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October 16, 2008

Phil Gramm: Wrong On Regulation, Wrong On Presidential Aphorisms

Phil Gramm is extra wrong:

Throughout much of 2000, lobbyists were flying in and out of congressional offices. With Born gone, they saw an opportunity to settle the regulatory issue and perhaps gain even more. They had a sympathetic ear in Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, the influential Republican chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, and a sympathetic bill: the 2000 Commodity Futures Modernization Act.

Gramm opened a June 21 hearing with a call for "regulatory relief." Peering through his wire-rimmed glasses, he drawled: "I think we would do well to remember the Lincoln adage that to ask a society to live under old and outmoded laws -- and I think you could say the same about regulation -- is like asking a man to wear the same clothes he wore when he was a boy."

That was actually not Lincoln, but Thomas Jefferson.

Also: what Jefferson said would be an argument for regulation of new financial instruments, not against it. And of course Jefferson, as part of his fundamentalist agrarianism, despised financiers in general.

But apart from that, Gramm really hit the nail on the head.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at October 16, 2008 06:37 PM

I've always felt that Gavrilo Princip was the guy responsible for most of the negative crap to have occurred in the 20th century.

But Phil, -- he's all 21st century. I was telling my others that this scumbag worked not only on deregulating the banking industry but also energy trading. Recently I've decided he's just too stupid to be the new Princip.

What I'd like to know is whose invisible hand steered him to those dizzying de-regulatory heights.

... to ask a society to live under old and outmoded laws -- and I think you could say the same about regulation ...and I think you could say the same about regulation...

And we could say the same about the constitution including gun control and protection of religiosity.

Posted by: Labiche at October 16, 2008 07:35 PM

Slightly off-topic, but here's a presidential anecdote I had forgotten. From Ron Suskind's "The Price of Loyalty":

[Karen] Hughes... stopped the proceedings. "But there is uncertainty in this economy," she said.... "Real uncertainty that this won't solve."...

Bush stopped in midstride and looked hard at Hughes. He was silent for a moment. "The economic uncertainty is because of SEC overreach," he said pointedly. Directly acroos the table, [Paul] O'Neill couldn't believe what he was hearing--SEC overreach? No wonder the White House had backed off from the toughtst medicine for crooked executives and ceded the corporate governance debate to Congress. How, though, could the President believe the largely overwhelmed SEC had any significant effect on the vast U.S. economy?

As Ari Fleischer said in the same meeting: "Perception lags reality." According to Suskind, it was a common saying in the administration.

Posted by: Carl at October 17, 2008 12:18 AM