Ralph welcomes Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, Gretchen Morgenson, co-author of “These Are the Plunderers: How Private Equity Runs – And Wrecks – America,” where they name names in this “heads we win, tails you lose” system of predatory capitalism.
Gretchen Morgenson is the senior financial reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit. A former stockbroker, she won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for her “trenchant and incisive” reporting on Wall Street. Previously at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal,” she and coauthor Joshua Rosner wrote the bestseller Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon about the mortgage crisis. Their latest book is These Are the Plunderers: How Private Equity Runs—and Wrecks—America.
The way corporate criminals get their way is by trying to make things too complex and too abstract for your daily lives. But when Gretchen [Morgenson] talks about these plunderers, and let’s call them “predatory capitalists”, don’t think that you’re not being affected— whether your loved ones are patients in nursing homes, whether you’re workers being laid off, whether you’re consumers being gouged for drug or healthcare prices, whether your community’s going to be hollowed out because the company that was doing okay was taken over by these vultures and closed down after they extracted the wealth.
It’s interesting now that David Rubenstein is retired [from the Carlyle Group], he’s a philanthropist. This is what these wealthy people do once they’ve finished their careers and made so much money. They become philanthropists… We’ve all read about David Rubenstein and Steve Schwarzman and Leon Black and Henry Kravis. We read about them constantly. They are always lauded for their brilliance and their billionaire status. What we just don’t hear about are the people on the other side of their transactions.
Gretchen Morgenson, co-author of “These Are The Plunderers.”
The disappointing thing about the Justice Department is that when they bring these cases against the companies that are doing Medicare fraud (like in the Manor Care situation), they don’t move up the corporate ladder to the owner of the company. The Justice Department does the work on the particular company that is owned by private equity, but they don’t go up the ladder. And that has a way of allowing the firms—like Carlyle in the Manor Care case— to escape scrutiny and to escape accountability. So that would be an ideal thing to change.
Gretchen Morgenson co-author of “These Are The Plunderers.”
In Case You Haven’t Heard
1. Amid the debt limit fight, progressives are calling for President Biden to invoke the 14th amendment, which they believe would allow Biden to bypass the Republican House and raise the debt limit without concessions like adding further work requirements to public benefits. In a press conference by the Senate progressives, John Fetterman of Pennsylvania said "This is the whole reason why the 14th Amendment exists, & we need to be prepared to use it. And, if our unelected Supreme Court Justices try to block the use of the 14th amendment and blow up our economy, that’s on them.” However, POLITICO reports that the administration is privately telling progressives to stand down. Instead, the White House seems more interested in negotiating with Speaker McCarthy, even if that means caving to outrageous Republican demands.
2. As the Writers Guild strike grinds on – at a cost of $30 million per day according to Deadline – the Screen Actors Guild is now on the verge of their own strike. Last week, SAG-AFTRA’s National Board voted unanimously to ask members for strike authorization, and the Daily Beast reported that SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher urged members to “make three a charm with an emphatic ‘yes’ for a strike authorization vote!” adding that to do so would be “an unprecedented show of solidarity.” An actor’s strike against the studios has not happened since 1980.
3. Last week, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced the Healthy Families Act of 2023, which would guarantee 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. This bill features a companion in the House, led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, and carries the support of 122 members of the House and Senate. Sanders is quoted saying “It is time to end this absurdity...It is time Congress passed this legislation to ensure workers receive the basic dignity and benefits that they deserve.” The introduction of this legislation comes on the heels of the reintroduction of a Medicare for All bill in this Congress.
4. A damning new report in the Wall Street Journal indicates that “Jeffrey Epstein discovered that Bill Gates had an affair with a Russian bridge player” and later used this knowledge to attempt to threaten the Microsoft co-founder. The report goes on to say that “at the time, Epstein was trying to set up a multibillion-dollar charitable fund with JPMorgan...[which] hinged on securing support from Gates.” When this money was not forthcoming, Epstein resorted to blackmail. This gives the public our clearest idea yet as to the nuts and bolts of the Epstein criminal enterprise.
5. POLITICO is reporting on a rumor concerning Senator Dianne Feinstein, Representative Adam Schiff, and the Pelosi family. The former Speaker herself has endorsed Schiff in the upcoming California Senate primary and has long groomed him as a political protege. He currently holds a $15 million advantage over his nearest opponent. Yet, if Feinstein – who has appeared deeply addled in recent public appearances – were to resign, Governor Newsom would have the opportunity to appoint a Senator to the vacant seat, and has pledged to appoint a Black woman. Rep. Barbara Lee, a progressive Black congresswoman representing the Bay Area, is among the candidates to replace Feinstein, and would therefore have a strong chance of being appointed. Per the report, Nancy Corinne Prowda, Pelosi’s eldest child, is a top aide to Senator Feinstien, and a “Pelosi family confidant” insinuated that she is angling to keep Feinstein in her seat, not for the benefit of Californians, but for the benefit of Adam Schiff.
6. The LA Times reports that “Nearly three dozen deputies have been ordered to come in for questioning, show their tattoos and give up the names of any other deputies similarly sporting ink connecting them to…the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s…deputy gangs.” This demand came in a letter from county Inspector General Max Huntsman to 35 deputies suspected of being members of either the Executioners or the Banditos, two of the most notorious among these police gangs. Huntsman is quoted saying “The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department conducted incomplete internal affairs investigations into the Banditos and Executioners, failing to identify all members…California’s new gang law addresses discrimination based on race and gender and gives inspectors general enhanced authority to collect evidence. We’re using that authority to complete the investigations by directing deputies to show their tattoos and tell us who else has them.”
7. The Sierra Club is currently in the midst of a labor battle. The New Republic reports that, in an attempt to resolve their budget shortfall, the group has announced “massive layoffs,” the scale of which still remains unclear. This announcement set off a “fractious battle” between the top leadership and the Progressive Workers Union, which has two bargaining units representing nearly 400 Sierra Club employees around the country. Thus far union has filed two unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board; the first “accuses the Club of failing to provide necessary information for bargaining,” and another alleging that “management is violating its collective bargaining agreement and is bargaining in bad faith.”
8. Democracy Now! reports that conservative, US-backed Ecuadoran president Guillermo Lasso has “dissolved the opposition-led National Assembly in a move widely seen as an effort to block efforts to impeach him.” Lasso dissolved the assembly as it held its first hearing on corruption and embezzlement allegations against Lasso. Lasso invoked a never-before-used constitutional power allowing him to “rule by decree” until new elections are held.
9. In an almost unbelievable story, Live Science is reporting that Orcas have “sunk 3 boats in Europe and appear to be teaching others to do the same.” The piece goes on to say that scientists believe the attacks are coordinated, and began following an orca experiencing a "critical moment of agony." Further, they believe “the behavior is spreading among the population through social learning.” This is a stark reminder that we as a species impact our environment and that, sometimes, there are consequences.