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!

Nov 23, 2011

  • Thune to Endorse Romney

    By Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

    Senator John Thune of South Dakota is set to endorse Mitt Romney’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination here on Wednesday, marking the second conservative United States senator this week to declare support for Mr. Romney’s candidacy. Mr. Thune, who decided earlier this year against seeking the presidential nomination himself, will make the announcement during a morning campaign stop in downtown Des Moines with Mr. Romney. The endorsement, which was confirmed by two Republican officials, comes as Mr. Romney is intensifying his effort to compete in the Iowa caucuses that are less than six weeks away.

    Read More
  • Spirited Foreign Policy Debate Includes a Test of Gingrich’s Rise

    By Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

    The Republican presidential candidates highlighted their party’s lack of a single national security vision a decade after the Sept. 11 attacks, differing on Tuesday night over the pace of withdrawal from Afghanistan, aid to Pakistan and, in an exchange that could resonate dangerously for Newt Gingrich, what to do with illegal immigrants in the United States.
    Read More

  • Analysis: Gingrich gambles in bid to catch Romney

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Newt Gingrich, a political gambler his whole life, is banking on unorthodox stands on immigration, Social Security retirement benefits and other issues to propel him past Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential contest. In a few weeks, Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire will show whether they think the best person to challenge President Barack Obama is a comparative stranger to Washington politics or a contentious and sometimes cantankerous veteran of decades of battles in the U.S. capital.

    Read More
  • GOP candidates show sharp differences on national security and terrorism

    By Dan Balz and Amy Gardner, Washington Post

    The Republican presidential candidates clashed repeatedly over foreign policy and national security issues Tuesday night, revealing clear differences on the pace of withdrawal from Afghanistan, aid to Pakistan, the Iranian threat, immigration, and the balance between protecting the homeland and preserving civil liberties. President Obama came in for sporadic criticism for his handling of foreign policy throughout the debate. But the bulk of the time, beginning with the opening question, was spent on issues that revealed fissures within the Republican Party’s coalition over how to deal with trouble spots around the world.

    Read More
  • Family Guy: In Tuesday's debate, Newt Gingrich calls for a "humane" immigration policy.

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Did Newt Gingrich have one idea too many? At the CNN national security debate on Tuesday, the former speaker said that he would not be in favor of kicking out illegal immigrant families that had been in the country for a long time. "The party that says it's the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century?” he said. “I'm prepared to take the heat for saying, ‘Let's be humane in enforcing the law.’ ” Michele Bachmann said Gingrich was offering amnesty. Mitt Romney said Gingrich was offering a “magnet” that would encourage more illegal immigration.

    Read More

Nov 22, 2011

  • U.S. Imposes New Sanctions on Iran, but Strongest Weapon Remains Unused

    By Yochi J. Dreazen, National Journal

    The Obama administration on Monday unveiled a sweeping new set of sanctions against Iran, but the White House held off on directly targeting Iran’s central bank, a hard-hitting move that would damage Iran’s economy but risk sending global oil prices skyrocketing and sparking potentially violent Iranian retaliation. The administration has been steadily escalating its diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran in response to intelligence showing that Tehran has come closer to successfully building a nuclear weapon than ever before. The sanctions unveiled by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are designed to further tighten the screws on Tehran by making it virtually impossible for foreign companies to invest in Iran’s oil sector or complete transactions with any components of Iran’s financial system.

    Read More from National Journal
  • U.S. Companies Add Workers Abroad, Cut at Home

    By David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    U.S.-based multinational corporations added 1.5 million workers to their payrolls in Asia and the Pacific during the 2000s, and 477,500 workers in Latin America, while cutting payrolls at home by 864,000. David Wessel has details on The News Hub.

    Watch Video
  • Ron Paul: Flawed U.S. policy contributed to 9/11 attacks

    By Nia-Malika Henderson, Washington Post

    Ron Paul might be the next big thing in the GOP 2012 field, with recent polls showing him doing well in Iowa and New Hampshire. But as has happened with Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, top-tier status in the polls, means increased scrutiny. Paul’s non-interventionist approach to foreign policy will likely be front-and-center on Tuesday, when CNN hosts a Republican candidates’ debate on national security. In the video below, Paul expounds on his views, saying that U.S. policies contributed to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    Watch Video
  • Iowa beckons, and Mitt Romney is responding

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will make one of his infrequent visits to Iowa on Wednesday amid growing signs that he could try to steal a victory in a state that toppled his hopes of winning the party’s nomination in 2008. The recent opening of a campaign office in downtown Des Moines has generated fresh speculation about whether Romney is ramping up operations. Advisers say their strategy hasn’t changed. But circumstances certainly have, and Romney’s campaign appears ready to try to take advantage.

    Read More
  • Opposites Attract

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    If Mitt Romney is weak broth, Newt Gingrich is a bouillon cube. Watching the two Republican presidential front-runners in New Hampshire over two days has been a study in contrasts. Romney is a known conservative ingredient suitable in a main dish. Gingrich is a powerful dose of partisan flavor to be used sparingly. Gingrich is having his moment now because he offers punchy answers and ready solutions to seemingly insoluble problems. If he endures an examination of his personal baggage, his record on the issues, and his private-sector career, it will be in part because he is the “Republican Ideas Man.” But when you listen to those ideas—the scope of the change he is proposing, and the punch with which he delivers his pitch—you get the sense that that voters may not be interested in the Gingrich past because they’re too scared of the Gingrich future.

