Former senator and current banker Phil Gramm of Texas — well-connected to big donors but controversial for his role in preventing tighter regulation of Wall Street — told The Huffington Post yesterday that he is endorsing his former student and political protege, Texas Gov. Rick Perry...”I’m for Rick and I will do what I can to help,” Gramm said in an interview in Detroit. “He has been an effective governor. He is a determined guy from a small town who knows how to get things done.”
In 2008, Gramm, who was advising Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign (and was floated as McCain’s choice for Treasury Secretary) gained notoriety for saying that the country was “a nation of whiners” that was only in a “mental recession.”
But Gramm’s legacy goes much deeper than that. In 2001, he tucked the Commodity Futures Modernization Act into an unrelated, 11,000 page appropriations bill. That act ensured that the huge market in over-the-counter derivatives stayed unregulated, laying the groundwork for the 2008 financial crisis (and the implosions of AIG and Lehman Brothers). He also believes there should be no minimum wage and has derided the working poor by saying, “we’re the only nation in the world where all our poor people are fat.”
Perry was a student of Gramm’s at Texas A&M, and when Perry became governor “Gramm and his bank pushed a controversial proposal to allow the company to take out insurance polices on teachers and other workers, even though the workers themselves would not benefit.” If Gramm’s support is any indication, Perry’s zeal for financial deregulation will know no bounds.