Phil Gramm

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William Philip “Phil” Gramm

In office
January 3, 1985 – November 30, 2002
Preceded by John Tower
Succeeded by John Cornyn

United States Representative for
Texas' 6th Congressional District
In office
February 12, 1983 – January 3, 1985
Preceded by (himself)
Succeeded by Joe Barton
In office
January 3, 1979 – January 5, 1983
Preceded by Olin "Tiger" Teague
Succeeded by (himself)

Born July 8, 1942
Fort Benning, Georgia, USA
Political party Democrat-turned-Republican (switched in 1983)
Spouse(s) Wendy Lee Gramm
Children Marshall Gramm
Jeff Gramm
Occupation Economics professor
Economics consultant
Religion Episcopalian

William Philip Gramm (born July 8, 1942), known as Phil Gramm, is an American politician from San Antonio, Texas. Born in Georgia and a three-degree graduate of the University of Georgia at Athens, Gramm was elected in 1978[1] as a Democrat to the Ninety-sixth Congress for the district including Bryan and College Station, at which he was a member of the economics faculty at Texas A&M University.

Political career

U.S. House of Representatives

After being re-elected in 1982,[2] Gramm was tossed out of the House Budget Committee for backing much of President Ronald Reagan's economic policies.[3] In retaliation, he resigned from his post on January 5, 1983 to run for the same seat as a Republican. The resulting special election triggered by his resignation was won by him on February 12, 1983.[4]

Having helped lead what remained of the Conservative Coalition, Gramm ensured the passage of President Reagan's initiatives in the House even as Democrats controlled the chamber by a significant majority. After switching parties, he faced backlash from the Democrat leadership; Rep. Tony Coelho of California remarked:[5]

[Gramm] was a traitor.

His decision was contrary to the stubbornness of his family (including his maternal grandmother, a staunch Democrat) who resented the Republican Party; Gramm asserted on the matter:[6]

The Republicans were the guys in the blue shirts who burned down my grandmother's grandmother's house. I never met a Republican till I was grown.

An outspoken fiscal conservative,[6] Gramm fought to cut federal spending and balance the budget.[5]

U.S. Senate

He was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1984,[7] reelected in 1990[8] and again in 1996;[9] he served from January 3, 1985 to November 30, 2002, when he resigned. Gramm's predecessor was conservative-turned-Moderate Republican John Tower, who held the position from 1961 to 1985.

According to a GovTrack ranking in 2002, Gramm held a mostly conservative tenure in the Senate.[10]


He was campaign co-chair and a senior economic adviser to John McCain's presidential campaign from the summer of 2007 until July 18, 2008. He stepped down after he publicly stated:[11]

"We have sort of become a nation of whiners, you just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline."

McCain's opponent, then-senator Barack H. Obama, stated, "America already has one Dr. Phil. We don't need another one when it comes to the economy. ... This economic downturn is not in your head."[12]

Gramm is a strong advocate of school choice and has criticized Republicans in Texas for failing to fully implement it.[13] Legislation to further such has previously been blocked in the Texas House of Representatives by Moderate Republican House Speaker Joe Straus,[14][15][16] who held the post for a decade.


We're the only nation in the world where all our poor people are fat.[5]
I don't just have faith in the free enterprise system, I have evidence.[6]
Eight-four percent of Texas primary voters support school choice, but the teachers' union in Austin is blocking new legislation that lets parents take their share of tax money spent on education and send their children to the school of their choice. Let your legislator know that you demand that a vote be held on school choice.[17]


  1. TX District 6. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  2. TX District 6. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  3. Reinhold, Robert (January 6, 1983). GRAMM QUITS HOUSE FOR G.O.P. RACE. The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  4. TX District 6 - Special Election. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Tumulty, Karen (November 13, 1985). Gramm’s Politics of Controversy : Plan for Balanced Budget Keeps Capital Off Balance. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Roberts, Steven V. (March 30, 1986). PHIL GRAMM'S CRUSADE AGAINST THE DEFICIT. The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  7. TX US Senate. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  8. TX US Senate. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  9. TX US Senate. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  10. Sen. Phil Gramm. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  11. Hill, Patrice (July 9, 2008). Washington Times - McCain adviser talks of 'mental recession'. Retrieved on August 28, 2012.
  12. Associated Press (July 10, 2008). Obama on Gramm: 'America already has one Dr. Phil'. USA Today. Retrieved on August 28, 2012.
  13. TExas Public Policy Foundation (October 9, 2018). Keynote Speaker- The Honorable Phil Gramm. YouTube. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  14. Sullivan, Michael Quinn (February 16, 2014). Shining Light On Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. Breitbart News. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  15. Ward, Kenric (October 25, 2017). In the face of growing controversy, Straus steps down. The Texas Monitor. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  16. Tilove, Jonathan (June 15, 2017). Foreshadowing fight, Straus rejects bathroom bill, school choice. Statesman. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  17. TPPF Announces School Choice Radio Ads Featuring Sen. Cruz and Former Sen. Gramm. Texas Public Policy Foundation. Retrieved May 27, 2021.

External links

  • Profile at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Profile at the American Enterprise Institute