Phil Gramm: Hippie

Today Rep. Barney Frank, (D. MA), released a proposal calling for $1 trillion in defense cuts over ten years, which would indeed seem sensible in our current debt situation, given that “defense,” NOT including the various and sundry wars, now gobbles 40% of the Federal Budget.  Of course, such a pot and patchouli-scented pipe dream will undoubtedly go over like a fart in church here in Garrison America; the only things we seem to produce here anymore are either lethal weapons or credit default swaps, which I’m always mixing up anyway.  We can let Grandma eat cat food, children sit 40 to a room at school, and our freeways collapse, but danged if we’re going to give up any of our 700-odd military bases or our billion-dollar bombers.  Priorities, Baby.

Ironically enough, Frank alludes in his proposal that the much-touted “bipartisan” deficit commission convening right now might be just the vehicle to advance this absurdly unlikely goal, since he realizes that everyone in congress now has at least a bolt or a $600 toilet seat for the military manufactured in his district, and all are thus too glaringly compromised to risk being expensively painted as not just a traitor but worse, a job-killer, by taking as much as a dime from our ravenous military.  In the twisted logic of 21st century America, we gladly pay to open schools in Afghanistan by closing our own, because such an astonishingly stupid allocation of scarce resources  supposedly “keeps us safe.”  (From what?  Educated citizens?  Hmmm.)

Ever since George H.W. Bush uttered so disingenuously the words, “more will than wallet,”  we have been continuously taught as Americans that our tax money is needed for all kinds of military “necessities,”  the “benefits” of which we will never see or appreciate, and if we don’t like it we can, well, lump it.  The guns vs. butter argument has been inexorably settled, and margarine won, thanks in part to relentless GOP efforts to bankrupt the government by playing “Battleship,” always unsuccessfully, but nonetheless producing just the sort of whopping deficits and attendant austerity in which we are once again mired.

I’m feeling a bit nostalgic for ol’ Phil Gramm…  it’s probably the booze.

Back in the 80′s, when Reagan’s tax cuts for the rich and wildly profligate military spending had produced, (surprise!) staggering deficits, congress used a similar trick to avoid accountability for unpopular spending cuts and tax increases by passing a law called Gramm-Rudman, which dictated automatic spending cuts for unbalanced budgets across the board, divided equally between defense and domestic spending.  Think about that.  Back in the days of Morning in America, it was politically permissible, even for conservatives like Gramm and Rudman, to accept that painful spending cuts had to be split evenly between the two equally lofty goals of killing more Habibs/Commies/What have you, and killing fewer Americans.   That Phil Gramm, in 2010, would be treated like Code Pink in the media today for such heresy, and since he also distinguished himself by championing the banking and utility deregulation that has impoverished millions worldwide, he has wisely avoided the limelight as he lives out his golden years on heaps of Enron and Wall Street cash.  How fortuitous.

In those “quaint” days when Gramm-Rudman became law of the land, I was horrified at its cynicism, designed to allow our purported “representatives” to toss up their hands as they screwed their constituents, but if such a thing were to be proposed today, it would actually be an improvement over the status quo; most of the real cuts in Frank’s proposal are predicated on the unlikely-to-ludicrous scenario that our current wars will be “wound down,” whereas the proposed cuts on the domestic side are real and immediate.   That hippie Gramm lived under no such double standard, perhaps still remembering that other hippie, Eisenhower, who warned of the dangers of the Military-Industrial Complex and had not yet abandoned the arithmetic skills necessary to equate bombers and schools, and their necessary relationship to each other.

Compared to today, it turns out that the 50′s and the 80′s were practically the Age of Aquarius.  Who’d a thunk?


  1. dirigo says:

    I guess this is in OT land, but, I’m wondering why Lady Gaga went to a New York Mets game the other night and made a fool of herself, when she was raised going to Yankee games.

    She was irked, as I understand it, because she sat behind home plate in one of her Alejandro outfits and was ogled and oogled by paparazzi. So she gave them the finger and left after a while. Didn’t stay for the double-header, according to reports.

    I wonder what retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter might think of this. Probably not much, and probably not much about Phil Gramm either.

  2. cocktailhag says:

    I read that Souter speech, and I wondered as always why he didn’t speak up more from the bench…. Haven’t read much about Lady Gaga, and I confess I’m not entirely sure what it is she does ordinarily in the first place, besides dress like a hooker. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…)
    I get bored at baseball games, too. The uniforms aren’t revealing enough.

  3. mikeinportc says:

    $1T, over 10 yrs? LOL! So the Pentagon* budget will only be ~ $600+B/yr? How will we prevent the Islamo-socialist invasion of East Gooberville on that pittance?

    *Not to mention everbody else, plus all the indirect costs. If we cut ~$1T/yr , maybe we’d accomplish something.

    “Haven’t read much about Lady Gaga”

    Me either, but unfortunately, I have to admit to recognizing the name. :D

    • cocktailhag says:

      You America Hater, you… The goal is to kill those habibs with pallets of cash, like a boulder dropping on Wile E. Coyote’s head.
      Evidently, ol’ Dirigo likes those tarty blondes; I hear that isn’t so unusual.

  4. michlib says:

    Whenever I read or hear the name Phil Gramm I shudder with relief that Gramps McInsane wasn’t elected – because in addition to his lulu of a VP, this economically challenged shill was in line to be the Sec Treasury, or horrors, Fed Chief. Phil Gramm – the walking economic disaster zone.