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!

Sep 11, 2014

  • The Midterm Electorate Is Anxious and Unsettled

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Less than two months before the midterm elections, American voters are frightened and unsettled by conditions in the U.S. and around the world. They crave stability, distrust politicians, and have little faith that changing control of Congress would accomplish anything. And while few are pleased with President Obama's leadership, they don't see the November elections primarily as a referendum on it.

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  • Obama announces ‘broad coalition’ to fight Islamic State extremist group

    By Ed O'Keefe and Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post

    President Obama on Wednesday night outlined an open-ended campaign to combat the threat posed by the Islamic State, significantly expanding the counter­terrorism strategy that has been a hallmark of his presidency.

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Sep 10, 2014

  • Obama's ISIL Strategy to Emphasize Coalition Effort

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    On the eve of another 9/11 anniversary, Barack Obama will tell Americans in a prime time address Wednesday that the United States is back in the business of battling Islamic extremists in Iraq.

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  • Obama’s Islamic State strategy relies on allies with own reputations for brutality

    By Hannah Alam, McClatchy News

    Whatever strategy President Barack Obama lays out Wednesday to combat the Islamic State is sure to rely heavily on buy-in from rival Muslim powerhouses Saudi Arabia and Iran – one a Sunni Muslim kingdom with its own grim penchant for beheadings and the other a Shiite pariah state that’s executed thousands of dissidents.

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  • House bill would fund government through mid-December

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    The U.S. House will vote this week on a stopgap funding bill to keep the government running until Dec. 11.

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  • Who’s the boss?

    By Greg Ip, The Economist

    FEDEX, Walmart and McDonald’s are among America’s largest employers. Yet many of the people who drive FedEx’s delivery trucks, staff Walmart’s warehouses and serve McDonald’s hamburgers are not their employees. Instead, they work for subcontractors, franchisees or themselves.

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  • Ted Cruz accuses Harry Reid of ‘slander campaign’ against Koch brothers

    By Matea Gold, The Washington Post

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) on Tuesday called the repeated Democratic attacks on the Koch brothers “an embarrassment to this institution,” lashing out at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid during a heated speech on the Senate floor.

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Sep 09, 2014

  • Obama unlikely to seek formal authorization for military strike against Islamic State in Syria, congressional aides say

    By Ed O'Keefe and Robert Costa, The Washington Post

    The White House has not made any official moves that would indicate that President Obama will be seeking congressional authorization for military strikes against the Islamic State, leading top Capitol Hill leaders to believe that he will not be asking them for approval to take formal action in Syria, according to senior House and Senate aides in both parties familiar with ongoing talks between Congress and the administration.

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  • Turkey Is Courted by U.S. to Help Fight ISIS

    By Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    The Obama administration on Monday began the work of trying to determine exactly what roles the members of its fledgling coalition of countries to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will play, with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel huddled with the leaders of the one country the administration has called “absolutely indispensable” to the fight: Turkey.

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  • A President Whose Assurances Have Come Back to Haunt Him

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    When President Obama addresses the nation on Wednesday to explain his plan to defeat Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria, it is a fair bet he will not call them the “JV team.”

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  • Does Obama propose to destroy the Islamic State, or merely defeat it?

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Exactly what is President Obama’s goal as he escalates the U.S. fight against the Islamic State, the extremist group that has seized a swath of territory in northern Syria and Iraq?

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  • Obama's Long Immigration Betrayal

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Why does it matter that President Obama has decided to delay action on immigration until after the November elections? What difference does a couple of extra months make?

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  • Hot inside the Beltway — but not beyond: Why immigration isn’t gaining midterm traction

    By Reid Wilson, The Washington Post

    Rep. Mike Coffman (R) spends most of his days campaigning furiously across his suburban Denver district, which both Democrats and Republicans view as one of the most competitive House races in the country. But on Saturday nights, from 7 to 9 p.m., the retired Marine and former Secretary of State first elected to Congress in 2008 takes a break from campaigning to learn Spanish. His goal is to be fluent, or nearly fluent, by the time he sits down with his opponent, former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D), for a debate on Univision on Oct. 30.

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Sep 08, 2014

  • Obama's evolving ISIS strategy

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    CNBC's John Harwood discusses President Obama's position on immigration and strategy on ISIS.

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  • Destroying ISIS May Take Years, U.S. Officials Say

    By Eric Schmitt, Michael R. Gordon and Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    The Obama administration is preparing to carry out a campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria that may take three years to complete, requiring a sustained effort that could last until after President Obama has left office, according to senior administration officials.

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  • Why Obama Delayed His Go-It-Alone Immigration Plan

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    President Obama has played the immigration reform card before, but with better results.

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  • Congress returns for brief session, few key bills

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Congress returns Monday for a three-week sprint to the legislative finish that will focus on political messages ahead of the midterm elections that could transfer control of the U.S. Senate to Republicans.

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  • Why polarization could persist after Obama

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    Many issues will come into play in the 2016 election, but among the most important is whether the next president and the Congress that will convene in January 2017 can break through the partisan polarization that has turned Washington into a gridlocked island.

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  • Field of Dreams

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    The Iowa State Fair is over, but the circus is coming to town. On Sept. 14, Hillary and Bill Clinton will attend the 37th annual Harkin Steak Fry, the famous Iowa political event named after Sen. Tom Harkin. A mess of journalists will rush after the couple, looking for signs of a presidential campaign and drawing conclusions on the nearest barn wall. (It is fitting that the event takes place on a hot air balloon field.) But there will also be thousands of normal human beings in that Indianola field, extending their phones like periscopes to capture one or both of the Clintons as they pledge allegiance before a vast flag or pretend to cook steak on a grill that’s almost as large.

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Sep 05, 2014

  • NATO Approves New Reaction Force for Eastern Europe

    By Steven Erlanger and Stephen Castle, The New York Times

    NATO on Friday approved plans for a 4,000-person rapid reaction force headquartered in eastern Europe, aimed at reassuring members near Russia unnerved by its military actions in the Ukraine conflict that the principle of collective defense remains sacrosanct.

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