During Tuesday night's Republican debate, a commercial against Elizabeth Warren ran multiple times. It warned against the dangers of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a consumer watchdog agency created by Warren. The spot depicted the CFPB as housed in a Soviet-era government building, complete with cold grey walls, stone-faced bureaucrats, and ominous banners featuring the face of — you guessed it — Elizabeth Warren! Not surprisingly, Warren spotted the commercial, and responded to it on Twitter.
The idea of the commercial, see, is that the CFPB equals communism, which would make Warren the modern-day equivalent of Josef Stalin. Subtle! Of course, the truth is nothing of the sort. Warren first proposed a consumer watchdog agency in 2007, when she was a Harvard Law professor, and the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill created the CFPB. The agency is not, as the ad implies, a Stalinist boot crushing the throats of innocent consumers. It spends most of its time regulating credit card companies and penalizing banks for deceptive business practices — boring but important things.
The ad was produced by an advocacy group called American Action Network, and it aired several times during the debate. Eventually, Warren herself piped in.
This isn't the first time the CFPB has been used as a political football. President Obama had initially planned to appoint Warren to head the agency. However, Senate Republicans pledged to block her appointment at all costs, so he removed her from consideration. Ultimately, this short-term victory backfired spectacularly on Republicans. Because the GOP obstinately refused let her head the CFPB, Warren decided to run for the Senate instead. Now, of course, she's a senator, and that's a far more powerful position than head of the CFPB.