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 12, 2013

  • Report Says N. Korea Can Attach Nuke to Long-Range Missile

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    Secretary of State arrives in South Korea as an intelligence report was accidentally declassified.

    Watch more
  • North Korea May Have A Nuclear Warhead To Put On A Missile, Says Pentagon

    With Tom Gjelten, NPR

    The Pentagon's intelligence arm has "moderate confidence" that North Korea may have developed the technology to create nuclear weapons that are small enough to fit on a long-range missile.

    Listen here
  • Hypocrisy Runs Deep in Washington's Budget Debates

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Hypocrisy is nothing new in Washington. The long-running debate over taxes and spending, however, is producing especially blatant examples of politicians contradicting themselves or attacking opponents for taking the very stances they've taken themselves.

    Read more
  • Both parties wary of Obama's proposal to cut Social Security

    By Sam Youngman and Mark Felsenthal, Reuters

    Republicans, Democrats and even the White House distanced themselves Thursday from President Barack Obama's proposal to trim Social Security and other safety-net benefits, illustrating yet again the difficulty of reaching a bargain to reduce spending and tame the deficit.

    Read more
  • Crunch Time for Obama and Washington

    By Gloria Borger, CNN

    It's not often that a presidential to-do list (and legacy-making agenda) comes down to a couple of key weeks, but here we are: gun control, immigration reform and the budget -- all front and center, right now.

    Read more

Apr 11, 2013

  • Obama Budget Opens Rift for Democrats on Social Benefits

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    President Obama’s new budget has opened a debate over what it means to be a progressive Democrat in an age of austerity and defines him as a president willing to take on the two pillars of his party — Medicare and Social Security — created by Democratic presidents. By his gamble on Wednesday in proposing budgetary concessions to Republicans on Social Security, the 1935 creation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Medicare, the legacy of President Lyndon B. Johnson, Mr. Obama has provoked angry supporters on his left to ask whether he is a progressive at all.

    Read more
  • Obama budget: Can entitlement changes lure GOP into talks?

    By Susan Davis and Aamer Madhani, USA Today

    President Obama used the prospect of entitlement reform in the budget he unveiled Wednesday to lure Republican leaders back to negotiations on cutting the nation's $16 trillion debt. "If we can come together, have a serious, reasoned debate — not driven by politics ... then I'm confident we will move this country forward," Obama said before his $3.77 trillion budget for 2014 was released.

    Read more
  • Obama Budget Hit From Left and Right

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    In a seemingly endless tug of war over the nation’s fiscal fitness, President Obama tried Wednesday to send some peacemaking smoke signals to Republicans using his newest budget. In the process, some Democrats were quick to object.

    Read more
  • Gun debate shows how a fiery minority can prevail

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    At first glance, it seems Republicans are verging on a blunder. With about 90 percent of Americans favoring universal background checks for gun buyers, GOP lawmakers' strong resistance might appear foolhardy.

    Read more
  • NBC-WSJ Poll: Is Immigration Good For the Country?

    With John Harwood, CNBC and The New York Times

    Watch more
  • The keys to a knowledge economy Gun control, immigration and budget talks: Is there a thaw in Washington?

    By Karen Tumulty and Paul Kane, The Washington Post

    For the first time in a while, members of the two parties — at least some of them — appear to be talking about getting things done, even without the deadline of a manufactured crisis looming. With Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) reaching a deal to expand background checks on firearms purchases, the way appears to have been cleared for the Senate to start debate on gun-control legislation. Although their provision is not as far-reaching as what President Obama proposed after the Newtown massacre in December, he praised it as “common sense.”

    Read more
  • Guess Who’s Not Coming to Dinner?

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    While President Obama invites Republicans to his dinner table, his liberal allies are at the gates. On Wednesday night, President Obama dines with GOP senators at the White House. It's the second act in a dinner theater that started with a meal with another group of Republican senators at the Jefferson Hotel a month ago. Obama also made public peace offerings Wednesday to those Republicans: cuts to Social Security and Medicare in his budget that he hopes will entice conservatives to a grand budget bargain. Those measures enraged his liberal allies so much that they marched on the White House gates Tuesday to deliver 2 million petitions calling on him not to make those cuts.

    Read more

Apr 10, 2013

  • Obama Unveils Budget Meant to Draw G.O.P to the Table

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    In his fifth annual budget proposal to Congress on Wednesday, President Obama once again has put forward a fiscal mix of investments in infrastructure, education and research with further deficit reduction through tax increases and spending cuts. But for the first time he has included changes to Medicare and Social Security intended to entice Republicans back to the bargaining table.

    Read more
  • Obama to unveil $3.77 trillion spending plan

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    President Obama plans Wednesday to unveil a $3.77 trillion spending plan that proposes modest new investments in infrastructure and education, major new taxes for the wealthy and significant reforms aimed at reducing the cost of Social Security and Medicare. As Washington barrels toward another potential showdown over the federal debt limit later this summer, administration officials said the blueprint lays down the president’s bottom-line offer for getting federal borrowing under control.

    Read more
  • Reid schedules vote to break GOP hold on gun bills

    By Susan Davis, Gregory Korte and Jackie Kucinich, USA Today

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that beginning Thursday, the Senate will hold votes on gun control — with or without a Republican filibuster. As a bipartisan compromise proved elusive, Reid scheduled a vote to end debate on Thursday. Even if he falls short of the 60 votes needed to end debate, he said he'll make Republicans filibuster the bill until he gets a vote. "It will take a little bit of time, but we're going to do it," he said.

    Read more
  • Obama's Army Outmaneuvered by the NRA

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Although the first votes on gun -control legislation have yet to be cast, by some measures the National Rifle Association has already won. Obama’s ambitious plans to ban assault weapons and limit magazine capacities are off the table, while the NRA suggested it could support the most likely outcome -- expanded background checks -- as recently as 1999. The NRA claims that the president’s efforts have triggered a fundraising surge and boosted its membership from 4 million to nearly 5 million. Members of Congress who seemed open to legislation after the shooting deaths of 20 Connecticut schoolchildren are still on the fence, while Republicans are threatening a filibuster.

    Read more
  • It’s Always Campaign Season

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Sen. Mitch McConnell is the least likely politician to get caught in a secret recording discussing the dark arts of campaigning. He usually says that stuff on the record. The four-term senator speaks openly about his political motivations. You may remember that in October 2010, McConnell told Major Garrett, then of National Journal, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

    Read more
  • ‘Obama phones’ subsidy program draws new scrutiny on the Hill

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    When someone in the Washington area begins to type the president’s last name into the search box of Google’s home page, the top three terms it suggests as the most popular selections are Obama, Obamacare and . . . Obama phone.  Obama phone? A hotline, maybe, to the Oval Office?

    Read more

Apr 09, 2013

  • Newtown Families Help Obama Press for Gun Reform

    By Christi Parsons and Michael A. Memoli, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama sought Monday to use the emotional pull of the Newtown school massacre to galvanize public support for his drive to pass stricter gun control measures, even as more than a dozen Republican senators promised to filibuster to block such votes.

    Read more
  • Expanded Immigration Would Reduce the Federal Deficit, Some Conservatives Say

    By Jim Tankersley, The Washington Post

    Conservative champions of opening the flow of legal immigration into the United States are invoking economics in hopes of winning Republican lawmakers’ support — specifically, the idea that more immigration will increase growth and cut the federal budget deficit.

    Read more