Tags: Phil | Gramm: | Courage | and | Conviction

Phil Gramm: Courage and Conviction

Thursday, 06 September 2001 12:00 AM

Perhaps more than any other Member of Congress in the past 20 years, Gramm has been the most effective Representative – and then Senator – when it comes to

Beginning with the Reagan Revolution – back in 1981 when the House was run by Tip O'Neill's old liberal cronies who were dead-set on stymying Reagan's reforms – it was Phil Gramm, then a Democrat, who had the courage to stand up to his party leadership and lead a group of conservative-minded Democrats to support Reagan.

This, of course, led to hard feelings and Gramm's ostracism from the Democratic leadership. It was during this time that Congressman Gramm walked up to me on the House floor and imparted an invaluable observation to me. The budget was being debated and Tip O'Neill was steering some lucrative military spending to his state and to his district while younger liberals like Connecticut's Toby Moffet were fighting the increases. Gramm smiled and said, "That's the difference between the

Gramm, as usual, was right.

Then, in 1983, Gramm performed one of the most honorable acts in American political history. Fed up with Tip O'Neill and the leftists who ran his party, he wanted to switch and become a Republican. But feeling that the voters in his district had elected him as a Democrat just a few months earlier, Gramm decided the

Sure enough, he won overwhelmingly – thus showing that he respected his constituents and wanted to be straight with them.

That special election launched Gramm's new career as a hugely influential Republican. His Gramm-Rudman Budget Bill changed the way our federal budget works.

Then it was off to the U.S. Senate, where he repeatedly harnessed that body's quirky rules to help promote conservative fiscal policy.

The fact that we went from huge deficits to huge surpluses is a testament to Gramm's obsessive allegiance to his conservative economic teachings.

And the election of G.W. Bush to the Governor's Mansion in Austin was also in part due to the trailblazing of Gramm. Hard as it is to remember, 15-20 years ago Texas was

Gramm's decision not to run for re-election may mean he does not think the GOP can recapture the Senate in 2002. (Most senators, once they have been in the majority and chaired a committee, hate going back into minority status.)

Most political insiders believe that 2002 is going to be a tough year for the GOP in the Senate simply because more Republican seats are up for re-election than Democratic seats.

A deteriorating economy can only compound this prediction.

Jesse Helms and Gramm have now announced their retirements. We await word from a so-far-undecided Fred Thompson in Tennessee. Even though all three states are Republican, the Democrats like the fact that the GOP will now have to raise and spend more money to elect newcomers in those states – thus diluting the money available for the other 20 GOP seats up for re-election.

Who knows what will happen in a year? No one. But one thing is certain: It is unlikely that the GOP will have another 'true believer' like Phil Gramm, a man of total conviction and courage.

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Perhaps more than any other Member of Congress in the past 20 years, Gramm has been the most effective Representative – and then Senator - when it comes to Beginning with the Reagan Revolution - back in 1981 when the House was run by Tip O'Neill's old liberal...
Phil,Gramm:,Courage,and,Conviction
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2001-00-06
Thursday, 06 September 2001 12:00 AM
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