- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 17, 2009

Democrats are targeting a dozen vulnerable House Republicans with a media blitz beginning this week that accuses them of protecting the interests of big banks at the expense of ordinary Americans.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is using the campaign, which includes radio advertisements, automated telephone calls, live calls and more than 4 million e-mails, to criticize the Republicans for voting against a bill this month to overhaul the regulatory system of the nation’s financial sector.

A key component of the measure, which passed the House with zero Republican support, calls for a new consumer protection agency to guard the public against unscrupulous mortgage dealers and what Democrats say are abusive industry practices, such as excessive credit-card rate increases.

“For years, House Republicans let big banks take huge risks that threatened our financial markets and left hard-working American taxpayers holding the bill,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the DCCC chairman.

The DCCC on Wednesday began running radio ads in the districts of five of the 12 targeted Republicans - Reps. Dan Lungren and Mary Bono Mack of California, Lee Terry of Nebraska, Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and Joe Wilson of South Carolina.

The fundraising and recruiting arm of House Democrats, the DCCC said it will soon announce a second phase of the campaign, which will include ads against the other targeted Republicans. The campaign committee has not identified the other seven Republicans.

DCCC spokesman Ryan Rudominer declined to say how much the committee is paying for the ads but said the cost is “significant.”

The DCCC considers the 12 Republican seats winnable for Democrats in the November 2010 election. The committee has attracted a host of high-profile Democratic challengers for the districts, many of which went for President Obama last year.

“We will continue to go district by district to hold House Republicans accountable for their continued obedience to Wall Street fat cats at the expense of American taxpayers and consumers,” Mr. Rudominer said.

The Cook Political Report and Congressional Quarterly rate the Lungren, Terry and Dent races as “leaning Republican.” Both publications rate the Bono Mack and Wilson races as “likely Republican.”

The DCCC’s opposite number, the National Republican Congressional Committee, brushed aside the Democratic attack as a toothless - and inevitably fruitless - partisan exercise.

“Being on the opposite side of Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and [House Financial Services Chairman] Barney Frank is never a political liability, which may explain why more than two dozen Democrats joined Republicans in opposing this permanent bailout legislation,” NRCC spokesman Paul Lindsay said.

The Wall Street regulatory overhaul bill calls for an independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency intended to protect the public against abuses such as unscrupulous mortgage deals and excessive credit-card rates. Business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Financial Services Roundtable, lobbied strongly against the proposed agency.

The bill also would create a Financial Services Oversight Council to monitor the financial system. The agency would identify and regulate financial firms that are so large and interconnected that their collapse would put the entire financial system at risk - a scenario that prompted Congress in the fall of 2008 to approve the publicly unpopular $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

Also, the bill would give the government the authority to step in and dismantle failing non-bank financial firms that threaten the economy.

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