    Read More
  • As Deficit Panel Fails, Obama Vows to Keep Mandatory Cuts

    By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

    President Obama said Monday he will veto any attempt by Congress to undo the across-the-board spending cuts mandated for 2013 that were triggered when lawmakers' failed to agree on a more surgical plan to trim deficits over the next decade. "My message to them is simple: No. I will veto any effort to get of rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off-ramps on this one," Obama said from the White House briefing room.
    Read More

  • Supercommittee announces failure in effort to tame debt

    By Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane, Washington Post

    A special congressional committee created to try to curb the national debt abandoned its work and conceded failure Monday, the latest setback in a long effort by Washington to overcome ideological differences and stem the rising tide of red ink. In a joint statement issued hours before a midnight deadline, the Democratic and Republican leaders of the panel said that they were “deeply disappointed” by their inability to reach an agreement and that they hope for progress in the months ahead.

    Read More
  • Analysis of President Obama's Remarks on Super Committee Failure

    By John Harwood, CNBC

    CNBC's John Harwood weighs in on President Obama's comments on the failed deal to cut U.S. spending.

    Watch Video on CNBC
  • Panel Fails to Reach Deal on Plan for Deficit Reduction

    By Helene Cooper, New York Times

    Leaders of the Congressional committee charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions conceded on Monday that panel members had failed, setting up what is likely to be a yearlong political fight over the automatic cuts to a broad range of military and domestic programs that would go into effect starting in 2013 as a result of their inability to reach a deal. Speaking an hour after the committee’s failure was announced by its leaders in an e-mail statement, President Obama promised to veto any legislation that seeks to avoid the automatic cuts. The president also pledged that “one way or another” the deficit would be trimmed by at least $2.2 trillion, the only question being whether it was with a “scalpel, not a hatchet.”

    Read More
  • Obama Weighed Risks of Engagement, and Decided to Give Voters the Final Say

    By Jackie Calmes, New York Times

    In remaining aloof from the special deficit committee in Congress even as it collapsed on Monday, President Obama showed his calculation more clearly than ever before: Republicans will never agree to raise taxes on the wealthy to balance any spending cuts, so let the voters decide. Congress could still reach a bipartisan compromise in the next month, or next year, to avoid the threat of automatic spending cuts, especially in military programs, in 2013. But the president is figuring that Congress will not, and he will campaign by contrasting what he calls his “balanced” approach to putting the nation on a solid fiscal footing to Republicans’ antitax reliance on spending cuts, especially for Medicare and Social Security.

    Read More
  • Analysis: End to debt gridlock is not in sight

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    The supercommittee's failure reflects the nation's divide: Americans crave both the Republicans' demand for low taxes and the Democrats' insistence on protecting social programs. So far, no group or leader has persuaded them they can't have both and there's no quick solution in sight. It's possible the stalemate won't be broken by the time of the 2012 elections, nearly a year away. Some GOP strategists think Republicans can oust President Barack Obama and win control of both chambers of Congress. That would enable them to enact much of their agenda, and Americans could render a judgment on its results.

    Read More
  • Super Committee Failure Won’t Hurt the Economy for Another Year

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    A compromise in the super committee was never going to boost the economy right away. Failure will not hurt it, for at least another year. The across-the-board budget cuts that will now be triggered by the Budget Control Act are scheduled to take effect in 2013, when the Federal Reserve projects the U.S. economy will be growing at a 3.0-to-3.5-percent clip, or about double the growth rate today. The Bush tax cuts—which the super committee failed to find agreement on, as well—are set to expire in 2013, too.

    Read More from National Journal
  • Super-Committee Failure Forecasts Sequester Fight

    By Susan Davis, National Journal

    The super committee’s failure to come up with $1.2 trillion in deficit-reduction measures has paved the way for an election-year battle by Republicans to rewrite the sequester rules and protect defense spending in the face of a White House veto threat. House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., a vocal opponent to the sequester from the onset, said on Monday that he will introduce legislation in the coming days to prevent the cuts from taking effect in their current form.

    Read More from National Journal

Nov 21, 2011

  • The week ahead in Election 2012

    By Nia Malika Henderson, Washington Post

    It’s a short week, but a big week. Here’s what to watch in the week ahead: New Hampshire: Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. who has bet his entire campaign on a win in the Granite State, said last week that he didn’t “care what the rest of the country thinks or feels. That’s not important . . . I do care about what the people of New Hampshire feel, because this is important.”

    Read More
  • Iowa activists reevaluating Newt Gingrich’s candidacy

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    DENISON, Iowa - Nine months ago, on a frigid winter night, a small group of local Republican leaders gathered at Cronk’s Cafe in this small Iowa town to talk about the presidential campaign. They had a dim view of Newt Gingrich that night. Arlan Ecklund was outspoken in his criticism of the former House speaker. “I think he’s polarizing,” he said then. “I don’t think he’s electable.” Today, he has changed his mind. “The problems that face our nation are greater than they’ve ever been,” he said. “I believe he’s the one candidate who doesn’t need on-the-job training. . . . I think he is electable, even though he has some baggage.”

    Read More