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Why Chris Christie can’t dodge discussion of the minimum wage

Christie at the Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) doesn't want to talk about the minimum wage, but if he's thinking of running for president, he's going to have to.

"I'm tired of hearing about the minimum wage," Christie told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. "I really am. I don't think there's a mother or a father sitting around the kitchen table tonight in America saying, 'You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.' "

Christie repeated a common critique of the minimum wage -- that is only is earned by kids on summer or weekend jobs -- but the truth is quite different. About half of workers earning minimum wage in this country are at least 25, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. About 4.5 million parents are raising children on a wage less than $10.10 per hour (sometimes proposed as a new minimum), writes Ben Casselman.

In his remarks, Christie argued that what Americans want is economic growth -- not an increase in the minimum wage. But, of course, the two aren't mutually exclusive. While raising the minimum wage may have a moderate impact on employment, it also puts money in the hands of people who are most likely to spend it.

According to a Congressional Budget Office report from earlier this year, some people would likely lose their jobs if the minimum wage were raised, but it isn't clear how many: anywhere from a negligible number to around 1 million. Overall, though, real income would increase by $2 billion. And the poor and the middle class would benefit, while families with household incomes above $142,000 would lose out since the minimum wage is, in essence, a redistribution of income from owners and consumers to workers.

Beyond the economics, the minimum wage is likely to be remain a contentious political issue. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, two thirds of Americans support raising the minimum wage, including half of Republicans and 65 percent of independents. Democrats, who are proposing an increase from $7.25 to $10.10, had hoped to use the issue as a bludgeon against Republicans this year, until foreign policy, Ebola and other topics got in the way.

Christie seems not to think the minimum wage resonates very much. He vetoed an increase in New Jersey's minimum wage last year. According to spokesman Kevin Roberts, the governor actually supported an increase but objected to the specific proposal to include the minimum wage in the state constitution. Still, a muddy picture.

Other Republicans seem to be more in tune with the public's wage consciousness, including one in particular, who's increasingly coming up as a potential 2016 candidate: Mitt Romney. "I think we ought to raise it," he has said. "Frankly, our party is all about more jobs and better pay."

In memory of Ben Bradlee, 1921-2014, here's the beginning of a lecture he gave on public dishonesty: "I would like to talk about government lying. Calculated lies. The willful deception of the public for political end, especially under the disguise of national security..."

What's in Wonkbook: 1) The Hispanic vote 2) Opinions: Obama's conservatism, the global economy and the political parties 3) Remembering Ben Bradlee 4) Stimulating and opening up the housing market 5) Gov. Kasich on Obamacare, energy issues in political ads, the future of the Internet and more

Please welcome Chris Mooney (@chriscmooney), the newest member of the Wonkblog team. His inaugural post for the blog: 2014 might well prove to be the hottest year on record, but climate records are breaking so often now, we've stopped paying attention. The Washington Post.

Chart of the day:

The Pew Research Center ranks news sources according to how conservative or liberal their audiences are. Aaron Blake in The Washington Post.

1. Top story: Democrats can't depend on the Latino vote

Republicans would keep their majority in the House even if they lost every last Hispanic voter. Gerrymandering is only partly to blame. Most Hispanics live in urban districts where Democrats are strong, so Republicans in the House simply don't need their support to get elected. Nate Cohn in The New York Times.

Frustration with the president's failure to pass immigration reform is discouraging some Hispanics from voting. "Obama promised too much and never delivered," one man said. Mark Barabak in the Los Angeles Times.

Also, there aren't that many Hispanics in states with competitive Senate races. Latinos make up only 4.7 percent of eligible voters on average in eight competitive states, according to the Pew Research Center. Henry Gass in The Christian Science Monitor.

That said, pollsters may be ignoring Hispanics who don't speak English. Reelection chances for Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) are better than the polls indicate, one expert argues. Hispanics are fully 14.2 percent of the electorate in Colorado. Adrian Carrasquillo in BuzzFeed

In other election news, both parties are lawyering up in anticipation of close races in Louisiana, Georgia and other states. Their plans are a secret, though. Phil Mattingly in Bloomberg.

2. Top opinions: Obama's conservatism, the tenuous global economy, and the parties.

BARTLETT: Obama is a Republican. His foreign policy has been hawkish. He's more fiscally conservative than most Republicans (especially his predecessor). Obamacare is "is virtually textbook Republican health policy." What's not to like? The American Conservative.

AVENT: The risk of a global depression is rising. As happened 80 years ago, most central banks are incapable of stimulating the economy, and the ones that can (specifically, the U.S. Federal Reserve) are choosing not to help. The Economist.

EDSALL: Stronger parties could lead to less polarization. Reforms designed to restrain the parties and hamper their leadership have weakened a moderate force for compromise. The New York Times.

