July 10th, 2008
10:00 AM ET
15 years ago

McCain adviser: Nation suffering from a 'mental recession'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/10/art.phill.gi.jpg caption="Gramm is a top economic adviser to McCain."](CNN) - Democrats blasted former Senator Phil Gramm, a top McCain economic adviser and campaign co-chairman, Thursday for saying Americans who have named the economy as a top concern this campaign cycle were “a nation of whiners.”

“Senator McCain said the economic problems facing Americans are psychological - now his top economic adviser and BFF, Phil Gramm said Americans facing tough economic are ‘whiners,’” said Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse in a statement sent to reporters.

McCain's campaign moved to distance itself from Gramm's comments. “Phil Gramm’s comments are not representative of John McCain’s views. John McCain travels the country every day talking to Americans who are hurting, feeling pain at the pump and worrying about how they’ll pay their mortgage," said a McCain official. "That’s why he has a realistic plan to deliver immediate relief at the gas pump, grow our economy and put Americans back to work.”

Gramm’s comments came in a Washington Times interview published Thursday. "We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline," said the former Texas senator.

"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession."

Gramm also said the media was responsible for fostering unnecessary anxiety over the state of the economy. "Misery sells newspapers,” he said. “Thank God the economy is not as bad as you read in the newspaper every day."

Democrats have been looking to portray John McCain as out-of-touch on the economy, as he and Democrat Barack Obama battle over working-class voters, who have named the economy as their biggest worry this year.

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (365 Responses)
  1. No McCain!

    Uh... how about an actual recession?

    There's something mental about this guy, though...

    Obama '08

    July 10, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  2. JA Cook

    Right or not about whiners, Gramm is largely responsible for the financial crisis. Of course he wants to divert the attention and the blame.

    CNN, where's the inclusion about Gramm's involvement in the housing and banking mess? And what about his wife's?

    How come McCain keeps Gramm around? Oh, that's right, McCain's a war hero (genuinely) so his judgement is untouchable (wrongfully).

    July 10, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  3. Carson, MT

    I hate it when millionaires preach to the average American about whining. Maybe if they wouldn't corrupt Congress with skeptical lobbying practices, we wouldn't whine so much.

    Obama 08

    July 10, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  4. LET IT GO

    LOL good one Chryssa.

    July 10, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  5. T GUY


    July 10, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  6. Linda from Prescott AZ

    I guess it doesn't matter when your spouse is rolling in dough.
    As for the instant relief at the pumps, that tax that he is going to do away with will affect our highways and bridges, of course what are a few lives lost in collapsed bridges if the action brings media coverage and votes.

    July 10, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  7. Independent Colorado

    A mental recession? How much is gas, food, clothing, and housing? Nothing about that is "mental"!

    Obama 08/12'

    July 10, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  8. Dave in Atlanta

    Yeah it's always interesting when a bunch of millionaires dismiss our concerns with the economy as "whining".

    These are the same people who want to tell us we should be shaking in our boots because there is a muslim terrorist under every bed.

    July 10, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  9. The Surly Scholar

    Uhhhh, actually Phil, it looks more like a real recession. Which you helped cause by voting against borrower protection bills designed to protect consumers from the predatory lending policies that ultimately led to the subprime housing crisis. It also didn't help that while our dollar was quite rapidly going down the toilet, you were exacerbating the depreciation by lobbying for foreign banks. You think it to be a "mental" recession because I'm sure you and all your little friends are just swimming in dough. Maybe you should go and talk to the countless thousands of Americans who have lost their jobs and their benefits, or the millions who can't afford healthcare. I'm sure they'll tell you that it's a real recession, you gibbering moron.

    Frankly, I can't express how angry I am at this self-righteous, overpaid imbecile for saying something so insensitive and out of touch. Good luck to McCain trying to distance himself from comments made by the guy who he PERSONALLY APPOINTED as his chief economic adviser. Once again a gaffe by the McCain camp has revealed the republican party's true contempt for the American people. Excellent work.

    July 10, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. Fabain Blache III, Baton Rouge, LA

    Interesting. Chris Angel must be on the McCain staff now because Gramm and McCain are trying to Mind Freak the American public into believing that our economic woes are just a figment of our imaginations.

    This pathetic coming from two men who never eat hamburger helper and spend more per month on lunches at swanky restaurants than the average American family has on hand to pay their houshold bills.

