TV Ad Smears Wall Street Watchdog During GOP Debates


Sometimes you can tell as much about a presidential debate by the TV commercials that air in between segments as by the debate itself.


The American Action Group, a self-proclaimed center-right “action tank,” aired a TV advertisement attacking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during the Republican debate Tuesday night. The ad argues that the agency makes it harder for Americans to secure loans they need to buy homes and start businesses.


“With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, those who need help the most are denied,” a narrator intones in a deep, foreboding voice. 


As the narrator decries the agency, viewers see government bureaucrats in rows of desks with rubber stamps, robotically denying ordinary Americans’ applications for loans. Soviet-like red banners looming in the background of the dungeon-like bureaucratic building feature images of Richard Cordray, director of the CFPB, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who developed the idea for the agency and pushed for its creation.


“Tell Congress to stop the CFPB now, before they deny you,” the narrator concludes.


The American Action Group is spending $500,000 to air the ad seven times during the debates, according to Politico.


Congress created the CFPB in 2010 as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. The agency is meant to function as a consumer product safety commission for financial products. It has investigated big banks’ student loan operations and payday lenders, among other sectors of the financial industry, for predatory practices.


It is not clear what the American Action Group’s basis is for claiming that the CFPB’s policing of financial actors has resulted in the increased denial of home loans for ordinary people. Construction on new, private homes has risen 12 percent in the previous year, as of September.


The American Action Group is the 501(c)4, or so-called “social welfare” advocacy nonprofit, for the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank. Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), now a lobbyist, chairs the American Action Group’s board. Board members include several successful financiers.


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