California's 43rd Congressional District
With Barney Frank's exit as both a Massachusetts U.S. representative and as ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee, Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters would appear to be next in line on the panel.
Waters has been tough on the banks. She sponsored the 2008 Neighborhood Stabilization Act, which authorizes a $15 billion federal grant-and-loan program to help state and local governments purchase, rehabilitate and resell or rent foreclosed homes.
To keep up pressure, however, she must carry the newly redrawn district she's running in, California's 43rd. Despite her popularity, redistricting, an ethics investigation and longstanding allegations of conflicts of interest and corruption have stoked fears that could derail Waters' future in Congress. In September, Waters was absolved of charges she lobbied for bailout funds for a bank affiliated with her husband. She's expected to hold her seat. If she loses, the ranking Democratic committeemember would be Carolyn Maloney of New York.
The bottom line: Exonerated on ethics charges, Waters will move up as ranking minority member of the House Financial Services Committee.
Election Projection data: Noncompetitive race, Waters favored
Momentum: It's over.
The Ohio Senate race
Incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, has emerged as one of the biggest threats to Wall Street since the financial crisis.
He introduced legislation to break up the big banks and reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, a Depression-era law that separated investment banking and commercial banking. "It's time for those who profess the virtues of the 'free market' to put their equity where their mouth is. That means an end to the government guarantees," Brown argued.
It's a view that hasn't gone over very well with the big banks. They have spent heavily through political action committees and other donations to rival Josh Mandel, 33. He's the state treasurer and one of the fresh young faces of the Republican Party -- even younger and fresher than Brown in Massachusetts.
Mandel and Brown haven't sparred over Brown's break-up-the-banks bill, but Mandel has gone after Brown for voting for the bank bailouts in 2008.
The bottom line: The Democratic majority in the Senate and Brown's future in Washington will almost certainly set the tone on further changes to the banking industry.
RealClearPolitics poll : Brown by 5.2 points
Romney vs. Obama for president
Last but not least, this race for president has been rare in that it offers two different visions on how investment income would be treated.
The incumbent believes that investments should be encouraged through lower taxes when they are made by lower-income and middle-class Americans. The challenger believes that those incentives, mainly through lower taxes, should be applied to everyone including the wealthy and super-wealthy, whom Romney and his team refer to as "job creators."
Though neither side has been specific, it's fairly clear that in a second term, President Barack Obama would seek to end the Bush-era tax cuts for those making more than $250,000. Romney not only wouldn't raise those rates, he would lower taxes in all brackets while eliminating some exemptions and deductions -- except for those on investments.
It's pretty clear that those who make their living as investors would have a better chance of keeping their profits under Romney. But there is a risk. Those gains could be significantly offset if a President Romney tried to eliminate mortgage-interest deductions or state and local tax deductions.
The bottom line: Tax policy is the big kahuna for investors. Romney is clearly the better choice if you want to keep what you make. But if you're worried about the deficit, there are legitimate questions about whether we can afford those breaks.
RealClearPolitics poll average: Too close to call
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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished an upbeat week on a mixed note. The S&P 500 shed less than a point, ending the week higher by 1.3%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) cemented a 1.7% advance for the week. High-beta names underperformed, which weighed on the Nasdaq Composite (-0.3%) and the Russell 2000 (-1.3%).
Equity indices displayed strength in the early going with the S&P 500 tagging the 2,019 level during the opening 30 minutes of the action. However, ... More
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