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(15,480 posts)
Wed Apr 20, 2016, 08:37 AM Apr 2016

The Invisibility of U.S. Oligarchs: The Case of Penny Pritzker


Other countries, not the U.S., have oligarchs apparently. Billionaire and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker came and went to the National Press Club with hardly a tough question on Monday—see video and PDF.

I’d submitted several questions, but first a word on the choreography of the event: Virtually every “news maker” event I recall seeing at the Press Club had the speaker at the head table which is on a stage a few feet up, speaking at a podium. This event, it was just her and the moderator, Press Club President Thomas Burr on two cushy chairs on the stage, with the “head table” below them. Whether this was to elevate the two of them, save her the trouble of having prepared remarks, a new thing, an attempt to cast the billionaire in a more casual light—inspired by Davos type events—I don’t know. But it was weird.

Speaking of choreography, on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue around the same time, several hundred people were arrested at the Capitol Building as part of the “Democracy Spring” and “Democracy Awakening” actions. It seemed odd to me, protests happening, with “arrests” as part of a very planned action, aimed in part against money in politics, while the very personification of big business advocacy in government received virtually no scrutiny.

It’s not just her job, or that she and her family is incredibly rich. It’s that Pritzker enriched herself by crashing a bank with sub-prime loans, causing 1,400 people to lose their savings. In addition, a relation of hers was mentioned in the Panama Papers. So while so many were breathlessly reporting on associates of official bad guys like Putin being mentioned in the Panama Papers, hardly a soul noted the Pritzker connection. Finally, and perhaps most incredibly, Forbes several years ago did an investigation in to the Pritzker family and found that they set up shell companies decades ago in ways that would be illegal now. It’s in a sense not just oligarchy, it’s aristocracy. A newly rich person can’t do what they’ve done, according to Forbes. [See a summary of each of these issues, based on investigations by Tim Anderson, Dennis Bernstein, Stephane Fitch and McClatchy.]

The Invisibility of U.S. Oligarchs: The Case of Penny Pritzker (Original Post) Divernan Apr 2016 OP
Tough ???s submitted by Press Club members, but ignored by Pritzker Divernan Apr 2016 #1
k&r appal_jack Apr 2016 #3
It owns both parties, and ensures that they are... RiverNoord Apr 2016 #11
+1000 n/t paleotn Apr 2016 #20
Important to note the Harvard pipeline to Obama. Such a close little circle they live in. WhaTHellsgoingonhere Apr 2016 #25
These questions from Forbes also went unanswered Divernan Apr 2016 #2
3-part question on TPP/trade agreements - IGNORED! Divernan Apr 2016 #4
Last evening was a big night for the U.S. oligarchy. /nt NCjack Apr 2016 #5
K&R ReRe Apr 2016 #6
Once esteemed Natl. Press Club castrated like the MSM;reduced to stenographers Divernan Apr 2016 #7
Considered newsworthy she's the ONLY Billionaire in O's cabinet! Divernan Apr 2016 #8
"Their" claims in favor of the TPP are lies. Just as their claims in favor of past "trade deals". Enthusiast Apr 2016 #30
Shhh.... Penny Pritzker is Obama's personal billionaire AZ Progressive Apr 2016 #9
Pritzker was the money bags behind Obama which is why I voted for Hillary in the primary in 2008. fasttense Apr 2016 #10
It's like the American Revolution never happened. n/t Skwmom Apr 2016 #12
That's why the next Revolution will need a decidedly more French flavor to it! FighttheFuture Apr 2016 #14
I don't agree with that. n/t Skwmom Apr 2016 #16
I hope not, but... Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. FighttheFuture Apr 2016 #22
I Agree. n/t paleotn Apr 2016 #21
You nailed it. Enthusiast Apr 2016 #31
uh.. Putin is *still* the story Blue_Tires Apr 2016 #13
This was discussed on Flashpoints. OnyxCollie Apr 2016 #15
KPFA - 94.1`Berkely: Pritzker gets the royal treatment Divernan Apr 2016 #18
But, but, but she's a good Democrat! BuelahWitch Apr 2016 #17
The Privilege of the Pritzkers Octafish Apr 2016 #19
Wow. snot Apr 2016 #23
Ms. Pritzker Benefited Big Time from the Bankster Bailout... Octafish Apr 2016 #24
Thanks; bookmarked! snot Apr 2016 #26
Ironic name, "Penny" Quantess Apr 2016 #27
Cough! cough, cough... excuse me...... Hotler Apr 2016 #28
There are some greedy selfish hateful people at the top in this country and the Dem nomination is SammyWinstonJack Apr 2016 #29
K&R me b zola Apr 2016 #32


