Phil Gramm, McCain’s "Economic" Advisor, Speaks

James Pethokoukis interviews Phil Gramm, economic advisor to John McCain.

Here’s Gramm

The interesting thing about the economic debate that we are about to have in America is that nowhere in the world can the two Democrat candidates show an example of countries that have succeeded economically by raising taxes, increasing government spending, and instituting protectionist measures….

Pethokoukis highlighted this, so it seems he thinks Gramm was making a good point. I don’t check in on Pethokoukis often, but that isn’t a surprise that he would think it’s a big deal. It also isn’t a surprise these two would miss an example so close to home.

There are all sorts of gems in this interview, but I don’t have much time right now so let me just reach for the fruit that has actually gone through the effort of taking a bite out of my behind…

Here’s more Gramm:

When [Bill] Clinton took office, the economy was in a boom as the benefits of the Reagan economic program were being fully felt. Today, the economy is weaker, and also our competitors are stronger. One of the points you’ve got to understand is that what was good enough 25 years ago for America to be No. 1 is not good enough now. We want more growth, not less; more jobs, not fewer jobs….

(Highlights by James Pethokoukis.)

How come when GHW Bush was in office, the economy wasn’t fully feeling (felting? feeling up?) the benefits of the Reagan economic program? Why weren’t those bennies there when GHW was in office? As to faster growth, once again I suggest a look here.

Gramm continues…

Senator McCain agrees that we should have more spending on housing, nutrition, education, clothing—the things that American families want. He agrees with the Democrats on that. Where they differ is the question of who should do the spending. The Democrats want government to do the spending. Senator McCain wants families to do the spending.

That’s very nice. Give a janitor a tax cut that amounts to an added $20 in his pocket every month (all the while seeing his real income dropping due to these brilliant policies – I hate to sound like a broken record but Pethokoukis and Gramm really need to look at this) and just watch him increase his spending on housing, nutrition, education, and clothing.

More Gramm…

And let me go back a second. The Democrats like to make a big deal out of how people said that Clinton’s increasing the tax rates was going to produce economic problems, but actually it was the overall economic program of Clinton that they said those things about, including having government take over one eighth of the economy in healthcare and a stimulus package where the government was going to fund pork barrel projects all over the country, from alpine slides in Puerto Rico to ice skating warming huts in Connecticut. But the Democrats conveniently forget that because the Republicans were able to defeat the healthcare program and the stimulus package, the Clinton program as he called for it was not implemented.

So… basically Gramm is now saying that it was the stuff other than tax hikes that would have hurt the economy. Presumably this means Gramm no longer thinks raising tax rates hurts the economy.

Yet more Gramm…

There are a lot of things you can say about the Bush tax cuts, but you can’t say they didn’t work. Those tax cuts clearly were a factor in bringing us out of the 2000 recession at near-record speed.

What is it with these folks on the right and their fascination with the Great Recession of 2000 that Never Was? Have none of them heard of the NBER? Or even teh google? Its one thing to be incapable of performing any sort of analysis, but getting basic facts wrong is another thing altogether. Its a sign one is either completely ignorant or trying to bs one’s audience.

Gramm, toward the end of the interview…

Remember, there are a lot of Americans who have not yet gotten a piece of the pie. Maybe you could limp along in France with the policy of the Democrats and just become more and more irrelevant to world trade and less of a competitor, but in America, where we have a growing population and people who want their shot at the American dream, those policies won’t work….

Americans who haven’t gotten a piece of the pie, eh? But we all know what Gramm would say about policies that actually delivered a piece of the pie to many Americans that hadn’t had one before – he opposed them, and still opposes them, stating as much earlier in the interview.

Then there’s the dig at France, that bunch of limp-wristed beret-wearing frommage-eating pansy foreigners who like mimes. Oh wait, aren’t they the good guys to folks like Gramm again because of Sarkozy? Someone’s several months behind in reading his talking points.

I don’t have time to look up the figures, but I’d guess that “just become more and more irrelevant to world trade and less of a competitor” is a phrase that applies to the US from period from 1980 to 1992, and from 2000 to 2008, but perhaps not from 1992 to 2000.

Update… minor edits for clarity.