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!

Dec 12, 2011

  • Romney's $10,000 Bet Falls Flat in Iowa Debate

    By Sam Youngman, Thomson Reuters

    Romney, a multi-millionaire and a frontrunner for the Republican nomination, offered a $10,000 bet to opponent Texas Gov. Rick Perry in an argument over what Romney wrote about healthcare in his book "No Apologies." Former Massachusetts governor Romney tried to bet that he had not supported implementing an individual healthcare mandate, mistrusted by conservatives.

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  • Romney and Other Republicans Scramble to Blunt Gingrich’s Momentum

    By Philip Rucker and Dan Balz, Washington Post

    Mitt Romney scrambled Sunday to try to blunt the momentum of Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich after a Saturday night debate that saw the two candidates clash repeatedly over who is better equipped temperamentally and substantively to be the party’s nominee. The Iowa debate framed the issues and the arguments for the coming phase of a Republican nominating contest that has turned dramatically in just the past two weeks.

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  • U.S. Troops Leaving Iraq This Year; Obama Could Benefit Next Year

    By Ari Shapiro, NPR

    The last American troops are coming home from Iraq this month, and President Obama is marking the occasion with a series of events to commemorate the conclusion of the war. On Wednesday at Fort Bragg, N.C., he and the first lady will thank troops for their service.

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  • One Nation, Under Arms

    By Todd S. Purdum, Vanity Fair

    They rest in 330 acid-free archival boxes in climate-controlled storage at Princeton University. To pore over the collected papers of George F. Kennan in the cool fluorescent light is to witness the transformation of the United States from the comparatively simple sleeping giant it was before World War II into the complex national-security state it has become. Kennan, who died in 2005 at the age of 101, devoted the first part of his career to diplomacy at the highest levels, in Moscow and Washington, and then spent the remaining half-century as a scholar, historian, and unsparing critic of the American imperium he had helped to create.

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  • Iowa Caucuses are Still First, But are They No Longer Foremost?

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    Four years ago, Iowa was awash in presidential candidates crisscrossing the state. Campaign headquarters were packed with staffers and volunteers. The airwaves were clogged with political commercials. Excitement was palpable. Today, everything seems different. Iowa still holds its coveted position as the state whose caucuses will mark the opening of the Republican presidential nomination process. What happens here Jan. 3 will still have a major impact on the Republican race. But at least for this presidential cycle, Iowa has lost much of the unique character that has marked previous campaigns.

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  • Living Wage

    By Coral Davenport, National Journal

    What’s the value of a human life? That would be $9.1 million, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA uses that figure, derived from a hefty body of economic research, to weigh the costs and benefits of new pollution rules slashing coal-plant emissions of mercury, soot, arsenic, and other toxins. Those regulations, of course, are now the target of an all-out assault by Republicans and the coal industries.

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  • Debate Wrap-Up

    With Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

    Jeff Zeleny reports on the latest Republican presidential debate, with Newt Gingrich the clear front-runner and Mitt Romney offering a $10,000 bet to Rick Perry.

    Watch Video on NYTimes
  • High Court Will Look at State Immigration Laws

    By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY

    The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will take up a dispute over an Arizona law that requires police to check the status of people stopped or arrested if officers suspect they are here illegally. The Obama administration had asked the high court to stay out the closely watched case at this early phase, arguing it should let lower court judges examine the constitutionality of the law first.

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  • Race Reshaped, Rivals Target Gingrich in GOP Debate

    By Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

    Newt Gingrich offered a robust defense of his views on the Middle East, his lucrative work after leaving Congress and his conservative credentials during a spirited debate here on Saturday night as his Republican presidential rivals urged voters to take a hard look at his candidacy.

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  • All change

    By Greg Ip, The Economist

    The World Trade Organisation (WTO), like many clubs, denies patrons the right of automatic readmission. Having quit the organisation’s predecessor shortly after the Communist revolution of 1949, China had to wait 15 long years to gain entry after reapplying in the 1980s. The doors finally opened on December 11th 2001, ten years ago this week. The price of re-entry was as steep as the wait was long.

