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. Jeff D, South Bend, IN

    A McCain advisor best be cautious mentioning "mental recession", when your horse is a senile, angry, pandering, flip-flopping old man.

    July 10, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  2. Mark Timmis

    When was the last time Graham visited a grocery store? Of course at his socio-economic level there is no recession, let's see this guy survive on minimum wage then see who the whiner is.

    July 10, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  3. Dave

    $4.30 a gallon for gas; soaring food prices due to soaring gas and natural disasters like the Midwest flooding; an expected increase in the cost to heat our homes this winter; companies across the board cutting jobs while increasing fees/costs; our out-of-whack health care system with seniors seeing cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security–

    Oh yeah, Graham's right on the money with this all being 'mental'.

    July 10, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  4. Trevor

    I am driving around 3 days now on empty gas tank.
    I guess am crazy

    July 10, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  5. judy, Wisconsin

    Whiners?–how arrogant. We have a discusting, lawless party in power with an illiterate bumbling " leader", record mortgage forclosures, rising gas and food prices, many people loosing jobs, an endless war sucking 12 million dollars/ month etc., etc. etc. Can't these people just shut up already?

    July 10, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  6. Code Blue

    The guy standing behind McCain is responsible for this "mental mess" we are in now. He de-regulated the crooks, which unleashed corruption for his banking friends

    July 10, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  7. R.I.F.

    Phill Gramm is the same guy who worked and lobbyed for UBS and helped to cause part of the mortgage problem and is also married to the women who help create the Enron Loophole which has helped drive up gas prices. I would expect for a comment like this to come out of his mouth.

    July 10, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  8. Hawk

    WOW unbeleiveable

    July 10, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  9. Eimerd

    Of course all of us , non-millionaires, are whiners, the likes of McCAIN and Gramm dont have our concerns as they don't feel the effect of this reccession.

    July 10, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. Neal


    July 10, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  11. Steve

    Phil Gramm is not one to advise the people on what the truth is about the economy, especially since he is one of the instigators of the subprime meltdown. When he slipped in his Commodity Futures Modernization Act into the appropriations bill for 2000, which among other things created the "Enron Loophole" and deregulated certain financial instruments that played a big part in the subprime crisis.

    July 10, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  12. In California

    He is right, all of us should stop whining and start spending our millions,

    Oh oh.. wait a minute.. I just realized...


    July 10, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. tardis

    Yea, that's it. My falling home value and the rising cost to fill my tank are all in my head. Thanks for clearing that up, Dr. Phil.

    July 10, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. Joseph H, Warner Robins, GA

    Neither McCain nor his campaign have any room to talk about mental recessions. Gramm is a moron. You cannot say that you identify with Americans who find themselves with rising costs of living and in the next breath call them whiners, as if costs are not going up as they make it seem.
    People concerned with skyrocketing costs for fuel and food are not whiners. Many are hardworking Americans who feel as if Washington has become ineffective at managing the economy. I am not an Obama supporter, but McCain has virtually no economic or monetary policy experience. You remember his debate question from Ron Paul concerning the Presidents Working Group in Financial Markets. McCain had absolutely, without a doubt, what the question was about.
    The GOP will suffer a crushing defeat if the best we can come up with is someone so out of touch as McCain.

    July 10, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  15. Nikki

    McCain's campaign is completely out of touch. Comments like these should make Americans wonder how important is the economic crisis to McCain. It appears that his top priority is WAR.....starting wars, fininishing wars, ending wars...war, war, war! Americans that are in the middle and lower echelons of the economic tier feel the squeeze from the economy. I hope the media harps on this elitist point of view from the McCain camp. Of course, McCain and his multi-millionaire wife can afford to live in today's economy. However, the majority of us can not.

    July 10, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. Mary

    Hmmmm, McCain doesn’t know anything about the economy and now we find out his economic advisor is just as inept when it comes to knowing about the economy.

    Need I say more……

    That picture says it all…….that's the two clueless guys look!!!

    July 10, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  17. judi in NJ

    This is disgusting! Shame on John McCain for having such a greedy, nasty person on his team. I remember Phil Graham when he was a senator and was disgusted with him then. You are known by the company you keep, and that should say it all, John!

    July 10, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. katiec

    What rock is Graham hiding under?? Whiners??
    Unfortunately he is one of McCains closest friends and
    The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
    The republican party motto.

    July 10, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |

    I am still MAD about this comment!!!!!!


    THAT DOES NOT MAKE ME A WHINER. Graham makes too much money for the HIGH prices to affect him.

    McCain can't just let this one slide. This comment is even more offensive that the comment that "a terrorist attack would help his campaign" that the other advisor said.

    This reminds me of Marie Antoinette when she said "Let them eat cake."

    She said those words –the she was beheaded!!!

    July 10, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. Anita from Arizona

    That's what happens when you throw mud at the Obama Fan, it get blown in your face. Enjoy that elitist title, Gramm. You wear it well.

    July 10, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. Will, NJ

    Does BFF mean what I think it means?

    July 10, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  22. Richard, St. Paul, MN

    "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.

    Yep, we're whining because we've had eight years of Republican ineptitude, criminal behavior, stupidity and lies... which has resulted in a $10 trillion debt to China, a bloody and illegal war, 4,000+ dead soldiers, $8 billion missing in Iraq, rampant cronyism, record setting Pork Barrel spending, astronomical gas prices, unaffordable health care and an economy that's in the toilet. Whining? No. Righteous Indignation? You bet!

    July 10, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  23. John Angers

    I guess Americans would be "whining" a lot less if they had a millionaire spouse to help ease the sting of living in a recession with 4-dollar gas and rising unemployment, huh? Looking at Gramm's stupid mug, it's clear that this Snoopy-faced schmuck has never done an honest day's work in his life.

    July 10, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |


    July 10, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  25. Brian, Pittsburgh

    Senator Gramm just called Americans a "nation of whiners"?? Why isn't that the bigger story?? The media went crazy over Obama saying voters were "bitter", but Obama's words were taken out of context... "whiners" is exactly what Gramm meant. He didn't just say it once, he went on to explain it! I'm a lot more offended by being called a whiner!

    McCain should reject those comments!

    July 10, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
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