Sunday, October 14, 2012


The New York Times has a long profile today on Mitt Romney's chief economic adviser, Columbia Business School dean Glenn Hubbard, who has a good shot at becoming the treasury secretary in a Romney administration. I'm sure his policy prescriptions won't surprise you:
If Mr. Hubbard becomes Treasury secretary, cutting taxes would very likely be his highest priority. Altering the tax code to encourage savings and bolster investment has been one of his favorite causes. While serving under President Bush as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, he pushed to reduce dividend taxes to zero. (Ultimately, the top tax rate on dividends was cut by more than half, to 15 percent.)
He's such a fan of tax cuts that even some fellow right-wingers are concerned:
Some right-leaning economists, though, have reservations. Their worry is that Mr. Hubbard is not enough of a deficit hawk, and that if he follows through with tax cuts as articulated in the Romney plan, the results could be a disaster.
So let's imagine a Romney administration in which some people want to offset tax cuts with the serious closing of loopholes, or even want to limit the cutting of taxes. On the other side will be Hubbard. Who do you suppose will win?

Well, my money's on Hubbard, because, for him, bureaucratic infighting is apparently a blood sport:
In that job [on Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, Hubbard] demonstrated great skills as political player. He turned the council, which had existed until then mainly to rah-rah administration policy, into a force in Washington.

"Glenn usurped the Treasury Department on tax policy," says Leonard E. Burman, a professor of public affairs at Syracuse University who worked at the Treasury Department during the Clinton administration. "I had friends who worked at the department after I left, and they said that Glenn shifted the balance of power dramatically." ...


There is another, more prickly side to Mr. Hubbard.... One faculty member who saw it is Noel Capon, a tenured professor in the school's marketing department. In October 2010, he received a letter from Christopher J. Mayer, a professor in the finance and economics division who was then the senior vice dean, accusing him of violating a number of Columbia University rules on outside commercial ventures. The letter had what Mr. Capon considered an aggressive tone; it took him aback. After a few months and a conversation with a fellow professor, Mr. Capon concluded that Mr. Hubbard was behind what he regarded as a carefully orchestrated campaign against him. The point, he believes, was to bully him into line.

"There were situations in the past where I might have made statements that challenged Glenn," says Mr. Capon....


...the way some decisions have been made at the school was described as "Brezhnevian" by one professor....

The most memorable vote came in the fall of 2008, when Mr. Mayer gathered senior faculty members and made a surprising announcement: Dean Hubbard's job was in peril. President Bollinger was balking at appointing him to a second five-year term.

According to several participants, Mr. Mayer urged professors to demonstrate their support for Mr. Hubbard with a petition, which attendees were asked to sign on the spot. Several current and former faculty members used the identical word to describe the experience: bizarre.

... some professors, even fans of Mr. Hubbard's, felt a little coerced....
(Hubbard kept his job, by the way -- possibly because President Lee Bollinger "was worried about losing the financial support of Mr. Hubbard's friends, most notably Mr. Kravis.")

Think back to the foreign-policy battles in the Bush administration between moderate conservatives and hard-liners hell-bent on invading Iraq. This is how intramural battles like that are won -- through bureaucratic hardball. So in a Romney White House you can just forget about tax-cut restraint, or an emphasis on closing loopholes, if Hubbard is treasury secretary and opposes them.. It looks as if Hubbard, given a Cabinet post, would steamroll anyone who tried to slow him down.

Democratic administrations never have anyone who fights like this for more progressive change. (In the Obama administration, folks like Larry Summers fought this way against progressive economics.) But in Republican administrations, the rightists inevitable lose to the even-more-rightists, who fight dirty and fight harder.

1 comment:

Victor said...

Not today, Steve.

I can't take it.

Jeter's out with a broken ankle, so I'm damn near suicidal already.
*sob* :'-(

Talking about the demise of the country, right after Jeter goes down, is more than I can bear.

Now is the time to wail, moan, weep bitter tears, and rend my garments, in grief - I have no hair left to pull - over Baseball.

Tomorrow I'll think about the country.

What do you think about putting A-Rod at SS?
Maybe he can remember how great he once was.

Where have you gone, Derek Jeter? Yankee nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
Joltin' Jeter's broken, and is out for the season?