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 10, 2012

  • Supreme Court to Consider Broadcast Standards

    By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY

    The George Carlin "filthy words" monologue that changed the law for broadcasters more than three decades ago went on for 12 minutes and contained seven expletives the comedian kept repeating. The episodes at the heart of a new case testing government regulation of indecency involved one-time expletives by Cher and Nicole Richie at Fox Television's Billboard Awards and a brief shot of a woman's naked posterior on ABC's NYPD Blue.
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  • Romney Supporters Applaud His Remark on Firing People

    By Danny Yadron and Janet Hook, Wall Street Journal

    There appears to be least one voting bloc that doesn’t care whether Mitt Romney has ever really feared a pink slip or actually likes firing people: Romney supporters. Mr. Romney spent most of Monday defending his brand of capitalism after Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman piled on the former governor for appearing out-of-touch. But his backers offered a variety of reasons for why the attacks fell flat.
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    GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney (FlickrCC/Gage Skidmore)

  • For Jon Huntsman, New Hampshire Primary Could be Now or Never

    By Sandhya Somashekhar and Nia-Malika Henderson, Washington Post

    Tuesday will be a day of reckoning for at least one of the Republican presidential hopefuls: Jon Huntsman, whose quirky and quietly rogue candidacy hinges entirely on a strong showing in the nation’s first primary. Huntsman went for broke here, skipping Iowa and spending virtually the entire campaign in a state that seemed more receptive to his moderate views.
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Jan 09, 2012

  • William Daley to Step Down as Obama's Chief of Staff

    By Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    William Daley is stepping down as White House chief of staff and budget director Jack Lew is taking over the President Obama’s team as it heads into a tough election year, senior administration officials say. Daley gave his letter of resignation to the president in a private meeting in the Oval Office last week, recounting the administration's successes of his one year on the job and saying it was time for him to return to his hometown of Chicago.
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  • Romney Is Focus as Battle in G.O.P. Takes Sharp Edge

    By Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

    The Republican race for president splintered along two distinct tracks on Sunday, with all of the candidates who are not named Mitt Romney intensifying their attempts to derail the one who is. And all the while they kept their sights trained on one another as they try to emerge as his chief rival. Two days before the first primary of the Republican nominating process, Mr. Romney remained a solid favorite here on Tuesday and beyond.
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  • Gingrich Sheds Doubt on Romney’s Business Past

    By Sam Youngman, Reuters

    Newt Gingrich raised questions about Mitt Romney’s private sector past at two back-to-back debates over the weekend in New Hampshire, returning to an allegation he made last month that Mitt Romney made a fortune at Bain by “bankrupting companies and laying off employees.” A new report by the New York Times, Gingrich said, showed that Bain, the private equity firm co-founded by Romney, had “looted” one particular company (although it turns out he was actually referring to a Reuters story, written by Andy Sullivan and Greg Roumeliotis, about Bain’s investment in a Kansas City steel mill).
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  • U.S., Iran Play Economic Knockdown

    By Tom Gjelten, NPR

    Tensions with Iran these days are as high as they've been in years, and managing them will be one of the top challenges facing the Obama administration this year. With Iran threatening to block U.S. ships from entering the Persian Gulf, and the United States vowing not to back down, the stage seems to be set for war. And yet, what's happening with Iran right now may be more of an economic confrontation than a military standoff.

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  • For Mitt Romney, Authenticity Remains an Issue

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    Over the course of this presidential campaign, there has been one consistent reservation many Republican voters — and others — have expressed about GOP front-runner Mitt Romney. They question his authenticity. They don’t know if they can trust him. They wonder who he really is.
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  • Mitt Romney Under Attack in Final N.H. Debate

    By Karen Tumulty and Amy Gardner, Washington Post

    Mitt Romney’s opponents, seizing upon what could be one of their last opportunities to blunt his accelerating ­momentum toward the GOP presidential nomination, trained their fire on the front-runner Sunday. Romney’s opponents took the parts of his résumé that he touts as strengths and offered them as evidence that he lacks authenticity, conviction and consistency. The sparring began on a debate stage and continued as the candidates fanned out across the state in their last weekend of campaigning.
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  • Mitt Romney Under Attack in Final N.H. Debate

    By Karen Tumulty and Amy Gardner, Washington Post

    Mitt Romney’s opponents, seizing upon what could be one of their last opportunities to blunt his accelerating ­momentum toward the GOP presidential nomination, trained their fire on the front-runner Sunday. Romney’s opponents took the parts of his résumé that he touts as strengths and offered them as evidence that he lacks authenticity, conviction and consistency. The sparring began on a debate stage and continued as the candidates fanned out across the state in their last weekend of campaigning.
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  • Obama's Modest Proposal on Defense