(15,480 posts)
1. Tough ???s submitted by Press Club members, but ignored by Pritzker
Wed Apr 20, 2016, 08:50 AM
Apr 2016

The press Club must have had to agree to let Pritzker screen the questions in advance, because none of the many tough questions submitted and quoted in the OP link were read to her by the Press Club President/moderator.

And off shore shell companies were in the news of late. Oxfam just released a report claiming: “Tax dodging by multinational corporations costs the U.S. approximately $111 billion each year and saps an estimated $100 billion every year from poor countries” [PDF]. A prior report from the Tax Justice Network would seem to indicate that this was a severe under estimate. That found that as of 2010, the super-rich are hiding at least $21 trillion in accounts outside their home countries [PDF].

I’d at least expected a mild question about off shore activity—and figured she’d talk about how the Obama administration is allegedly now making moves to stop tax inversions.

But there was nothing about any of this. At the news maker event, I wrote a question on a card on the nub of the issues at play, was something like this: “A relation of yours—Liesel Pritzker Simmons—is mentioned in the recently released Panama Papers. Do you have comment on the extent of off shore shell companies—especially given your family uses them through grandfather clauses in ways that would not be legal for anyone new now?”

That didn’t get asked, nor did several I’d submitted in an email prior to the to the Press Club president by email:

The Pope—and Bernie Sanders—talk about a “moral economy”—that it’s inherently unjust if a very few individuals and families have enormous wealth while billions on the planet have virtually nothing. Your family of course is enormously wealthy—What do you think of that? (for overview, “Panama Papers: Pritzkers, American Oligarchs”.)
You have been charged with crashing Superior Bank in Chicago with a subprime mortgage scheme, resulting in 1,400 people losing their savings. How do you respond to these charges? (”Obama’s Subprime Conflit” and Bloomberg “Pritzker’s Superior Bank Subprime Losses Blemish Resume”)
Do you argue that your massive fundraising efforts for Obama in 2008 and 2012 had nothing to do with him appointing you as Sec of Commerce? (See from Public Campaign “Penny Pritzker, Not Just an Obama Donor.”)

The name of Liesel Pritzker Simmons appears in the recently released Panama Papers, a relative who sued much of the rest of the family for allegedly trying to cheat her. But what’s perhaps notable about your family, as Forbes has written, is that you set up shell companies decades ago and thus can do things because of grandfather clauses that are not legal any more. Is that moral?


(3,813 posts)
3. k&r
Wed Apr 20, 2016, 09:00 AM
Apr 2016

Penny Pritzker is part of the present, 'Democratic' administration. The oligarchy seems to thrive in the US, regardless of the Party nominally in power.




(1,150 posts)
11. It owns both parties, and ensures that they are...
Wed Apr 20, 2016, 10:13 AM
Apr 2016

carefully managed to provide the illusion of major political divisions among Americans.

A political system with exactly two institutionalized political parties, instead of only one, presents many advantages to an oligarchy. If managed appropriately, it can provide an effective illusion of choice to the people of a country, who can be counted on to confine their voting behavior within familiar parameters. The framework of 'the issues' can be maintained in such a way to prevent most people from even comprehending the identity and nature of those who actually hold and direct the use of power. Social perspectives that are generally opposed to each other (issues like racism, sexism, gun control, abortion, gay rights, religion in/not in government) can be manipulated in order to cultivate and sustain animosity among people who might otherwise focus on questions like 'who really runs things and what are they doing?'

And they've gotten so good at it that the need for illusion is fading. Once the people of a country become generally resigned to the view that their country's politics are corrupt, the need for the facade is reduced...


(15,480 posts)
2. These questions from Forbes also went unanswered
Wed Apr 20, 2016, 09:00 AM
Apr 2016

Forbes—which estimates your net worth at 2.3 billion—had specific questions for you for—

* ‘Tell us from the very, very beginning: What led to your being paid $53.6 million in “consultant” income by your family’s offshore trusts in 2012?

