Setting the Record Straight

July 11, 2008

McCain, Gramm Tied at the Lip

Filed under: news,policy,politics — straightrecord @ 10:44 am
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Arrogance as Economic Advice

      We preach on this site about being informed about the elections as well as practically everything else one opens one’s mouth about. But we also plea for discernment about what one chooses to rely on, particularly for news, i.e., tabloid-cable.
      On the same day came two “gotcha” quotes that once again sent tabloid-cable off on a screaming frenzy, one from a supporter of Barack Obama, the other from a supporter of John McCain. One we normally would not address, the other is right in our ballpark.
      First, Jesse Jackson’s quote about Obama for “talking down to blacks,” leading him to add he would like “cut his nuts off.” A stupid, but meaningless remark by a hateful and highly overrated man, merely a tabloid-cable “gotcha” moment that has no bearing on the election. The only meaningful part of the episode was his accusation that Obama was talking down to blacks in order to get elected, but that was not addressed by the gotcha-mongers.
      Then came Phil Gramm’s remark that the nation’s response to what he calls a “mental recession” is the response of a bunch of whining Americans, meaning not him, of course, but people who have never earned a 10th of what he makes, the segment of society that has known for weeks we have not only inflation, but stagflation, even though the situation does not yet meet the government definition.
      Gramm’s refusal to retract any of his statement, even though McCain denounced the statements of the man serving as his chief economic adviser and a campaign co-chairman, speaks volumes about the Gramm arrogance. Finally someone convinced him to quit the campaign, but he never recanted and McCain never renounced Gramm’s economic policies. In Congress, one meets a bunch of arrogant people, but Gramm seemed hell-bent-for-leather to be No. 1.
      We crossed paths with Gramm between 1979 and 2002, first when he was a Democrat in the House, then as a Republican in the Senate at a time Republicans were on the ascendancy in the Texas. He quit, of course, when it became obvious Democrats would regain control of the Senate and he would lose his chairmanship of the Banking Committee.
      The party switch says enough about him, but he also reminded us of a guy who walks into a restaurant and presents his name for a reservation as “Dr. Gramm.”   
      Gramm’s doctorate is a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Georgia. Throughout his time in Congress, Gramm treated anybody who did not agree with him as an intellectual inferior and tended to talk down to them. His arrogance was not earned.
      His biggest achievement was to lead legislation effectively deregulating the nation’s financial industry, allowing banks to merge with insurance companies and firms selling securities, collectively today’s “financial services,” the industry credited the subprime mortage crisis that played a large part in putting the nation’s economy in the state we find today. But don’t expect help from any Gramm advice.
      Gramm’s view of the economy is the classic conservative view—the Herbert Hoover view that even in the face of the Great Depression, the government not only could, it should, do nothing; the economy will correct itself. TGforFDR.
      At the other end of the spectrum, Gramm fought hard to deny any welfare for people who find themselves in dire economic straits, no matter the reason for their plight. Essentially, they were not worth considering and a drag on the economy, i.e., the well-to-do.
      By himself, Gramm could be dismissed as just another crackpot, but in fact McCain has long relied on Gramm’s economic advice, including in previous presidential tries. If this is the source of what would become the economic policy of a President McCain, voters need to take a very close look and beware.




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