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Gramm tells truth, McCain denounces him

Posted by Richard on July 10, 2008

Former Sen. Phil Gramm, McCain's top economic advisor, has more understanding of economics in his little finger than John McCain and Barack Obama have in both their gigantic egos combined. Yesterday, Gramm provided some much-needed perspective on the state of the economy and people's attitudes about it:

"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession," he said, noting that growth has held up at about 1 percent despite all the publicity over losing jobs to India, China, illegal immigration, housing and credit problems and record oil prices. "We may have a recession; we haven't had one yet."

"We have sort of become a nation of whiners," he said. "You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline" despite a major export boom that is the primary reason that growth continues in the economy, he said.

"We've never been more dominant; we've never had more natural advantages than we have today," he said. "We have benefited greatly" from the globalization of the economy in the last 30 years.

Mr. Gramm said the constant drubbing of the media on the economy's problems is one reason people have lost confidence. Various surveys show that consumer confidence has fallen precipitously this year to the lowest levels in two to three decades, with most analysts attributing that to record high gasoline prices over $4 a gallon and big drops in the value of homes, which are consumers' biggest assets.

"Misery sells newspapers," Mr. Gramm said. "Thank God the economy is not as bad as you read in the newspaper every day."

Gramm went on to sketch out the McCain economic plan (Gramm undoubtedly had a major hand in crafting it), which has some pretty good stuff in it:

Mr. McCain's economic program will seek to enliven growth by enabling taxpayers to opt into a new, simplified tax system with two low rates of 10 percent and 25 percent and no itemized deductions, he said.

Mr. McCain would tackle intransigent budget deficits by wrestling down burgeoning benefits programs and aggressively attacking wasteful spending whether it's in the Pentagon's procurement and weapons budget or congressional pork-barrel bills, he said.

Mr. Gramm said a bipartisan deal might include raising the retirement age to 70 over 30 years, indexing the benefits of wealthier retirees to inflation rather than the more generous wage rate, and creating a private account program for younger workers.

Mr. McCain, a Republican with a proven record of voting for spending cuts, will renew efforts to balance the budget through spending reforms, he said. "It will be popular with the public but hated in Washington."

Mr. McCain also will pursue immigration reforms that would start with effective border enforcement but include a possible doubling of legal immigration, including no limits on scientific and technical workers and a generous sized guest worker program, he said.

Barack Obama quickly ridiculed Gramm's remarks, defended the whiners, rejected the McCain economic plan, and embraced the failed policies of the past:

“It isn’t whining to ask government to step in and give families some relief.”

So, McCain recognized this as a great opportunity to separate himself from the bitterness, resentment, and pessimism that have become the trademark of the left and to embrace the optimism and "can-do" attitude that naturally appeals to most Americans — right?

Umm, no. He scrambled to ally himself with the whiners and distance himself from Gramm:

Minutes later McCain disavowed the Gramm comments, saying, “We are experiencing enormous economic challenges as well as others. Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me. So I strongly disagree.”

Asked if Gramm might be in line for a job as treasury secretary, McCain joked: “I think Senator Gramm would be in serious consideration for ambassador to Belarus, although I am not sure that the citizens of Minsk would welcome that.”

I'm not amused. McCain is behaving like Obama would after Jesse Jackson had his way with him. 

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