* ‘Did your family’s carve-up finally produce significant tax payments?

* ‘Why are you your own biggest debtor?

* ‘Why is even your house in an LLC?

* ‘How do you rack up $250,000 on an American Express card?’


(15,480 posts)
4. 3-part question on TPP/trade agreements - IGNORED!
Wed Apr 20, 2016, 09:07 AM
Apr 2016

On trade issues and the TPP—how do you respond to—

Zahara Heckscher, a breast cancer patient and writer: “If ratified, the TPP would lock in monopolies for certain new medicines, biological medicines that help people like me stay alive. Monopolies allow drug companies to increase prices dramatically, and high prices decrease access.”

Lori Wallach of Public Citizen: “The aggregate U.S. goods trade deficit with Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners is more than five times as high as before the deals went into effect, while the aggregate trade deficit with non-FTA countries has actually fallen.”

Manuel Pérez-Rocha of the Institute for Policy Studies—who has argued that NAFTA has pushed many Mexicans to migrate to the US since it has become an “engine of poverty in Mexico” since it has gutted family farming in Mexico, as wells as mom and pop stores, and indigenous industry.


(10,597 posts)
6. K&R
Wed Apr 20, 2016, 09:34 AM
Apr 2016

Wow...she is one evil looking woman. Whew! I wouldn't want to meet her in a dimly lit hallway. And PO appointed her? Geez. Sometimes I learn things that I would like to un-learn. Thanks for sharing all that. It really is better to learn rather than bury your head in the sand. Will go watch the video now.


(15,480 posts)
7. Once esteemed Natl. Press Club castrated like the MSM;reduced to stenographers
Wed Apr 20, 2016, 09:35 AM
Apr 2016

Note apparently no follow up question was allowed to have Penny explain how the TPP would
"harmonize labor and environmental standards". I'll give you an example of "harmonizing" environmental standards here in Pennsylvania - it means that local governments can place no limits on fracking sites. Hey, you don't want hundreds of tanker trucks (hauling clean water in and fracking wastewater out) per day and gaseous fumes & deafening sounds across the street from your kid's school, or next to the local hospital? Tough shit!


Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, strongly defending the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, predicted it would be ratified by Congress this year despite criticism from the leading contenders for both the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations. “I think the window [for Congressional ratification] is this year," Pritzker said at a National Press Club luncheon April 18, adding "at the end of the day I think we will do the right thing.” She said support for the 12-nation agreement, signed by the Obama Administration in February, is “much stronger than reported in the press.”

By cutting tariffs and harmonizing labor and environmental standards, the trade pact would expand American exports and increase American jobs, she said. Rejecting the TPP would cost $94 billion in U.S. economic output in one year, she added. To become effective, the agreement must be approved by a majority vote in both houses of Congress.

Since it was announced, the TPP has drawn criticism from Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernard Sanders. The only remaining major party candidate to support it is Republican John Kasich. The critics contend the pact will do little to expand the sale of American products abroad while reducing jobs and worker pay in the U.S. She said the Obama administration is strongly committed to retraining programs to help any workers displaced by imports to get better jobs.

The TPP is the largest regional tariff-cutting agreement ever signed by the U.S. The other countries included are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Together, they account for about 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product.

Pritzker is the only billionaire in the President’s cabinet and was a key fundraiser for Obama in both his Senate and Presidential campaigns. She said that during his administration, the U.S. economy has made major gains since the recession that started in 2007, but said “wage and income inequality” have become important problems. She said wages are above average both in the 11.5 million American jobs that depend on sales outside the nation and for the 5.6 million Americans employed by foreign-owned U.S. firms.


(15,480 posts)
8. Considered newsworthy she's the ONLY Billionaire in O's cabinet!
Wed Apr 20, 2016, 09:37 AM
Apr 2016

So how many of them are lowly multi-millionaires?


(50,983 posts)
30. "Their" claims in favor of the TPP are lies. Just as their claims in favor of past "trade deals".
Thu Apr 21, 2016, 08:21 AM
Apr 2016
The TPP is a measure of democracy (or lack thereof) in the USA. Even though there has been a media blackout on the negative aspects of the TPP it is still overwhelmingly opposed by the people of the United States.

