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!

Apr 15, 2014

  • That time Democrats opposed a minimum wage hike

    By Reid Wilson, The Washington Post

    What if they held a vote to increase the minimum wage and most of the Democrats voted no? That’s what happened in Alaska on Sunday, where the vast majority of Democrats in the state House voted against a measure that would have given low-income workers one of the highest minimum wages in the entire country.

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  • Google, once disdainful of lobbying, now a master of Washington influence

    By Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold, Washington Week

    In May 2012, the law school at George Mason University hosted a forum billed as a “vibrant discussion” about Internet search competition. Many of the major players in the field were there — regulators from the Federal Trade Commission, federal and state prosecutors, top congressional staffers.

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Apr 14, 2014

  • Obama Lets N.S.A. Exploit Some Internet Flaws, Officials Say

    By David E. Sanger, The New York Times

    Stepping into a heated debate within the nation’s intelligence agencies, President Obama has decided that when the National Security Agency discovers major flaws in Internet security, it should — in most circumstances — reveal them to assure that they will be fixed, rather than keep mum so that the flaws can be used in espionage or cyberattacks, senior administration officials said Saturday.

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  • Alaska ad proudly ties Dem senator to 'Obamacare'

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    After months of watching Democrats get hammered over President Barack Obama's health care law, friends of an embattled senator are fighting back by proudly linking him to "Obamacare."

    An independent group in Alaska is airing a TV ad that praises Democratic Sen. Mark Begich for helping people obtain insurance even if they have "pre-existing conditions," such as cancer.

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  • Sebelius’ Last Job

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Kathleen Sebelius, the outgoing health and human services secretary, has one last job she can do for President Obama. She can allow Republicans to heap criticism upon her as she heads out the door. The more she is seen as the agent of Obamacare’s woes, the embodiment of the bad website and the law’s generally snakebit nature, the better it is for the political health of the president’s signature program. As if to fulfill this promise, when Sebelius read her prepared remarks announcing her departure on Friday at the White House, she flipped through her pages and admitted, “Unfortunately, a page is missing.”

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  • How She Does It

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    The governor of New Hampshire does not live in the governor’s mansion. Instead, Maggie Hassan lives on the grounds of Phillips Exeter Academy, the exclusive 228-year-old prep school of the Northeast’s privileged set, where her husband, Thomas Hassan, has been the principal since 2008—a job that comes with lodging in a stately colonial on the school’s campus.

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  • In New Officers’ Careers, Peace Is No Dividend

    By Helene Cooper and Thom Shanker, The New York Times

    Col. Jeff Lieb, the deputy commandant of the United States Military Academy and a veteran of the war in Iraq, paced before a group of cadets standing in formation and shouted at them about their lives after graduation.

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Apr 11, 2014

  • Sebelius Decision to Resign May Shift Debate on Obamacare

    By Alex Wayne, Julianna Goldman and Drew Armstrong, Bloomberg News

    After topping initial enrollment projections for Obamacare, Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. health secretary, leaves her successor, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, an agency with numerous challenges to ultimately make the law work.

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  • Democrats embrace adding photos to Social Security cards

    By Juliet Eilperin and Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    As Republicans push for new voting restrictions around the country, a handful of Democrats have coalesced around an impromptu idea: placing a photo on Social Security cards.

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  • Missing Ingredient on Minimum Wage: A Motivated G.O.P.

    By John Harwood, The New York Times

    Each of the three previous presidents — two Republicans, one Democrat — signed an increase in the federal minimum wage.

    Why not President Obama?

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  • 50 years later, Obama salutes passage of Civil Rights Act

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    For three days, the veterans of a long-ago movement reunited and drew together their spiritual heirs to explore the legacy of the Civil Rights Act a half-century after it transformed America. And then the legacy walked onstage.

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  • How Do Democrats Win When the Economy Still Sucks?

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    Despite a less-than-rosy economy, President Obama won re-election due in large part to the fact that he made the race a referendum on Mitt Romney and his "47 percent" ideology. Two years later, the economy looks better on paper, but voters aren't seeing it. That means Democrats will once again make an election a referendum not on how good things are under Democrats, but how terrible they will be under GOP rule. It may work. It may not. But, it's the only play they've got. And, Republicans have done little to nothing to change perception that they, like Romney, are "out of touch" with the concerns of average Americans.

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Apr 10, 2014

  • LBJ’s poignant paradoxes

    By Todd S. Purdum, Politico

    Forty-five years after he was driven from the White House in despair and disrepute over Vietnam, four presidents and a raft of luminaries from the worlds of politics, sports and entertainment gathered here this week to honor Lyndon Baines Johnson at a three-day conference celebrating his role as godfather of the landmark law that made modern America: the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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  • Bill Clinton urges adding photos to Social Security cards for voter identification

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    With 34 states now requiring some form of identification at the polls, former president Bill Clinton and civil rights leader Andrew Young on Wednesday endorsed the idea of adding photos to Social Security cards as a way to prevent voter suppression.

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  • CIA in hot seat with Senate and fallout from Snowden disclosures

    With Jeff Zeleny, ABC News

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  • Hillary and the Hard Question

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Hillary Clinton has answered a question about her presidential journey again. (Tea leaf readers to the front office, please.) During an interview as a part of an appearance at a marketing conference, the former secretary of state said: “I am thinking about it, but I am going to continue to think about it for a while. … The hard questions are not do you want to be president, or can you win. The hard questions are why. Why would you want to do this and what can you offer that could make a difference.

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  • Huge Internet Security Flaw

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    There’s a new warning out Wednesday about a massive vulnerability in the system widely used to make Internet exchanges secure.

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Apr 09, 2014

  • With Eye on Midterms, Obama Pushes Women's Equity

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics


    It's the reason President Obama stapled a paycheck-equity message aimed at women to a plug for the Affordable Care Act’s gender-neutral impact on some health care pricing.

    It’s why unmarried women are now the Holy Grail among Democrats running in tough 2014 midterm contests. 

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  • For Obama Presidency, Lyndon Johnson Looms Large

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    Two days before joining other presidents in Texas to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, President Obama tackled enduring inequality himself on Tuesday, in this case economic disparity based on gender.

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  • Two moms, a baby and a legal first for U.S. gay marriage

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    Last month a baby in Tennessee made history: Emilia Maria Jesty was the first child born in the state to have a woman listed on the birth certificate as her "father."

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