Thursday, February 22, 2007

On Phil Gramm

Of late, we have been reading a couple books where the name Phil Gramm keeps appearing. The former United States Senator from Texas once sought the presidential nomination of the Republican Party.

The Irrepressible Rothbard, edited by Llewellyn Rockwell, contains a 1995 commentary (pgs 137-8) by Murray Rothbard where he analyzes Gramm as a presidential candidate:

Gramm is first of all the brightest of the candidates: unlike Gingrich, he is an intelligent academic, having taught economics at the Distinguished Friedmanite economics department of Texas A&M.

Unlike other candidates, when Gramm sells out principle, which he will do often, he knows he is selling out and why, which I guess is a virtue...Since he bends to the political winds...he is the likeliest of all the major candidates to be an opportunist [in favor of free markets and small government, when he

More recently, and from real world dealings, former Citigroup chairman, Sandy Weill, in his autobiography, The Real Deal, writes of his experience with Gramm, whiich seems to backup Rothbard's take:

...Phil Gramm..appeared uninterested in serious reform and never missed a chance to remind me that there were no important banks, brokers or insurance companies domiciled in his state of Texas. In other words, financial services companies were far from his natural constituency...Just as we were about to cross the goal line, one last obstacle arose. Senator Gramm, ever the savvy horse trader, took exception to a provision of the bill which forced banks to invest in poor areas, a long-running political football in Washington. One afternoon he called and threatened, "Call your friend Clinton and get him to change the provision or else I'll fire my rockets and blow your bill apart."...Gramm called again the next day to
repeat his demand, and this time the president and Texas senator found some way to compromise.

On November 12, President Clinton signed into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and in a stroke, modernized the structure of financial services.

On Tuesday of this week in an op-ed piece for WSJ, Gramm endorsed John McCain for president. Wrote Gramm, "He might not be the right president for all times, but he is the right president for these times."

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