White House calls out Chamber for ad buy


The Barack Obama administration has pledged to work with Sen. Chris Dodds (D-CT) to enact legislation to hold financial institutions accountable for their failures and avoid another taxpayer bailout. It is none too pleased that the US Chamber of Commerce is spending $3M to fight the legislation.

“Just yesterday we learned that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, no stranger to fighting for the status quo, plans to launch a $3 million ad campaign aimed at bringing down the much needed reforms of our financial system,” wrote Deputy Communications Director Jen Psaki on the White House blog. “That’s $3 million to fight a bill that will protect American families by establishing a consumer financial protection agency that will bring transparency, stronger supervision and clear rules of the road to our financial system.”

Psaki acknowledged the Chamber’s right to do as it pleases, saying, “If the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to come to the aid of the financial institutions that helped bring about this crisis, that’s their choice.”

She concluded, “But the President will work to ensure that we bring long overdue reforms to our financial system, because doing so will benefit the American people by laying a foundation for long-term growth and stability in our economy.”

RBR-TVBR observation: The Obama campaign had a clear understanding of the value of advertising, and that hasn’t been lost as it transitioned to being the Obama administration. The White House has no compunction at all about calling attention to ad buys from organizations that oppose administration goals.

In both cases we’re witnessing the First Amendment at work. The Chamber has every right to buy television time, and the White House has every right to use its bully pulpit to call them out on it.

As a practical matter, the Chamber is paying to make sure its message gets out, where it wants it to get out. The White House will require press coverage. In this skirmish, we have to call it Advantage: Chamber.