The TPP is a mechanism through which corporations can continue to exert their control over a nation against the will of the citizen consumers.

What does it tell us when TPTB are no longer afraid of going against the wishes of the citizens?

"The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater."

Frank Zappa

AZ Progressive

(3,411 posts)
9. Shhh.... Penny Pritzker is Obama's personal billionaire
Wed Apr 20, 2016, 10:02 AM
Apr 2016

She's known the family since the 90's, and is partly responsible for Obama's success...



(17,301 posts)
10. Pritzker was the money bags behind Obama which is why I voted for Hillary in the primary in 2008.
Wed Apr 20, 2016, 10:09 AM
Apr 2016

Pritzker is a all about free trade. She is behind Obama's pushing the TPP. It's a way for Obama to pay her back for all the money she has given him for his campaigns.

But instead of asking how the uber rich heiress who likes to play politics about how she crashed a bank they asked: “I understand you are a marathon runner. I would like to know, and our audience, I think, would like to know, what is the secret for training for a marathon?”

Do you give a crap about how she trains to run in marathons? She doesn't seem to need to do anything of value (and she probobly doesn't) cause she was born into American royalty.



(1,313 posts)
22. I hope not, but... Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
Wed Apr 20, 2016, 12:00 PM
Apr 2016

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.

Frederick Douglass, “If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress”


(50,983 posts)
31. You nailed it.
Thu Apr 21, 2016, 08:40 AM
Apr 2016

It isn't only an oligarchy it has also become a kleptocracy clearly Machiavellian in nature.

Right leaning voters I speak with in rural Ohio consistently express two of their top concerns. One often repeated concern is how large numbers of illegal aliens are voting in our elections. The other is how millions of lazy drug addicted "layabouts" are draining the system through their use of foodstamps, Social Security and welfare.

Corporate media propaganda has been very effective.

If King George had access to the propaganda mechanism of today there would have been no revolution.


(55,445 posts)
13. uh.. Putin is *still* the story
Wed Apr 20, 2016, 11:15 AM
Apr 2016

at least until some other head of state is caught laundering $2 billion...


(15,480 posts)
18. KPFA - 94.1`Berkely: Pritzker gets the royal treatment
Wed Apr 20, 2016, 11:46 AM
Apr 2016
Today on Flashpoints: Sub-prime queen and current Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, gets the royal treatment at the National Press Club: No negative questions please.

Good station: Founded in 1949 by Lewis Hill, a pacifist, poet, and journalist, KPFA was the first community supported radio station in the USA.


(55,745 posts)
19. The Privilege of the Pritzkers
Wed Apr 20, 2016, 11:50 AM
Apr 2016

An Interview with Tim Anderson on Obama's Commerce Nominee, Penny Pritzker, the Sub-Prime Queen

The Privilege of the Pritzkers

CounterPunch, May 3-5, 2013


TA: $38 billion. One publication listed eight casinos, another listed 13, with each license worth a half a million dollars. There is another $5-7 billion in casinos. When you own 13 casinos for 5-7 billion, you are a player in the casino business. That’s just the hotels and casinos. There are many other companies they own such as the second largest chewing tobacco company, which they sold for 3.5 billion dollars. They actually owned the second and third largest chewing tobacco company, but have since off-loaded those for billions of dollars. Many of their assets are not what society considers clean assets, but hey don’t care. As far as money goes, they want it. When it comes to casinos or chewing tobacco companies, they don’t care. Their wealth is almost incalculable, because according to Forbes magazine, they are the only family in America to have off shore tax-free trusts because they were grandfathered in. Their off shore trust can ship money back to their family tax-free. It was grandfathered in because their grandfather got it through Congress – he was smart to see the future and got it done. Congress closed the loophole and grandfathered him in. Forbesmagazine wrote about the Pritzker’s off shore trust, they emphasized that there are over 1000 separate trusts. Many families have two or three different savings accounts to keep track of what money belongs to who, but when you have over 1000 different trusts to handle the family estate it’s very hard to comprehend how much wealth there is and how many businesses they control. A few years ago, Penny sold TransUnion, the largest credit reporting agency in America, but there’s a question about whether she sold it to herself by selling it to various hedge funds which her family has a large interest in. Until she sold it, you could say that Penny Pritzker had more files on every citizen in America than the CIA and FBI combined, because everybody has a credit score and credit report. Penny Pritzker had the credit scores and report on every single citizen in America.