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    As he unveiled his administration's new blueprint for U.S. defense strategy last week, President Obama sought to vaccinate himself against charges that he was gutting the nation's military. Even after the strategy is fully implemented, he said, "the defense budget will still be larger than it was at the end of the Bush administration."
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    President Barack Obama announces defense spending cuts at the Pentagon (FlickrCC/DOD-Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)

  • Debate Overkill Sparks Reform Outcry

    By James Hohmann and John F. Harris, Politico

    Way back when, before this year’s field of Republican presidential candidates had even taken shape, GOP national Chairman Reince Priebus raised his hand with a plan to get a grip on the burgeoning number of televised debates. In words that were one part prescient, one part naive, Priebus in April warned at a media breakfast: “The idea of twenty different forums and twenty different groups is a little much. We need to have some order in our debate process.”
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  • Iran Trumpets Nuclear Ability at a Second Location

    By David E. Sanger, New York Times

    Iran’s top nuclear official announced this weekend that the country was on the verge of starting production at its second major uranium enrichment site, in a defiant declaration that its nuclear program would continue despite new international sanctions restricting its oil revenue. The announcement, made through official news media reports, came after a week of escalating confrontations between Washington and Tehran, including a threat that Iran would respond with military force if the United States tried to send an aircraft carrier strike group back into the Strait of Hormuz.
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  • In NH, GOP Voters' Questions Often Omit Jobs

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Judging from the presidential forums being held all over New Hampshire ahead of Tuesday's Republican primary, the biggest threats to America appear to be online piracy, an insidious United Nations and "crony capitalism." Rick Santorum, for instance, fielded questions for 48 minutes from a crowd of 600 in Windham on Thursday before anyone mentioned jobs, the issue that's supposed to dominate the 2012 elections.
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  • My Baloney Has a First Name, It’s M-I-T-T

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Newt Gingrich spoke for everyone in America when he asked during the NBC News-Facebook New Hampshire debate, "Can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney?" Gingrich was talking to Mitt Romney, but let his exasperated call reach President Obama and leaders in Congress and let it ring in the ears of all the GOP candidates on that stage. Newt Gingrich is not immune to the request. Any candidate who says his adultery came in part from loving the country too much knows how to slice that baloney thick and wriggling.
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  • Perry Unplugged at New Hampshire Debate

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry is losing and acting like he's got nothing to lose -- skewering fellow Republicans running for president as wimpy job creators and congressional Republicans who spent too much money long before before President Obama was elected. "Obama has thrown gasoline on the fire," Perry said at the NBC News/Facebook debate on Sunday. "But the bonfire was burning well before Obama got there. It was policies and spending both from Wall Street and from the insiders in Washington, D.C., that got us in this problem."
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    GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney on the Campaign Trail (FlickrCC/mfhiatt)

  • Few Nicks to Romney in Final New Hampshire Debate

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Two days before an anticipated victory in this state’s primary puts him on a glide path to the GOP nomination, Mitt Romney walked off stage with few nicks from two back-to-back debates. The squandering of two opportunities to knock Romney down on national television and in his own backyard underscored the impotence of the Republican field in 2012 and the former Massachusetts governor’s steam-rolling position.
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  • Gingrich Says Bain Capital Looted Companies

    By Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

    Newt Gingrich assailed Mitt Romney’s business background of buying and selling companies at the investment firm Bain Capital, saying Sunday afternoon that the work was comparable to “rich people figuring out clever legal ways to loot a company.” Newt Gingrich assailed Mitt Romney’s business background of buying and selling companies at the investment firm Bain Capital, saying Sunday afternoon that the work was comparable to “rich people figuring out clever legal ways to loot a company.”
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Jan 06, 2012

  • Romney Fights High Expectations in New Hampshire Primary

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    Every New Hampshire presidential primary is different from the others, and that is certainly the case this year. So far, it is the least-dramatic contested Republican primary in three decades. For Mitt Romney, that’s both a blessing and a possible curse. The former Massachusetts governor flew out of the state Thursday for an overnight campaign trip to South Carolina, leaving the Granite State to rivals Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman Jr. (Ron Paul was away.)
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  • Shifts at Pentagon Reflect Dual Realities of Different Threats, Tighter Budgets

    By Yochi J. Dreazen, National Journal

    The Obama administration's high-profile rollout of its new military blueprint for the years ahead was designed to do two very different things: mark a decisive shift away from manpower-heavy counterinsurgencies like Afghanistan and shield the White House from Republican criticism over its plans for significant cuts to the Pentagon budget.
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    President Barack Obama announces spending cuts at the Pentagon (CNN)