The Right View: In Pingree's case, it takes a fat cat to know one

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I’m glad to see the Washington Examiner is at least taking an interest in the hypocrisy of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine.

If there ever was proof of the idiotic notion that Democrats are “for the little guy,” and against Wall Street, big (BIG) money, power and insider deals, this is it.

In a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in May 2010, Pingree stated her support for HR 4213, which she was proud to say “cracks down on tax loopholes that allow hedge fund managers to avoid paying income tax on much of their salaries, and makes sure that multinational corporations don’t avoid paying taxes by shifting their profits to offshore tax havens. Closing tax loopholes generates billions of dollars to pay for the provisions that create jobs in our communities.”

HR 4213 was the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010, as initially introduced by U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York. As a relevant aside, Rangel has been the focus of two scandals, one where he was censured by the House of Representatives in 2010, citing tax evasion on a rental unit he owned in the Dominican Republic, and campaign finance law breaches. Prior to his censure, Rangel chaired the House Ways and Means Committee, which writes tax policy.

In 2008, Rangel, along with then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, and more than 25 other Democratic candidates, was named in a probe by the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald C. Machen Jr., as having received part of $42 million over several election cycles in illegal campaign contributions from Washington, D.C., businessman Jeffrey Thompson.

HR 4213 went on to be amended more than 200 time and have several different titles as it made its way through Congress. I find the hilarity of one iteration of the bill’s title, the “American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010,” almost too much to bear in light of Pingree’s comments in the House of Representatives.

Her public outcry against hedge fund managers, the wealthy elite flying around in private jets, and tax loopholes for the rich is a scathing indictment of her own life.

The recent Washington Examiner article noted an investigation by the Sunlight Foundation outlining in detail Pingree’s entanglements since her marriage to billionaire hedge fund manger Donald Sussman. Having come from the president and CEO post at Common Cause, an organization that is a self-proclaimed watchdog against corruption and abuse of power, prior to running for Congress and later marrying Sussman, Pingree claimed to be the champion of the little guy, and railed against money and power in politics.

However, Pingree and Sussman epitomize both. According to both the Examiner and Sunlight Foundation pieces, Pingree and Sussman took a 2009 trip to the Virgin Islands with U.S. Rep. Barney Frank and his partner, while Frank chaired the House Financial Services Committee, which dealt with regulations of the hedge fund financial sector; Sussman’s company, Paloma Securities, received over $200 million in federal taxpayer bailout money during the 2008 financial crisis, and another of his companies, Trust Asset Management, enjoyed tax sheltering in St. Thomas as recently as 2012.

I am so tired of the notion that liberals and Democrats are “for the people” and have no stain of monetary corruption. I have news for some of you “people” out there to whom they are referring: They don’t give a rat’s behind about you. Ultimately, they are for themselves and their own power. They are using you for their own gain and benefit, again and again.

So the next time you hear a liberal railing against Wall Street, be sure to look under the hood, or perhaps directly at them. They are so used to getting away with this line that apparently they don’t even see the need to hide their own indulgences with and connections to the fat cats.

Julie McDonald-Smith lives in North Yarmouth. She is a registered nurse, former Capitol Hill staffer, development chairwoman of the Cumberland County Republican Committee, and occasional guest host on WGAN 560AM. Her column appears every other week.

  • Kevin McCarthy

    So politicians are hypocrites. Wow. Who knew? Chellie Pingree deserves to be called out just as any other elected representative. Your condemnation of her should apply just as easily against every single one of the Republican presidential candidates (Trump is Exhibit A) and a host of Republican officials. I suspect we won’t be seeing a column like that. Instead, Pingree’s story becomes a platform for railing against the left.

    Why not avoid the histrionics and the gross generalizations (as well as your continuing over-reliance on conservative media sources)?

    A year ago, you wrote a column entitled “What the Press won’t tell you about Paul LePage.” In it you encouraged Mainers “to look at the governor’s record of actions, and his vision for moving Maine forward.” You warned that “[y]ou will most likely have to seek the information on your own. You certainly won’t have it presented to you in an objective manner from the coveted Fourth Estate.”

    So I have a suggestion: write a column that assesses the Governor’s record and actions. You could quantify in dollars how his administration has benefited or cost the State. As a member of the Fourth Estate, it would seem not unreasonable to expect that you might be able to do this objectively and comprehensively. I agree with you that the “Press won’t tell” us. Maybe you can.

    • Pinetree North

      Go visit the closest hospital, which is still open and staffed because unlike Baldacci and King, Governor LePage actually paid off the decade-old state Medicaid bills.