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  • Looking Up

    By Greg Ip, The Economist

    Three months ago Barack Obama was firmly in the dock over news that no net jobs were created in August. Some gloomy people even saw a double-dip recession on the way. America, it turns out, was not on the verge of recession, and it still isn’t. Subsequent revisions show that 104,000 jobs were in fact created in August. Later months have also been revised upwards, and in November payrolls grew by 120,000, or 0.1%.

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  • Critics Struggle to Explain Gingrich’s Rise in Polls

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Newt Gingrich’s rapid rise in presidential polls has left veteran Republicans scratching their heads, and not just because he vaulted from far back to lead Mitt Romney in several key states. They’re trying to figure out why the former House speaker is supported by GOP voters who think he’s not particularly honest and doesn’t share their values.

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  • President Obama's Campaign Mode

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    CNBC's John Harwood has the details on criticism that President Obama is facing from Democrats that he isn't doing enough and an update on GOP candidates campaign efforts.

    Watch Video on CNBC
  • For Gingrich, No Bombast or Apologies

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Newt Gingrich is trying to preserve his rapid rise in the GOP presidential race by defending his most controversial stands without appearing to be the thin-skinned hothead his critics often describe. The former House speaker seemed to accomplish that goal in Saturday's debate in Iowa. His challenge will be to sustain the strategy while rivals attack him on the airwaves and the ground, and to convince conservative voters that he's their champion despite his occasional departures from orthodoxy.

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  • Obama sides with the 99%

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Conservatives were quick to accuse President Obama of embracing class warfare in his speech last week in Osawatomie, Kan. And liberal Democrats were thrilled to see a hint of the populist president they had hoped they were voting for in 2008. The polarized reactions suggest that Obama's speech succeeded in one of its goals: to frame the 2012 election as a clear choice between two philosophies, a contest he might be able to win, instead of a referendum on his own unhappy economic record.

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  • Hey, Remember the ’80s?

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    Newt Gingrich’s economic plan is not Reaganesque. It is not, as so many of his Republican presidential rivals’ claim their plans to be, inspired by Reaganomics. It is Reaganomics, cryogenically frozen in 1981, thawed 30 years later, and pumped full of Newt-style steroids in order to save the American people from slow growth. The plan features massive tax cuts (which would largely benefit businesses and the wealthy), less government spending (through the privatization of entitlement programs), interest-rate hikes, and rampant deregulation.

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Dec 09, 2011

  • Some say Romney's poke at Obama's golf is old news

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Ah, Christmas traditions: colored lights, mistletoe and criticisms of a president's vacation plans. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is hammering President Barack Obama for playing golf and planning his usual family Christmas in Hawaii. Obama should spend more time fixing the economy, says Romney, who is using the issue to raise money.

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  • Parties United in Grilling Corzine Over Missing Funds

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics


    Jon Corzine managed to bring together two parties Thursday afternoon in the House Agriculture Committee, where the former New Jersey governor and ex-senator spoke publicly for the first time since his company, MF Global Inc., tumbled into bankruptcy last month. It has not been easy in Washington lately to witness a meeting of the minds on any subject, but in the wake of the fall of Lehman Brothers and the economy’s bungee dive in 2008, the sight of another well-heeled Wall Street executive drew crowds when he tried to respond to questions about ethics, potential illegalities and a mystery about missing money.
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  • How To Attack Newt

    by John Dickerson, Slate

    Mitt Romney is running for president as a turnaround artist, but before he can turn around the economy he'll have to do something about his campaign. Newt Gingrich has built a huge lead over Romney in various state polls, attracting nearly double the support.

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  • NPR's Fresh Air: Gingrich's Path From 'Flameout' To D.C. Entrepreneur

    With Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    A new poll released Wednesday by Time magazine and CNN finds Newt Gingrich staying ahead of Mitt Romney in three out of the four states with January primaries or caucuses.

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