The Senate will finally confront one of the architects of the subprime mortgage crisis today, hauling a tax-dodging, union-busting, bank-breaking, billionaire member of the “one percent” before the Senate Commerce Committee… to consider her confirmation as Secretary of Commerce in President Barack Obama’s Cabinet.
In the same week that the Senate grilled the CEO of Apple, Inc. about the low taxes it pays due to maintaining large cash deposits overseas, the Senate will roll out a warm welcome to Chicago heiress Penny Pritzker, who runs what Forbes called “one of the grandest and most successful family tax-avoidance schemes ever.”
Instead of being lectured about her patriotism, Pritzker is being praised to the heavens, with fellow Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) claiming that the heiress to the Hyatt hotel fortune “has broken through the glass ceiling with her extraordinary intelligence and business acumen.” The enthusiasm is bipartisan; fellow Illinoisan Mark Kirk is also on board.
Pritzker has a rather dubious record of public service, most recently serving on the board of the Chicago Public Schools, which just yesterday approved plans to close forty-nine failing schools. Her most notable public “contribution” has involved raising and bundling millions of dollars for President Obama’s lavish political campaigns.
Unions dislike Pritzker as well, and at least one has opposed Pritzker’s nomination based on its many battles with the Hyatt hotel chain regarding working conditions and wages. The left grassroots is also visibly irritated by the choice, seeing Pritzker’s nomination to Commerce as the pay-to-play, Chicago cronyism that it is.
But the fix is in. When future generations look back at this moment and wonder how Washington failed to hold Wall Street–or itself–accountable for the subprime crisis, they will understand that Washington never really cared about anything but its own political prerogatives. With the right political friends, you can get away with anything.