    July 10, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  11. Dan

    This just goes to show you what a joke and a farce the political process is. What spokesman, in his right mind, uses "BFF" in an official statement? What are we in high school?...nevermind, don't answer that

    July 10, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  12. California Gold

    CNN I love the pictures you post with the articles. Both Gramm and McCain look like brainless twits. "Huh???"

    Now that I think about it, that explains a lot of their blather and stupidity. Anyone who wants to be my President who believes hard working Americans going through economic hardship are "whiners" is completely out-of-touch with reality. That, my friend, is true mental recession.

    July 10, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  13. Robert

    Calling the American people a "Nation of Whinners" over the lousy state of the Economy with the cost of gasoline, home heating oil and food, tells you all you need to know about Phil Gramm.
    And gives you an idea of the kind of people McCain relies on for advice.

    July 10, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  14. Concerned Citizen, IN

    While Americans may whine a lot, the complaining about the economy is nothing short of the truth. Gas prices have doubled, housing markets are impossible, and credit is being crunched.

    But I would expect a comment like that from someone like Gramm who is a lobbyist:

    "While advising the McCain campaign, Gramm was being paid by a UBS to lobby Congress about the U.S. mortgage crisis. During this time, "the mortgage industry pressed Congress to roll back strong state rules that sought to stem the rise of predatory tactics used by lenders and brokers to place homeowners in high-cost mortgages.""

    July 10, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  15. Charles

    This shows how serious the McCain's econoimic advisor feels what ordinary Americans are going through....This should be a BIG issue..No double standard....

    Obama '08

    July 10, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  16. Played in Peoria

    Check our Failing Social Security System and tell me why we are in a psychological recession, again? Our futures are being spent away.. Funny how congress can pay themselves a starting salary of 150,000 a year for what they do, and American's work themselves to the bone for 1/4 of that and keep loosing more and more skin with it. This is McCain denial in the worst offense. The government is in need of a complete overhall and a true reality check.

    July 10, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  17. TiredofMcCainsFreeRide

    OMG – This is an absolutely abomination to the suffering and struggles of the average American.

    To call U.S. whiners is the most out of touch remark anyone could have made. It’s obvious now more than ever that John McCain and the Republican Party are extremely out of touch with America.

    Should we be Sorry Grahmm, that 98% Americans are not millionaires or billionaires...are we whiners because we can’t monopolize the market and profit from it.

    Oh I see we are the little people and our only role in America is to work harder..To take on two or three jobs and just gave the money to people like you and then shut up and be happy.

    Shame on the GOP and John McCain they have no shame

    Thank you and GOD BLESS AMERICA

    July 10, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  18. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Three words – Out...of...touch...

    July 10, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  19. Nick - Arlington, VA

    this is the idiot who lobbied for the companies that created the mortgage crisis...and i doubt he is having any problems with money....loser.

    OBAMA '08

    July 10, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  20. Connie

    If he had been in the Obama's campaign McBush would have been calling for him to have tire tracks from the bus on his back by night fall, also the media would be playing it 10 times an hour, times 24 hours, 7 days a week. Of course if we had deep pockets like him and his crowd(McBushs included) we would not be whiners, i am still bitter.
    I guess Joe Liberman might need to stand between him and McBush so he can whisper in both of their ears.

    Connie from Indiana

    July 10, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  21. Frank

    With all the ridiculous, uninformed responses from all the Obama followers on these blogs I am inclined to agree.

    July 10, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  22. Necie in OKC

    Gramm is ABSOLUTELY WRONG> This is how McBush feels too but he would not DARE say it because he wants to be President. This comes from people with mega money in the bank, not worried about healthcare because they can drop $100k at the doctors office and $5.00/gal gas don't phase them. And you call Sen Obama an elitist???? SHAME on you!!

    July 10, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. L

    totally agree with you Mr Gramm, misery sells newspapers. If you look at a paper from the UK, most will tell you good and bad things about Iraq and Afghanistan, so you get the full picture. Here int he States you only get the really bad news.

    July 10, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. Ray

    Forget about what Gramm said! How about what McCain said!
    “Senator McCain said the economic problems facing Americans are psychological". How out of touch is that! Many, many Americans are suffering. They are turning their cars/trucks into the banks because they can't afford the payments. They are loosing their homes to forclousure in record number. They are borrowing against their homes equity to make ends meet. This he calls psychological!

    July 10, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. NPA

    If I were advising Obama, I would tell them to put this into ads to be aired in battleground states or at least make sure he mentions it each time he holds a rally, a town hall meeting, or a press conference.

    July 10, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
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