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Posted at 08:59 AM ET, 05/15/2012

The Morning Plum: Wall Street accountability resurfaces as major issue

In purely political terms, the J.P. Morgan debacle was a gift for Dems. It has given them a new rallying point in the push to draw a sharp ideological contrast with Republicans over government oversight of the private sector and to align the GOP with the sort of Wall Street recklessness that led to the economic meltdown and widespread economic misery.

Elizabeth Warren, who is perhaps more identified for a confrontational posture towards Wall Street than any Dem in the country, is up with a new radio spot that seizes on the J.P. Morgan loss to amplify that case — and charging that Wall Street is out to steal people’s pensions.

“Even now, Wall Street banks that got bailed out are still at it — gambling recklessly,” Warren says. “Wall Street isn’t going to change its ways until Washington gets serious about strong oversight and real accountability. No special deals. We need a tough cop on the beat to amke sure that nobody steals your purse on Main Street, or your pension on Wall Street.”

Meanwhile, Eric Griego, a candidate in the battle for New Mexico’s First District, a House race worth watching, is up with a new ad in which Griego explicitly says he “won’t stop until Wall Street bankers who broke the law go to jail.”

Griego — perhaps the first to campaign on a call for jailing bankers — has the backing of national liberal groups like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, who see this as a test of whether unabashed liberals get get elected to Congress with a tough message demanding genuine accountability for Wall Street criminality. National Dems should keep an eye on this race, too, to see what kind of resonance this message has.

* Obama allies amplify attacks on Bain: The Obama-allied Priorities USA Action is up with new ad that features Bain layoff victim Pat Wells warning you not to trust Romney’s turnaround whiz routine. “He promised us the same things he’s promising the United States,” Wells says in the ad, which is backed by a $4 million buy and will run in . “He’ll give you the same thing he gave us. Nothing.”

If the premise of Romney’s candidacy is that his business background shows he’d turn around America like a troubled company, this is a twist on that. The message is, Yes, he would do with America what he did with companies like GST Steel: enrich the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. Like Obama’s Bain ad yesterday, it’s about turning Romney’s main asset into a liability with a simple idea: Romney = middle class insecurity.

By the way: I interviewed Wells back in January; he’s a self-described conservative who voted for George Bush and John McCain.

* The facts about Bain and GST Steel: Glenn Kessler does a deep dive into the Obama campaign attacks on Bain, and finds that they are somewhat exaggerated and oversimplified, but also reaches this key conclusion:

Romney all but invited such scrutiny by claiming that his business experience taught him how to create jobs, when in fact his role was to generate a good return on his investments. Sometimes that worked out well for workers, but in the case of GSI, it did not. Usually, however, it seemed to work out well for Bain.

* What’s at stake in the battle over Bain: As the Post’s big piece laying out the battle lines explains well, it’s all about whether Romney will head into the general election enjoying the presumption that his business success speaks to his economic competence, which could be very dangerous for Obama’s reelection chances. It’s also about two competing visions of our economic future.

* Romney set to attack deficit that Bush created: Mitt Romney is set to give a big speech today in Iowa decrying the deficit and Obama’s role in the alleged growth of government. The chart of the day, courtesy of TPM, shows that Bush’s policies are still responsible for the vast bulk of the debt.

Another thing that Romney’s speech won’t mention: government at the state and local levels has been dramatically scaled back, and this is a major driver of the jobs crisis.

* Romney’s ridiculous argument about the auto-bailout: Steve Benen takes apart Romney’s continued claims that what he did at Bain is comparable to what Obama did on the autobailout:

Romney’s leveraged buyouts and mass layoffs were intended to do one thing: make a profit for investors. The fate of the companies, the workers, and the surrounding communities was irrelevant. Period. Full stop. Obama, meanwhile, wasn’t motivated by profit; he was trying to save the American auto industry, the backbone of the nation’s manufacturing sector, millions of American jobs, and the economy in the Midwest.
Romney exploited the companies he gutted to line his pockets and those of his investors. That isn’t the same as what Obama did for GM and Chrysler; it’s the opposite.

I’d forgotten this, but as Steve rightly notes, and details in the link, this has actually been a standard line of Romney’s for some time. Maybe a news org or two might look into it a bit?

* Independents, blacks approve of Obama on gay marriage: Today’s Post poll finds that overall opinion is exactly split on Obama’s gay marriage announcement, 46-46. But perhaps the more interesting findings are that independents favor it 49-43 and African Americans approve of it by 54-37, which seems to run counter to the conventional wisdom that Obama took a major risk in declaring support for full equality for gay and lesbian Americans.

* Women, young voters overwhelmingly approve: Damla Ergun ferrets out another key finding:

Mirroring a wide gender gap in Obama’s support more generally, 54 percent of women respond favorably to his backing of gay marriage, compared with 37 percent of men. There’s an even broader gap by age – 63 percent of young adults favor the president’s position, vs. 34 percent of seniors.

Women and young voters, of course, are key to Obama’s reelection hopes.

* Economic confidence rising: USA Today/Gallup:

Though an overwhelming 71% rate economic conditions as poor, a 58% majority predict they will be good a year from now. While those surveyed are inclined to say they are worse off financially than a year ago, nearly two-thirds say they think they’ll be better off this time next year.
The assessment of personal finances already is on the upswing. More than a third report they are better off than they were a year ago — the highest number since before the economic meltdown in 2008.

* Romney enjoying presumption of economic competence: While the above numbers are good for Obama, this finding from the same poll is very good for Romney:

55% say the economy would get better over the next four years if Romney was elected, compared with 46% who say it would improve if Obama was re-elected.

This goes to the heart of the battle over Bain; voters, clearly, are prepared to accept the premise of Romney’s candidacy, which is that his success in business has prepared him for the job of turning around a whole country and its economy.

* And Tea Partyers rally for Scott Walker: Stephanie Mencimer asks: Are the Tea Party groups pouring into Wisconsin to help Scott Walker fend off the recall push at risk of running afoul of the IRS?

The other point to be made here is that there’s a tremendous amount at stake in the Walker recall fight for the Tea Party. Walker is a leading national figure for the movement, which is investing heavily in the battle and would suffer a major rebuke should he lose.

What else?

By  |  08:59 AM ET, 05/15/2012

 
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