      • Amy Fried

        That’s nonsense. The hospitals were being paid back under an agreement previously negotiated. They are now facing problems because the governor blocked Medicaid expansion. States that expanded Medicaid have hospitals that are doing much better.

      • Kevin McCarthy

        For all the complaints about the “liberal mainstream media,” your comment typifies their failures. LePage did not “pay off” old bills. He snookered voters like you. There was a program in place before he came into office to do that. He elected to expedite the pay back with no conditions so that he could allow people like you to believe he was doing a good thing. Meantime, hospital administrators got fat and happy and kept their ridiculously overpaid jobs. All he did was borrow money from somewhere else and left the hospitals with a bigger problem by not accepting the Medicaid funds available under the ACA.

  • Amy Fried

    The whole tone of this piece is absurd. In reality, candidates and elected officials from both parties want to make the country better. They happen to disagree about how to do that and what making things better looks like.

    And then there’s the raw partisanship in the statement that Democrats “don’t give a rat’s behind about you.” In fact, Democrats are responsible for the core programs that have vastly improved people’s lives, including the very popular Social Security and Medicare, and have been champions for preserving those, even as Republicans have sought to privatize them.

    It’s also well known that Rep. Frank and Rep. Pingree are friends. Friends sometimes travel together. There’s nothing hypocritical about doing that. Also, using legal tax breaks while favoring that they disappear for everyone is not hypocritical. It would be hypocritical to say one wanted to end breaks and then voting for ones that benefit oneself, or to say one doesn’t like subsidies and then voting for ones that benefit oneself.

    • Lucy Ball

      You left out “core programs” that have encouraged generational dependence on government handouts….to keeps buying votes for Democrats.

    • Brac

      Nothing “improves life” like a hand-out! (stolen from your neighbors hard earned paycheck)

      • EABeem

        Quoting Donald Trump again.

        • Brac

          “Quoting Donald Trump again.” -EABeem Never have but if I did this is what quoting looks like.

      • justanotherfakename

        Be sure to refuse your social security checks and forgo your medicare when your time comes.

    • Pinetree North

      Yeah, sure, Amy. And if this had been Collins or Snowe or Poliquin breaking the campaign rules, hobnobbing in mansions on tropical islands with their colleagues and taking money from their rich buddies, and buying newspapers for their elected spouses, you’d be the first one crying “foul.” You aren’t fooling anybody.

      • Amy Fried

        It doesn’t make sense to judge candidates or politicians based on their wealth. FDR was the greatest president in the 20th century, perhaps in the nation’s history and he was quite wealthy. The issue is whose side are they on.

  • dissapointed

    I find it fascinating that the first half of this article is talking about HR 4213 as if Pingree’s support of it was somehow damning, and then fails to follow through with any rational or factual conclusion and instead quickly drops mention of the bill before turning to unconnected personal attacks.

    This is just bad reporting. If you’re going to set up an argument, please follow it through.

    • JHinck

      I think her point was that Rep. Charles Rangel aloso supported the bill and he had two unrelated scandals. Don’y you get it now?

      • Amy Fried

        What a silly argument.

  • justanotherfakename

    The juxtaposition of this Julie McDonald-Smith piece with the Steve Woods article is interesting. Woods sees the analogy of modern day free agency in pro sports, and big money rules in both political parties, Julie misses the big picture, that both parties are corrupted by big money in politics. She always sees the Repubs wearing white hats, and Dems the black hats. It must be convenient to be so deluded. One of many points that Julie is totally incorrect on, and she has plenty of company, is that she apparently believes all liberals are corrupted by Wall Street. Please take a look at the honest man, Bernie Sanders, yes a socialist, never a money grubber like so many of the Oligarchy enabling Dems and Repubs. They all learned how to play the dirty money bribery game from the Repub team behind Ronald Reagan, Phil Gram an his Wall Street mad-money-honey of a wife, Wendy. For a Repub to act self righteous about dirty Wall Street money in politics is beyond funny, its pathetic.

  • DanMaine

    Julie’s point is that Chellie Pingree is a hypocrite. That is an undeniable fact. I’ve met Chellie and attempted to discuss issues with her. Chellie told me that we wouldn’t want ANY bill that she wrote, she didn’t understand the issues well enough, that she used “experts” for that. She is an empty suit with big money backing her in Donald Sussman. She is so deeply involved in the corrupt, big money crony capitalism that is Washington DC that she has absolutely nothing in common with the majority of her constituents.

    I agree with many of the Liberals below stating the the Republicans are no better. They are also corrupt, most of the population either votes for the least offensive or has given up and doesn’t vote at all.