  • Barack Obama still undecided on Eric Shinseki

    By Edward-Isaac Dovere and Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico

    President Barack Obama hasn’t decided to fire Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki — at least, not yet.

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  • Calls for Eric Shinseki’s resignation grow among Republicans, Democrats

    By Ed O'Keefe and Wesley Lowery, The Washington Post

    Three senior Republican lawmakers and two Democratic senators running for reelection for the first time Wednesday called on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki to resign following the release of a new report confirming allegations about wait times at a veterans facility in Phoenix, a signal that more members of both political parties are likely to follow suit in coming days.

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  • Obama delays deportation review to give immigration bill a chance

    By Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama will not make changes to the nation's deportation system for at least two months in order to give House Republican leaders more time to search for votes for an overhaul of immigration laws, administration officials said Wednesday.

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  • Drugs Can Reach Patients Faster and Cheaper, FDA Chief Says

    By Anna Edney and Alex Wayne, Bloomberg News

    A new program that lets drugmakers move more quickly through the approval process for breakthrough products may help lower the cost of life-saving treatments, the nation’s chief drug regulator said today.

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May 28, 2014

  • Obama’s Foreign Policy Speech Sounds Familiar

    By Michael Crowley, TIME Magazine

    For all the hype, President Barack Obama’s foreign policy speech at West Point on Wednesday didn’t break much new ground.

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