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Republicans strike back at new Titus ad, question bailout claim

Republicans struck back Tuesday at a new ad in support of Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev.

On Monday Titus unveiled the ad — the first of her re-election campaign — that shows homeowners she and her staff helped negotiate better mortgage deals to retain their houses.

The ad, which featured homeowners describing how Titus helped them cut through bureaucratic red tape at banks in order to get action on mortgage problems, closed with Titus saying: "I’m Dina Titus and I approve this message because it is time we stand up and fight back."

In a Republican response Tuesday National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Joanna Burgos called the ad "full of hot air and half-truths."

Specifically, the Republicans quibbled with the claim in the ad that Titus "even voted against the bank bailout."

Said Burgos: "Contrary to the lip service in her ad, Titus never voted against the bank bailout because she wasn’t even in Congress at the time."

It is true that Titus wasn’t in Congress in October, 2008, when the Senate approved the bailout, or Troubled Asset Relief Program, by a vote of 74-25 and the House followed suit approving an amended version 263-171 after initially rejecting it.

But in January Titus did vote against a follow-up bill to authorize another $350 billion in spending under the bill.

That vote, however, was characterized as "political protection" by Congressional Quarterly because it allowed members to make a symbolic anti-bailout vote but didn’t actually stop any money from moving.

The original bank bailout bill, called TARP, was for $700 billion but required the money to be approved in two $350 billion chunks.

After the original bill passed under President George W. Bush, many in Congress didn’t like the way it was spent, in large part because then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson shifted from the proposed plan of buying troubled assets to making direct investments in banks, Congressional Quarterly reported.

That prompted Congressional rumblings that the second half of the bailout money, to be used by the new administration of President Barack Obama, should be blocked.

The rumblings became moot, however, as the Senate approved the second half of the funding. Since the TARP bill only required approval from either the House or the Senate to release the second $350 billion, the subsequent House vote Titus participated in was meaningless.

"This is kind of a big public opinion poll for the House," Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who helped craft the bailout bill in his role as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was quoted in Congressional Quarterly.

Titus also voted in favor of an amendment — also symbolic in nature — that called for restrictions on TARP spending, such as a requirement that $40 billion be used to reduce home foreclosures.

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