In political campaign ads across the county, references to Wall Street have become synonymous with greed and corruption, and the anti-Wall Street fervor has even been contaminating the image of New York City, according to a published report.
More than 200 political candidates have run ads criticizing the financial industry or trying to paint their opponent as sympathetic to -- or benefiting from -- Wall Street, according to the New York Times. In some cases, even being associated with New York City is painted as a sign of poor judgment, corporate kickbacks, economic malfeasance and general out-of-touchness with the concerns of working Americans.
In one such ad, Georgia Congressman Jim Marshall is shown driving around New York with House speaker Nancy Pelosi. The pair make their way through a parade on Wall Street, and Pelosi, inching ever closer to Marshall during their trip, drive to Times Square -- several miles and a world away from Wall Street -- to bask in the bright lights. The ad ends by saying that Marshall "is looking out for Wall Street, not Main Street."
Attack ads have also lambasted some candidates -- Pennsylvania Senate candidate Pat Toomey and Ohio gubernatorial candidate John R. Kasich, among them -- for once working on Wall Street.
Other candidates have been linked to Wall Street's evil-ness simply for voting in favor of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, the "bank bailout" plan that allowed the U.S. government to purchase assets and equity from troubled financial institutions. That program has been widely credited by economists as saving the U.S. financial industry from total collapse.
Wall Street aside -- even being too closely associated with New York City has been used to attack some candidates.
Rand Paul, a Republican running for Senate in Kentucky, kicked off his campaign with a fund-raiser at Webster Hall in Manhattan. His opponents questioned his hometown loyalty and "frowns" on his choice of locale for fundraising.
The Times says most these attack ads have been sponsored by Democratic candidates. Ninety-eight percent of the anti-New York ads have aired in districts outside of New York, Erika Franklin Fowler, a political science professor at Wesleyan University, told the paper.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the new anti-Wall Street commercials reinforce unfair and inaccurate stereotypes about the city and the financial industry.
“More than half the New Yorkers who work in the financial-services industry make $71,000 or less, but the reality that these are middle-class jobs sadly isn’t reflected in campaign rhetoric here or anywhere else,” said Stu Loeser, the mayor’s press secretary.