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!

Feb 03, 2012

  • Happy New Year

    By Greg Ip, The Economist

    Is the jobs recovery finally for real? It certainly feels that way. Before getting into the caveats, let's look at January's solid employment report. Non-farm employment jumped 243,000, or 0.2%, from December, the best in nine months. The unemployment rate fell to 8.3%, a three-year low, from 8.5%.
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    President Obama speaks about the new unemployment numbers at a fire house in Arlington, VA (CNN)

  • The New Normal

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Mitt Romney was so chipper on the eve of Florida’s Republican primary that instead of reciting a few verses of “America the Beautiful” as he frequently does on the stump, he let down his guard and sang. The presidential candidate was contemplating his first big-state win and a favorable forecast for February, with contests scheduled in a number of friendly states and three weeks without any nationally televised debates in which he might be upstaged. Warbling, albeit off-key, was in order.
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  • Panetta Surprises Afghans, NATO With Earlier Date for End of Combat Mission

    By Yochi J. Dreazen, National Journal

    Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s comment while en route to a NATO conference in Brussels -- that the U.S. would end its combat mission in Afghanistan in 2013, a year earlier than thought -- surprised key U.S. allies, alarmed many Afghans, and forced the White House to spend more than a day trying to walk it back.
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  • Fact Check: Romney on the Recession

    By Jackie Calmes, New York Times

    Mitt Romney is back to saying that President Obama “made it worse” – the recession, that is – but his charge remains factually challenged. Accepting the endorsement of Donald Trump, a former rival for the Republican presidential nomination, in Las Vegas on Thursday, Mr. Romney said of the president: “He’s frequently telling us that he did not cause the recession, and that’s true. But he made it worse.”
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  • White House Scrambles to Ease Fallout from Panetta's Afghanistan Comments

    By Jonathan S. Landay and Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    The Obama administration scrambled Thursday to tamp down the fallout out from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's surprise announcement that the United States would end its combat role in Afghanistan a year earlier than expected — a revelation that heightened confusion over U.S. strategy and stoked Afghan distrust of American intentions.
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  • Romney Plays Trump Card in Las Vegas

    By Sam Youngman and Ros Krasny, Reuters

    After stumbling with remarks suggesting he was indifferent to America's poor, Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney was endorsed on Thursday by one of the country's most famous wealthy businessmen - real estate mogul and reality television star Donald Trump.
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  • Romney's Evolution on Women: How Deep Does It Go?

    By Coral Davenport, National Journal

    Mitt Romney has a picture-perfect 42-year marriage, a solid record of naming women to his teams, and a good case to make that he has evolved with the times when it comes to the role of women. It’s his role as a Mormon church leader that could give some women pause and prove challenging if he wins the Republican nomination and must compete with President Obama.
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  • Romney Criticizes Afghan Pullout Plan, but Obama Is Eager for the Debate

    By Mark Landler and Helene Cooper, New York Times

    It did not take long for Mitt Romney to pounce on Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s statement Wednesday that American troops could end their combat role in Afghanistan by mid-2013, 18 months sooner than expected. Within hours, Mr. Romney lambasted it as “naïve” and “misguided.”
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Feb 02, 2012

  • Who Cares About the Poor?

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Mitt Romney is now being protected by the Secret Service. Unfortunately for him, they were not in a position to jump in front of his comments Wednesday morning. The day after his Florida triumph, Romney told CNN: “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”
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  • Money Behind Mitt Romney

    With Eamon Javers, CNBC

    Mitt Romney crushed Newt Gingrich in the Florida primary. New papers today show some of those who helped bank roll the big win, with CNBC's Eamon Javers.

    Watch Video on CNBC

  • The Gingrich playbook

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Newt Gingrich says he's staying in the Republican presidential race all the way to the GOP convention in August, and that he's willing — even eager — to fight for the nomination on the convention floor. But does he have a chance? Gingrich and his aides seem to think so, and they have a theory of how they can wrest the nomination from Mitt Romney.
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  • Romney and the Poor: An Unforced Error by the GOP Front-Runner

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    After a week of near-perfect campaign execution that culminated in a blowout victory over his top rival, Mitt Romney awoke in Florida ready to tighten his grip on the Republican presidential nomination and turn his attention and rhetoric toward the general election. Instead, Romney committed what in tennis is known as an unforced error, setting off on a mission of declaring solidarity with the middle class but ending up in a thicket of class politics that did everything but describe America's poor as coddled.
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  • Is There Hope for Obama in Fla. Results? A Sliver.

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    Florida's Republican primary results may have offered President Obama and his campaign team fresh evidence that gives them pause about the incumbent's chances for a win in November. The list of worries in Florida looks longer than the bright spots for the president at the moment, based on Tuesday's returns, exit polling and interviews with authorities who know the state's politics.
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  • Obama Announces Refinancing Plan

    With Laura Meckler, Wall Street Journal

    President Barack Obama announced a fresh bid Wednesday to revive the housing market by letting millions of homeowners refinance their mortgages, Laura Meckler reports on the News Hub.
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  • Unit Leader Among Marines Who Urinated on Corpses

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    One of the Marines shown urinating on three corpses in Afghanistan in a widely distributed Internet video was the unit's leader, two U.S. military officials have told McClatchy, raising concerns that poor command standards contributed to an incident that may have damaged the U.S. war effort.
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  • Panetta: U.S. to Wind Down Combat Mission in Afghanistan Next Year

    By Yochi J. Dreazen, National Journal

    Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that the U.S.-led NATO coalition would end its combat role in Afghanistan next year, the clearest indication yet that the Obama administration is accelerating its plans to wind down the long and unpopular Afghan war. “Hopefully by mid- to the latter part of 2013, we’ll be able to make a transition from a combat role to a training, advise, and assist role,” The Washington Post said Panetta told reporters accompanying him to Brussels.
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  • Obama Doesn’t Name Names in Campaign

    By Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News

    President Barack Obama doesn’t utter Mitt Romney’s name in speeches and public remarks. He just uses the Republican front-runner’s words. “It is wrong for anyone to suggest that the only option for struggling responsible homeowners is to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom,” Obama said yesterday in Falls Church, Virginia, announcing his latest housing proposal.
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  • For Romney Campaign, Race Unfolding Almost Precisely as Predicted

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    No one would deny that the Republican presidential race has had more than its share of surprises and unexpected twists. But there has been a curious predictability to it as well, one that conforms closely to the expectations and preparations established months ago at the Boston headquarters of Mitt Romney’s campaign.
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    Mitt Romney addresses supporters in Las Vegas, NV (CNN)

Feb 01, 2012

  • Romney Has Obama in His Sights, But Won't Give Gingrich Free Ride

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Don’t be fooled by Mitt Romney’s victory speech in Florida, which was aimed squarely at President Obama. He didn’t mention the leading thorn-in-his-side Republican, Newt Gingrich, but he's going to make sure voters hear a lot about Gingrich as long as he stays in the race.
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  • Romney Wins Florida in A Landslide

    With Eamon Javers, CNBC

    CNBC's Eamon Javers has the highlights from Florida's primary and the negative campaigning between candidates.

    Watch Video on CNBC