Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Man Behind the Curtain

Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for President, has cultivated and carefully guarded a perception that he is a straight-talking maverick, who is not beholden to party or the special interests. But like the Wizard of Oz, all of the flashing lights and startling noises, are just a cover for the man behind the curtain. And just like the Wizard, McCain does not want you to look behind the curtain.

Just take a look at his campaign chairman/economic advisor: former Senator Phil Gramm
, an unapologetic shill for corporate interests. Let's examine Gramm's record.

Back in the '80s, Gramm smiled upon the abrupt deregulation of the savings-and-loan industry, described by his idol Ronald Reagan as America's opportunity to "hit the jackpot" of growth. He used his political clout to protect the Texas operators whose crooked machinations eventually helped to bankrupt the S&L industry. In fact, the S&L debacle cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

Meanwhile, Gramm had 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. At the same time he coauthored the Gramm-Rudman Act, which supposedly placed sharp constraints on federal spending but in reality had little impact.


But Gramm was not the kind of economist whose convictions are shaken by evidence, no matter how compelling. So obsessed with protecting bankers from government oversight was he that when Clinton tried to place stronger controls on terrorist money laundering, Gramm opposed even that measure as a "totalitarian" incursion.

Before he retired from the Senate in 2002, he wrote the Gramm-Bliley bill, an act broadly deregulating the financial industry -- and now blamed by many economists for the epidemic of speculation and fraud that has shaken the global economy. [emphasis mine]

They say the measure of a man is the company he keeps. With advisors like Gramm, can you afford to have John McCain in the White House?


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