July 19, 2008

Bye, Bye Phil

Yesterday, Phil Gramm, formerly the waterboy of Wall Street in the Senate, and now the vice-chairman of a Swiss bank, resigned his role as an economic adviser to John McCain.  Gramm, of course, became notorious for describing the current economic downturn as a “mental recession” and for denouncing those worried about the state of the economy as “whiners.”  (Of course, it’s easy to view worries about the economy as “whining” from the commanding heights of a Swiss bank).  But his other comments in that interview were equally troublesome.  In addition to claiming that “we have benefited greatly” from globalization and advocating more immigration on the grounds that “The American story is a story of immigration,” Gramm said, with a straight face, “We’ve never been more dominant; we’ve never had more natural advantages than we have today.”

Apparently, Gramm regards stagnant incomes, massive trade and fiscal deficits, and an unprecedented dependence on foreigners as signs of strength.  Then again, the type of deregulation of the financial sector that Gramm advocated in the Senate helped lead to the Enron debacle and the current financial crisis.  America faces serious economic problems, and McCain has little chance of being elected unless he convinces voters that he appreciates that fact and knows what needs to be done.  A campaign that echoed Phil Gramm’s view of the world would have zero chance of winning.

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