The House Budget Committee — which is led by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) — is holding a hearing today titled “The Broken Budget Process: Perspectives From Budget Experts.” The lead witness at the hearing is former Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX).
For those who don’t remember, Gramm gained notoriety in 2008 when he, as an adviser to Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign, said America was only in a “mental recession.” “We have sort of become a nation of whiners,” he said. “You just hear this constant whining.”
That “mental recession,” of course, has cost 14 million Americans their jobs.
But Gramm has made far worse contributions to the nation’s economy. In 2000, he snuck 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 then left Congress for a posh job with mega-bank UBS (where a rogue trader just lost more than $2 billion).
On budget-related matters, Gramm “lent his name and energy to passage of the first Reagan budget in 1981, whose sweeping tax cuts failed to prevent recession — and eventually required a long series of tax increases, beginning in 1982, to stanch the enormous deficits they created.” Gramm’s also believes that 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.”
This is not the first time that the House GOP has sought Gramm’s input on budget matters. And with the nation facing a jobs crisis and a structural deficit that needs to be brought down over the next several years, sage budget advice would indeed be useful for Congress. Instead, the House GOP has turned to a man who played an outsized role in blowing up the federal deficit before he turned his efforts to blowing up the global economy.