As part of what we hope will be a recurring segment, we present to you the first installment of our Insta-Translator. The idea is simple: Take a confusing statement, run it through our Insta-Translator and render it in simple English.
For our maiden voyage, we’ve chosen this comment by ex-Mitt Romney (and ex-Bush) economic adviser Glenn Hubbard. In it, Hubbard appears to be throwing the campaign—and most Republican leaders—under the bus on the issue of raising taxes—but is he? Listen for yourself.
Statement: “What should those negotiating the fiscal cliff do? The first step is to raise average (not marginal) tax rates on upper-income taxpayers. Revenue increases should first come from these individuals. This means closing loopholes.”
Insta-Translate: “Phew, we lost bad, boy. God did we ever. But, with our fingers in our ears, and living in a cave this deep into the ground, it’s difficult to hear the clarion call of change voters demanded last Tuesday. Also, how does it make me look if I suddenly admit, yeah, the CBO is right; a small hike on just the wealthy won’t hurt the economy. I teach at Columbia for godsakes. I gotta see these yahoos gloat in the hallway every day.
But here’s what I’m ready to concede: The whole “revenue neutral” Romney plan? Yeah, we’re all still having a good laugh about that one. Still, we’re still going to act like Romney won, too, and that Republicans have some political capital to negotiate. So what we’d like to do is meet you halfway on the whole “raising taxes” thing. And by “halfway,” I mean we walk to the driveway, while you drive to our house: We’ll hold the line on taxes and you can knock off a loophole or two. That way, we’re the good parent, and you’re the one handing out toothbrushes at Halloween.
Am I whistling Dixie on this one? Probably. Do I have a history of telling conservatives what they want to hear and you’re like, “Does he really believe that?” Definitely. Am I a bit of denialist? You betcha.
But, hey, look at me! I’m in the Financial Times! Dean of Columbia Business School! And even better? People usually pay to hear me say this stuff. It’s quite a life.”