Phil Gramm

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William Philip Gramm
U.S. Senator, Texas
Term of office:
January, 1985–December, 2002
Political party: Republican
Preceded by: John Tower
Succeeded by: John Cornyn
Born: July 8, 1942
Fort Benning, Georgia
Spouse: Wendy Lee Gramm

William Philip "Phil" Gramm (born July 8, 1942, in Fort Benning, Georgia) served as a Democratic Congressman (1978-1983), a Republican Congressman (1983-1985) and a Republican Senator from Texas (1985-2002).


[edit] University career

In 1967, he received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Georgia. After earning his Ph.D., Gramm taught economics for 12 years at Texas A&M University (1967-1978). In addition to teaching, Gramm served as a partner in the economic consulting firm Gramm & Associates (1971-1978). Gramm often noted in his political campaigns that he had repeated three grades in school but had overcome his academic deficiencies by hard work.

[edit] Democratic politician

In 1976, Gramm unsuccessfully challenged Texas Democratic Senator Lloyd M. Bentsen, in the party's senatorial primary. Nine years later, Gramm and Bentsen would begin what became an 8-year relationship as senatorial colleagues from Texas. During their Senate tenures, both attempted to run for President, but neither made a serious showing.

In 1978, Gramm successfully ran as a Democrat for Representative from Texas's Sixth Congressional District. He continued his service in the House, being reelected as a Democrat in 1980.

[edit] Republican politician

In 1981, Gramm attended Democratic Caucus budget meetings and then secretly shared their strategy with Republicans to help pass newly inaugurated President Ronald Reagan's budget. In response, the House Democratic leadership stripped him of his seat on the committee. Following this action, Gramm resigned his House seat, forcing a mid-term special election. Gramm ran in that election to fill the vacancy that he had created, but as a Republican. Winning, he became the first Republican to represent the district since its creation. He won re-election to the seat again in 1982, and after he left the House, the seat remained in Republican hands (first under Joe Barton and later John Carter).

In 1984, Gramm was elected as a Republican to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate. He easily defeated liberal Democrat Lloyd Doggett of Austin, later a member of the House from an Austin and an Austin-McAllen apportioned district, for the right to succeed retiring Republican Senator John G. Tower. Gramm polled 3,116,348 votes (58.5 percent) to Doggett's 2,207,557 (41.5 percent) Gramm served on the Senate Budget Committee from 1989 until leaving office in 2003. Gramm and Senators Fritz Hollings and Warren Rudman devised a means of cutting the budget through indiscriminate, across-the-board spending cuts if deficit-reduction targets were not met. They were successful in making the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act law, but portions were ruled unconstitutional and other sections have largely been superseded by other budget-controlling mechanisms. Later in his Senate career, Gramm spearheaded efforts to pass banking reform laws, including the landmark Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999, which modernized Depression-era laws separating banking, insurance and brokerage activities. Between 1995 and 2000 Gramm, who was the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, received $1,000,914 from the Securities & Investment industry[1]

In 1990, Gramm won his second term with an easy victory over Democratic State Senator Hugh Parmer of Fort Worth, even as fellow Republican Clayton Williams was narrowly losing the governorship to Ann Richards.

As a senator, Gramm often called for reductions in taxes and government spending. He employed his "Dickie Flatt Test" to determine if federal programs were worthwhile (Dickie Flatt was a printer in Mexia, Texas, and a longtime Gramm supporter). In Gramm's eyes, Flatt embodied the travails that a typical Texas independent small businessman faced in the realm of taxation and government spending.

Gramm ran unsuccessfully for the Republican Party nomination in the 1996 presidential election. Although he began the race with a full warchest, it is generally agreed that Gramm ran a poor campaign in the Republican primary. He writhdrew from the contest on the Sunday before the New Hampshire primary to support senatorial colleague Robert J. Dole of Kansas. Gramm, a proponent of free trade, also lashed out at temporary Republican frontrunner Patrick J. Buchanan, whom he mocked in derision as a "protectionist."

After exiting the presidential race, Gramm defeated school teacher Victor Morales of Dallas in November 1996 to win his third and final term in the Senate. Morales ran a low-budget campaign in an effort to make contact with the Democratic grass roots. Gramm left his Senate seat a few weeks before the expiration of his term in December 2002 so that his successor, fellow Republican John Cornyn, could gain seniority over other newly-elected senators.

[edit] Post-Senate career

Although there were rumors that Gramm was being considered to be Treasury Secretary in George W. Bush's second term, he was not offered the position. He was also thought to have been in the running for the presidency of Texas A&M University, but the position went to former Central Intelligence Agency Director Robert Gates instead. Gramm is a vice-chairman of UBS Investment Bank. However in light of the November 8, 2006 nomination of Dr. Gates to the position of Secretary of Defense, Gramm is rumored to be the most likely candidate for the office of President of Texas A&M University.

[edit] Personal

He grew up in Columbus, Georgia. Phil Gramm is married to Dr. Wendy Lee Gramm, a native of Hawaii, who is associated with George Mason University's Mercatus Center in Virginia. They are the parents of two grown sons, one of whom, Marshall, is a professor of economics at Rhodes College. Gramm was one of several politicians who had cameo appearances in the movie Gods and Generals. He played a Virginia delegate in the scene where Lee accepts his role as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. <ref> Full Cast and Crew for Gods and Generas (2003)</ref>

[edit] Quotes

  • "Most people don't have the luxury of living to be 80 years old, so it's hard for me to feel sorry for them." <ref>[2]</ref> -- In response to a claim that a Social Security proposal would hurt people over 80.
  • "Has anyone ever noticed that we live in the only country in the world where all the poor people are fat?" --During his first Senate Campaign against Democrat Lloyd Doggett. <ref>[3]</ref>
  • "We're going to keep on building the party (the Texas GOP) until we're hunting Democrats with dogs." - As quoted in Mother Jones, August 1995
  • "If you are willing to tackle the tough issues, you don’t need to worry about stepping on anyone’s toes; they will stand aside and shove you to the front.” - As quoted by former Gramm staffer Wayne A. Abernathy<ref>[4]</ref> September 12, 2002, before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.<ref>[5]</ref>
  • "I have more guns than I need, and fewer guns than I want." - often part of his stump speech in the mid 1990s <ref>[6]</ref>

[edit] References


[edit] External links

Preceded by:
Olin E. Teague
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by:
Joe Barton
Preceded by:
John G. Tower
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Texas
Succeeded by:
John Cornyn

Phil Gramm

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