Karl Rove’s independent group Crossroads GPS is up with a new advertisement today, smearing Massachusetts senate candidate Elizabeth Warren (D) by insinuating that she was responsible for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the bank bailout that took place at the height of the financial crisis.
The ad blames Warren for “bailing out the same banks that caused the financial meltdown, bailouts that helped pay big bonuses to bank executives while middle class Americans lost out.” It closes by imploring the viewer to “tell Professor Warren we need jobs, not more bailouts and bigger government.”
The accusation that Warren is responsible for TARP, bank bailouts, or huge executive bonuses is beyond absurd. TARP and the bank bailouts were Republican ideas that began under President Bush. As Simon Johnson notes, Warren “has also been a strong supporter of all efforts to rein in Too Big To Fail banks, including by breaking them up.”
In fact, her work creating and heading up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau involved advocating directly on consumers’ behalf, a key check on the power of big banks. She also ran the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP, where her role was to track the money that was given to the banks. She was extremely critical of both the banks’ and Washington’s inability to accurately account for TARP money.
Viewers could be excused for thinking that Crossroads GPS might not even believe the veracity of its own ad, given that a month ago, they released a different ad accusing Warren of “sid[ing] with extreme left protests” and supporting the Occupy Wall Street protesters.
In fact, if Crossroads actually cared about fighting back against excessive bank power, they would release an ad critical of Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), whose top 10 contributors include six banks or financial institutions, such as Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital. In total, the financial industry has contributed over $2.9 million to Brown’s campaign. It is unclear where Crossroads’ funding comes from because under existing election law, groups like Crossroads GPS are not required to disclose their donors, nor are there limits on how much those donors can give.
Crossroads GPS was one of the largest-spending outside groups in the 2010 election. There is little doubt that the group’s 2012 spending will dwarf its expenditures last year, using unlimited amounts of undisclosed money to run smears like the Warren ad against progressive candidates around the country.