March 8: Banking on Better Terms

What you need to know to navigate today’s most critical debates.

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Why Political Reform Should Be Priority Number One (TNR)
What should Barack Obama do if the improving economy and the GOP’s comedy of errors allow him to win a second term? Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Mark Schmitt argues that he can finally bring Change You Can Believe in to the way government works.

House Republicans Go After SEC Regulation and Fed Stimulus (The Nation)
George Zornick writes that with Congress deadlocked, Obama has been relying on executive branch agencies and the Federal Reserve to help carry out his agenda, but the GOP is oxymoronically taking aggressive action to make sure nothing happens.

The Cost of Financial Favoritism (TAP)
Robert Kuttner notes that while our policymakers talk a big game about Wall Street bankers being job creators, they’re not so eager to help out the smaller community banks that make loans to start-ups and entrepreneurs who, you know, create jobs.

Romney Waffles On Minimum Wage (HuffPo)
Mitt Romney thinks the minimum wage should be pegged to inflation, sort of, or not. What do you think he should think? It’s already set at, like, $300 an hour, right? Anyone should be able to get by on that as long as they skimp on Cadillacs.

Young Adults See Their Pay Decline (WSJ)
A new EPI study finds that the average hourly wage among young college grads has dropped 11 percent for men and 7.6 percent for women over the last decade as high unemployment has created fierce competition even for bagel-fetching jobs.

Check out “The 99 Percent Plan,” a new Roosevelt Institute/Salon essay series on the progressive vision for the economy.

The Destruction of Black Wealth (TAP)
Bob Herbert explains how economic devastation has been amplified for African Americans, leaving them with sky-high unemployment and a 20-to-1 wealth gap with whites. And oddly, black firms are starved for resources even though racism is over.

Dire Poverty Falls Despite Global Slump, Report Finds (NYT)
Annie Lowrey highlights a new World Bank report that finds that the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day has consistently fallen throughout the developing world. At least that’s one low bar we’ve managed not to trip over.

Obama Releases Housing Plan To Help Military Veterans Who Were Victims Of Illegal Foreclosures (Think Progress)
The president wants to provide aid to veterans who are struggling to pay their mortgages or those who have been illegally foreclosed on, based on the principle that when our troops come “home” from war they should actually have a home.

Foreclose the Banks (The Nation)
The Occupy movement is planning a new round of “move your money” campaigns this spring to persuade Americans to stop letting big banks charge them interest for the privilege of having the Fed’s emergency loans loaned back to them.

Reverse-Engineering Obama’s Message Machine (ProPublica)
Lois Beckett and Jeff Larson provide an interactive look at the “You Probably Don’t Know Janet” e-mail that shows how carefully and specifically the Obama campaign has targeted its outreach. The only demographic they missed? Janet’s friends.