Phil Gramm is the Forrest Gump of financial calamity. Time and again, his face appears at key moments in history. Unlike Gump, Gramm is usually planting the seeds of future disaster whenever he pops up.
Former Texas Senator Gramm is best known for his fine work dismantling financial regulations in the 1990s, which helped bring us the financial crisis of the mid-to-late-2000s. But he is also the intellectual father of the latest nightmare deviling the economy: the sequester.
Gramm was co-author of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, in which the idea of the "sequester," or "sequestration," was introduced as a fancy term for "nightmarish budget cuts." In fact, Gramm was the guy who introduced the idea of using sequestration as a whip to goad policy makers into cutting the deficit, Marketplace points out.
Though the "sequester" is a purposefully obscure euphemism that helps politicians avoid taking blame for nasty budget cuts, Gramm tells Marketplace that its obscurity was not intentional; he seems to believe that everybody knows exactly what is meant by "sequestration."
For the record, Gramm's fingerprints are nowhere near the latest version of sequestration, those budget cuts set to start taking effect on March 1. That is the handiwork of current Republicans in Congress and President Obama, who put the latest round of harsh budget cuts in place as a goad to force them to come up with a longer-term compromise on solving the budget deficit. That didn't work out so well, and now the economy is about to be sequestered to death.
That is not Gramm's fault, but Gramm owns the patent on the murder weapon.