Mitt Romney speaks on the 2012 campaign trail in Farmington Hills, Mich. (AP/Gerald Herbert)
Mitt Romney speaks on the 2012 campaign trail in Farmington Hills, Mich. (AP/Gerald Herbert)

Mitt Romney is preparing to run for president for a third time. But if he is launching a campaign, it was off to a bad start already with this verdict on his last one in The Wall Street Journal the day before, from an article about Republicans' new emphasis on wage stagnation and economic mobility:

For Republicans circling the 2016 race, the focus on struggling segments of the population is a response of sorts to the 2012 contest, when the party’s nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney , struggled to present himself as an empathetic figure. Many Republicans considering bids this time seem set on forging a new path, one that stays true to conservative beliefs but with a firmer eye on seeking potential solutions to address Americans’ continued frustration with the economy.

Romney didn't have much of an economic agenda when he ran in his last campaign. That said, if he is looking for one that could appeal to the middle class and the poor, there are plenty of ideas out there.


Welcome to Wonkbook. To subscribe by e-mail, click here. Send comments, criticism or ideas to Wonkbook at Washpost dot com. Follow Wonkblog on Twitter and Facebook.


What's in Wonkbook: 1) Obama's cybersecurity proposal 2) Opinions, including Ponnuru on Democrats' economic populism 3) Romney reassembles his campaign team, and more

Map of the day: 


There were 2,621,514 goats in the United States in 2012, concentrated in Texas but residing throughout all fifty states. Christopher Ingraham in The Washington Post.

1. Top story: Obama seeks data-sharing between firms and government

The proposal would indemnify firms that share information on hacks with federal agencies. It sounds sensible enough, but civil liberties advocates are concerned that intelligence services would gain access to users' personal data. Ellen Nakashima and Katie Zezima in The Washington Post

The White House is trying to reconcile civil liberties with cybersecurity. "The legislation announced by the president would require participating companies to take certain privacy measures in order to qualify for the liability protections. ... But it remains unclear whether the proposal will get buy-in, both from businesses who might be reluctant about the new scrubbing requirements, and from privacy advocates who could worry they don’t go far enough." Justin Sink in The Hill.

Another provision would require companies to notify their customers of any breach. "Companies are enthusiastic about the proposal because they already have to notify consumers about data breaches due to laws in 47 states plus the District of Columbia. The laws vary from state to state, so compliance can be a major headache for national chains like Target. ... But privacy advocates are less thrilled with the proposal. They worry that if Congress preempts state laws, it could actually loosen the reporting requirements for companies." Brendan Sasso in National Journal.

And there's more. Obama also proposed more protections for data generated by students in the classroom, and he wants more Americans to have access to a free credit score. Brian Fung in The Washington Post.

2. Top opinions

YORK: Obama's absence from the march in Paris on Sunday reflects his attitude toward terrorism. "The administration no-shows were not a failure of optics, or a diplomatic misstep, but were instead the logical result of the president's years-long effort to downgrade the threat of terrorism and move on to other things." The Washington Examiner.

MILBANK: Republicans flip-flop on France. "A decade ago, Republicans in Congress were renaming French fries 'freedom fries' and French toast 'freedom toast' because of that country's refusal to support the Iraq war. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld belittled the 'old Europe' French, President George W. Bush mocked an American reporter for speaking French to the French president, and conservative critics called the French 'weasels,' 'appeasers' and worse." The Washington Post.

LUCE: France and the United States have moved past their recent differences. "In 2003, many Americans saw France as a weak-kneed appeaser of Third World dictators — Saddam Hussein being the latest. Some of it was true. The French have few scruples in dealing with thuggish regimes when there is profit to be made. But France — and Germany — stood against the Iraq invasion on principle and substance. With hindsight they were prescient." The Financial Times.

PONNURU: Democrats' proposals to help the middle class wouldn't create economic growth. "While the Post quotes several Democrats who say they think that voters care more about economic growth than redistribution, the proposal sounds entirely redistributive. Much of it also seems likely to be ineffective. The tax incentive to boost wages does little to combat the powerful forces that have suppressed wage growth in recent years (such as rising health-care costs). The new higher-education policies mostly funnel more money to a system that does a poor job of meeting the needs of middle- and lower-income students." Bloomberg View.

Dynamic scoring has dangers. "The U.S. economy is so complex, and the assumptions that must be built into any model of its workings so inherently subject to educated guesswork, that it’s not clear that dynamic scoring actually would add precision to imprecise budget estimates. Conversely, to the extent analysts try to be cautious in their assumptions, the more they would simply replicate existing procedures. So the risks that the new rule will enable fiscally irresponsible tax cuts are high in relation to the prospects that it will actually enhance information quality." The Washington Post.

Community colleges should be fixed before they're subsidized. "High dropout rates are not all the community colleges' fault. Many students arrive unprepared or are distracted by job and family responsibilities. Tuition, on the other hand, is usually not the biggest obstacle to getting a degree. After all, for many students, community college is effectively free already." Bloomberg View.

BERSHIDSKY: If we're in a price war with the Saudis, we're going to lose. "Many U.S. frackers will keep pumping at a loss because they have debts to service: about $200 billion in total debt, comparable to the financing needs of Russia's state energy companies. The problem for U.S. frackers is that it's impossible to refinance those debts if you're bleeding cash. At some point, if prices stay low, the most leveraged of the companies will go belly up." Bloomberg View.

Chart of the day: 


Although the unemployment rate is falling, wages haven't begun to increase as economists would expect. One explanation could be that many people have given up looking for work, so the unemployment rate gives an unduly optimistic impression of the state of the labor market. Indeed, wages (blue) correlate better with a projection based on the total number of people in the labor force, employed and unemployed (green) than with a projection based on the unemployment rate alone (red). Jared Bernstein in The Washington Post.

3. In case you missed it

Mitt Romney is getting the band back together. "Romney is moving quickly to reassemble his national political network, calling former aides, donors and other supporters over the weekend and on Monday in a concerted push to signal his seriousness about possibly launching a 2016 presidential campaign. Romney's message, as he told one senior Republican, was that he 'almost certainly will' make what would be his third bid for the White House. ... Romney said he is intent on running to the right of [Jeb] Bush, who also is working vigorously to court donors and other party establishment figures for a 2016 bid." Robert Costa, Philip Rucker and Karen Tumulty in The Washington Post.

Obama signs the terrorism risk insurance law -- and pulls a few teeth out of Dodd-Frank. "The bill included an unrelated provision opposed by progressives, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The measure scraps a number of Dodd-Frank financial regulations on several financial services industry sectors, dubbed "end users" in Washington-speak. Republicans and centrist Democrats argued that these restrictions were only intended for big banks." Kevin Cirilli in The Hill.

In other financial news, Antonio Weiss has withdrawn in the face of opposition from Senate progressives. "But the Lazard banker will still join the administration in the position of counselor to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, which does not require Senate confirmation." Ben White in Politico.

Health insurance for children could pay for itself. "Giving them health coverage may boost their future earnings for decades. And the taxes they pay on those higher incomes may help pay the government back for some of its investment." Margot Sanger-Katz in The New York Times.

Parks and Recreation returns for its final season Tuesday. The underappreciated comedy's ongoing joke is about government and politics: People don't care when you do nice things for them. It's a hopeful satire of bureaucratic life. Will Leitch for Bloomberg.