Tuesday, June 03, 2008

John McCain's Chief Economic Advisor, Phil Gramm: Out-and-Out Bastard

From the late, great Molly Ivins, a deeply insightful column about one of the worst human beings who has ever sat in Congress--Master Con-Man/Insider/Right-Wing Fanatic Phil Gramm. Excerpts:

Gramm both looks like a snapping turtle and has the personality of one. When he ran for president in 1996 and finished fifth in Iowa, all the profiles written of him included the line "Even his friends don't like him." Self-righteous and strident, Gramm demonized his opponents and used bitter, polarizing rhetoric. During a Senate debate over Social Security, a member pointed out that the proposal under consideration would hurt 80-year-old retirees. "Most people don't have the luxury of living to be 80 years old," Gramm scoffed, "so it's hard for me to feel sorry for them." Well, there is that.

On another occasion, Gramm ridiculed a newspaper photo of poor people who were forced to cut corners to put food on the table. "Did you see the picture?" Gramm asked a crowd. "Here are these people who are skimping to avoid hunger and they are all fat!... We're the only nation in the world where all our poor people are fat." During the fight over health care reform, Gramm said, "We have to blow up this train and the rails and the trestle and kill everyone on board." When an elderly widow in Corsicana told him that cutting Medicare would make it more difficult for her to remain independent, Gramm said, "You haven't thought about a new husband, have you?"

When he first ran for Senate in 1984, Gramm's main attack ad focused on how his opponent, a young state senator, had received a check for $600 raised by a gay group at a male strip joint in San Antonio. He had not solicited the contribution and promptly returned it, but Gramm ran lurid ads about the gay strip show for months.


Gramm, the great crusader against government spending, has spent his entire life on the government tit. He was born at a military hospital, raised on his father's Army pay, went to private school at Georgia Military Academy on military insurance after his father died, paid for his college tuition with same, got a National Defense Fellowship to graduate school, taught at a state-supported school, and made generous use of his Senate expense account. In 1987, a Dallas developer named Jerry Stiles flew a construction crew to Maryland to work on Gramm's summer home. Stiles spent $117,000 on the project but was kind enough to bill Gramm only $63,433. When Stiles got in trouble for misusing funds from a savings and loan he owned, Gramm did him some "routine" favors with regulators. Stiles was later convicted on 11 counts of conspiracy and bribery.

As a member of the Senate Finance Committee and the recipient of enormous banking contributions, Gramm did an even bigger favor for the financial industry in 1999 when he sponsored the Financial Services Modernization Act allowing banks, securities firms, and insurance companies to combine. The bill weakened the Community Reinvestment Act, which requires banks to help meet the credit needs of low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Gramm described community groups that use the CRA as "protection rackets" that extort funds from the poor, powerless banks. The bill is also a disaster for the privacy of bank customers and weakens regulatory supervision. As Gramm proudly declared, "You're not going to find a single bank, insurance company, or securities company that will say they were hurt financially by this bill."

To be fair, Gramm occasionally found it in his heart to assist the poor -- like the time he suggested that mothers on welfare would be better off working for $2.50 an hour. A more typical Gramm vote, though, came on an energy bill that benefited oil and gas companies at the expense of consumers. "There are winners and losers in every economic decision," Gramm said portentously. He was then getting more oil and gas money than any other member of the Senate.

Gramm has been a MAJOR player in the subprime mortgage meltdown that is wreaking so much havoc. One observer has put it well: There isn't a single predatory financial practice that Gramm hasn't supported, worked for, and lobbied for. He is the lowest of the low, a right wing Welfare Queen who basically defecates on the poor while lining his own pocket and the pockets of his rich buddies with government cash. AND THIS IS McCAIN'S CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISOR. One of the architects of our current fiscal insanity is giving advice to the Republican candidate for president.

Want four more years of Bush-style catastrophe? Support McCain. Want a total scumbag like Gramm running our nation's economic policies? Support McCain. Want to turn America toward a more hopeful future? Hell, that's easy:


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for publishing these remarks by Molly Ivins. I'm from Texas and one of the highlights of my week was reading Molly's column which appeared in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Man, do I miss her!

With Phil Gramm once again in the news, I can think of no better comment about his recent activities than that expressed by Molly Ivins in this column. Thanks again.