BUSINESS
03/12/2013 07:54 am ET

Obama Goes Bargain Hunting: Seven And A Half Things To Know

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Thing One: Obama Goes Bargain-Hunting: President Obama just cannot ever stop trying to get Republicans to go along with this hare-brained idea of cutting a "grand bargain" on the deficit.

Obama launches a new charm offensive today to sell the grand bargain, making a series of rare trips to Capitol Hill to try to talk the GOP into taking some more tax hikes and the Democrats into taking some cuts to Social Security and Medicare, the Wall Street Journal writes. This follows a dinner he had last week with a bunch of Republican senators and lunch with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Munster). If only Obama had worked this hard to pass the American Jobs Act!

Anyway, it appears that no one wants to listen to the president, meaning a grand bargain may be no easier to strike now than it was in 2011 or 2012 or any other time Obama has failed to do it. If you need evidence, the Wall Street Journal writes that Ryan will once again be trotting out the smelly corpse of the GOP 2012 platform, smearing it with lipstick and powder and declaring it his latest cutting-edge budget plan, sure to wow the Sunday talk shows all over again. It is almost as if nobody is ever going to budge from their entrenched positions. But there is hope, if that's the right word, for a grand bargain, according to the Washington Post: Ryan has said some things lately to suggest he's maybe willing to compromise.

Eh, let's hope not: What the economy doesn't really need right now is any grand bargain on the budget, unless it involves pushing the pain of austerity off well into the future and undoing some of the damage already done to the economy by fiscal cliffs and sequesters and what not. Economic growth will help bring the budget down better than any grand bargain, and the deficit is already shrinking. Washington needs to quit getting in the way.

Thing Two: Watchdog Watch: Mary Jo White and Richard Cordray, Obama's nominees to head the Securities and Exchange Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, respectively, go before the Senate Banking Committee today to be judged. Among those doing the judging will be new Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), which should be interesting, considering this same panel prevented her from getting the CFPB job. As for White, she will be taking flak from both sides, writes the WSJ -- from Republicans because she will claim to be tough on crime and from Democrats because she has spent the past several years asking how high the banks want her to jump. As for Cordray, he is probably doomed, the WSJ writes: Republicans in Congress are busy thwarting the will of the rest of Congress by never allowing the CFPB to get off the ground, constantly fighting over its structure and challenging Obama's recess appointment of Cordray to the post, which could tie the CFPB up in court for a long time. Cordray's recess appointment could well expire before the fight is over, the WSJ writes.

Thing Three: Illinois Maybe Kinda Sorta Allegedly Lied To Investors: But even without a permanent chair just yet, the SEC is continuing its work. Those wrists aren't going to just slap themselves, you know. The latest in line to take its medicine is the entire State of Illinois, which for several years allegedly neglected to tell buyers of its bonds that it didn't have enough money to pay both bondholders and people with pensions, according to a settlement. Illinois didn't have to pay any fines, understandably, on account of not having any money. But it also didn't have to admit or deny wrongdoing. It only had to pinky-swear not to lie to investors again, which it solemnly did. Okay, then!

Thing Four: U.S. Insists China Knock Off The Hacking: Obama's national security advisor, Thomas Donilon, demanded yesterday that China put a stop to the constant, blatant hacking of U.S. computers by Chinese sources, the NYT writes. China, which has denied having anything to do with the hacking, said it was willing to talk about cyber-security, while still denying it had anything to do with it and being kind of offended that the U.S. would suspect it, Reuters writes.

Thing Five: Another Day, Another Record: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose for the seventh straight day yesterday, closing at a new record high, the WSJ writes. A closely watched gauge of market fear, the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, or VIX, tumbled to its lowest levels since 2007, which is either a sign that all of our problems have been solved or that we are living in total denial.

Thing Six: New York Still Home Of Bottomless Soda: A New York State judge ruled yesterday that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg can't tell anybody how much soda they can buy, striking down the mayor's controversial limits on certain sales of big, sugary soft drinks. Bloomberg's office vowed to appeal the decision, saying it was only looking out for the best interests of slovenly New Yorkers.

Thing Seven: You Are What You 'Like:' Be careful when you "like" stuff on Facebook: Your "like" patterns can reveal a lot of uncomfortable stuff about you, according to a new study of 58,000 Facebook users, the WSJ writes. "People who share the 'Likes' do not realize that they are sharing very private issues as well," Cambridge University psychologist Michal Kosinski, the study's leader, told the WSJ.

Thing Seven And One Half: Best. Arrested Development Episode. Ever: Happy birthday to Mitt Romney (66), Liza Minelli (67) and Darryl Strawberry (51)!

Also born on this day: Coca-Cola, which was first bottled and sold in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1894, almost 119 years to the day before a New York State judge ruled that Mayor Bloomberg is not allowed to tell anybody how much Coca-Cola they can buy at any one time.

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