TA: She had TransUnion while she had Superior Bank, so she controlled the credit scores of everybody who was getting a subprime loan. You pay a higher interest on your subprime loan based on your credit score. Whether or not it was ever brokered between the credit bureau and the bank, we don’t know, but we know the same people control both entities.


TA: Superior Bank was acquired back in 1989 as part of the original savings and loan giveaway by M, D and E Wall. As I wrote a in a paper for an economic conference in Denver, Superior Bank was sold to the Pritzkers for 42.5 million dollars. They changed the name from Lion Savings and Loan to Superior Bank after they acquired it. Lion Savings and Loan was sold to the Pritzkers just to put up money for the capital. But as government reports show, they only put up a million dollars cash and pledged their assets as the difference, the capital. That’s not supposed to be done, but they are privileged people so they get privileged deals. After they acquired this for $1 million they also got $640 million in tax credits.


TA: The tax credits were designed so they could use it in any entity they wanted. They didn’t have to use it on what they bought. It could be sold on the open market for value, the credits could be used to file back taxes or warehouse them for future taxes. So for a million dollars, they got 640 million dollars for agreeing to take over Superior Bank, which they then looted for years then gave it back to the government with an enormous loss to the uninsured depositors and the whole subprime industry.



PS: I don't have anything against rich people, per se. I'd just like to see the offices and powers of the government go toward helping somebody other than the rich. For a change.

PPS: OP from 2013 -- http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=2797134


(55,745 posts)
24. Ms. Pritzker Benefited Big Time from the Bankster Bailout...
Wed Apr 20, 2016, 05:09 PM
Apr 2016

...another one of those interesting connections that the corporate media monopoly don't want us to know. Thank goodness for Greg Palast:

Billionaire Bankster Penny Pritzker
Breaks into Obama's Cabinet

Thursday, May 2, 2013
By Greg Palast


Pritzker's net worth is listed in Forbes as $1.8 billion, which is one hell of a heavy magic wand in the world of politics. Her wand would have been heavier, and her net worth higher, except that in 2001, the federal government fined her and her family $460 million for the predatory, deceitful, racist tactics and practices of Superior, the bank-and-loan-shark operation she ran on the South Side of Chicago.

Superior was the first of the deregulated go-go banks to go bust - at the time, the costliest failure ever. US taxpayers lost nearly half a billion dollars. Superior's depositors lost millions and poor folk in Sen. Obama's South Side district lost their homes.

Penny did not like paying $460 million. No, not one bit. What she needed was someone to give her Hope and Change. She hoped someone would change the banking regulators and the Commerce Department so she could get away with this crap.

Pritzker introduced Obama, the neophyte state senator, to the Ladies Who Lunch (that's really what they call themselves) on Chicago's Gold Coast. Obama got lunch, gold and better - an introduction to Robert Rubin. Rubin is a former Secretary of the Treasury, former chairman of Goldman Sachs and former co-chairman of Citibank. Even atheists recognized Rubin as the Supreme Deity of Wall Street.


Geithner and Summers were the gents who, under Treasury Secretary Rubin, designed the deregulation of banking. In effect, they had decriminalized the kind of financial flim-flammery that brought the planet to its knees while bringing Rubin, Pritzker and the banksters loads of lucre.



Remember the housing crisis all "those" people were getting tossed out of their homes in 2008?

That was Penny.


(10,931 posts)
28. Cough! cough, cough... excuse me......
Wed Apr 20, 2016, 06:45 PM
Apr 2016

that women makes me sick. If there was ever a need for a violent revolution in this country in this day and age it is now. I say strike hard and swift before the police state gets any bigger. There are some greedy, selfish, hateful people at the top in this country that need to have the fear of god put in them. The rest of the world would thank us for it.


(44,118 posts)
29. There are some greedy selfish hateful people at the top in this country and the Dem nomination is
Thu Apr 21, 2016, 06:31 AM
Apr 2016

being handed to one of them....gawd forbid we're allowed someone who would work to get the country out from under these greedy selfish hateful people.....Nope....we're so screwed.

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