Matt Miller - The Archives

The great American political gridlock
The Washington Post, June 26, 2013

Now he tells us!

Buried deep inside "Balance," his illuminating new book on the history of the decline of great powers, Glenn Hubbard, Mitt Romney's top economic adviser and the dean of Columbia Business School, says we need a third political party to shake things up and get the debate the country needs.

I wish I could say Hubbard is a tortured soul driven by Romney's disappointing campaign to seek a better way. That would be a dramatic story, but it's not true. Hubbard is loyal to Romney and proud of many of the campaigns's proposals. The soft-spoken dean is more green eyeshades than bomb-thrower. But Hubbard is also convinced that the two party "duopoly" is failing the country. Sometimes our subversives show up in shades of gray.

Hubbard's and co-author Tim Kane's book is a chronicle of the institutional and political stagnation that has led great polities from ancient Rome to contemporary California to squander their position and eventually fall. But tucked away amid these historical case studies is a surprisingly fresh vision from a top Romney insider as to what's needed to spare the United States the same fate.

For starters, Hubbard thinks the difference between our political parties is exaggerated, saying "the contrast is cartoonish." He and Kane continue:

"Most liberals recognize the vitality of the private sector, not the state, as the foundation of prosperity. And most conservatives believe in the modern federal role in our economy—for the central bank's authority, for programs that fight poverty at the federal level, for national security, and even for social security .