SARGENT: Sitting down with a focus group of moms. They weren't worried about Ebola or the Islamic State, but they did blame Obama for failing to secure the border. The child-migrant crisis is weighing down Democrats more than expected. The Washington Post.

SUDERMAN: This election has been strikingly substance-free. Democrats are afraid to run on the president's agenda, but Republicans don't have an alternative to talk about. Reason.

3. Remembering Ben Bradlee

A legendary editor who transformed the Washington Post. A beloved and charismatic editor, who led the paper's coverage of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate. Robert G. Kaiser in The Washington Post.

Tributes from President Obama, Bob Woodward and WashPost staff.  in The Washington Post

David Remnick remembers Ben Bradlee. Must-read, if only for the anecdote about the subpoena. David Remnick in The New Yorker.

That night Richard Nixon called Ben Bradlee. Albert R. Hunt in Bloomberg View.

How Ben Bradlee changed feature writing.  Nothing pleased Bradlee "more than a piece that nailed the corrupt, pricked a narcissist, uncovered a creep, exposed a phony, felled a climber and really told it like it was." Martha Sherrill in The Washington Post.

12 great moments from Bradlee's memoir. Nia-Malika Henderson in The Washington Post.

4. Regulators reverse course, aiming to make it easier to buy a home.

FDIC drops a proposed requirement for down payments of 20 percent on securitized mortgages. Instead, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will allow banks to securitize mortgages as long as borrowers meet certain conditions designed to prevent risky loans from being divvied up and repackaged. If the conditions aren't met, the bank will have to retain 5 percent of the risk. Clea Benson in Bloomberg.

The administration will also clarify rules on repurchases. Banks complain that Fannie and Freddie look for typos and minor errors as an excuse to back out when a borrower defaults. Federal Housing Finance Agency head Mel Watt promised to clarify when Fannie and Freddie can back out of a guarantee, among other steps to encourage banks to lend to borrowers with lower incomes and credit scores. Dina ElBoghdady in The Washington Post.

But banks might not be reassured enough to actually lend more generously. Trust between banks and federal regulators has broken down, as banks feel like they're being blamed wrongly for harmless mistakes.  John Carney in The Wall Street Journal. 

The new rules are a change in direction for the feds, who tightened lending standards after the financial crisis. Yet loosening standards to bring more buyers into the market comes with risks. "Critics say Washington’s moves are enshrining, perhaps permanently, the dominant role of the federal government in the mortgage market. Some predict the push to loosen lending standards could end just as badly as it did before the 2008 housing bust." Alan Zibel and Joe Light in The Wall Street Journal.

DANNY VINIK: Housing policy is Obama's most significant failure. Real help for distressed borrowers -- in the form of writing down their original loans -- would have stimulated the economy, making voters more likely to support Democrats in Congress. The New Republic.

5. In case you missed it

Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) supports repealing Obamacare -- but wants to protect the Medicaid expansion. The problem is that the president's health care law provides $792 billion in funding for the expansion in savings from other programs. If the law is repealed, where will the money come from? In other words, Kasich is the kind of governor that takes apart the Oreo and eats only the frosting -- which will increasingly be a temptation for Republicans considering a presidential run in 2016.  Jason Millman in The Washington Post.

Campaign spots are focusing on energy and the environment. It's the most mentioned issue in Senate ads after health care and jobs. Republicans are attacking Democrats on coal in Kentucky and West Virginia, while Democrats are calling on Republicans to acknowledge climate change in more liberal states. Coral Davenport and Ashley Parker in The New York Times.

How the New York Fed missed a chance to harpoon the London Whale. Years before unsound trades cost JPMorgan's shareholders $6.2 billion. A hard-pressed staff at the Fed ignored warnings about risk-taking at the bank's chief investment office and never conducted an investigation, according to an inspector general's report. Joseph Cotterill in The Financial Times.

While you're watching cat videos, diplomats at a U.N. conference in Busan, South Korea will be deciding who controls the future of the Internet.  The Internet has always been essentially under the aegis of the United States, but following disclosures about surveillance, China, Russia and other countries are asserting their power in global online governance. U.S. diplomats say they're just looking to make censorship easier. Izabella Kaminska in The Financial Times.

Travelers from countries affected by Ebola must now fly into one of the five airports with new screening protocols. Since 94 percent of passengers from the region already fly into those airports, the new restriction won't mean much for travelers or for the spread of the virus. Brian Bennett in the Los Angeles Times.

KARUNA JAGGER: Corporations pay Susan G. Komen to tie a pink ribbon around their carcinogenic products. Baker Hughes, an oilfield services company, will be providing pink drill bits for use in fracking. The Washington Post.