Harvard economist and former economic adviser to Mitt Romney Greg Mankiw has a column up on the New York Times website that will run in tomorrow’s paper. In general, it’s a well-thought out piece that basically says we are eventually going to need to cut entitlement spending and raise taxes on everyone in order to pay down our deficit.
But the last line of the piece made my jaw drop, given that Mankiw was one of Romney’s top advisers:
But fiscal negotiations might become a bit easier if everyone started by agreeing that the policies we choose must be constrained by the laws of arithmetic.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Now Mankiw wants policies to be “constrained by the laws of arithmetic?” He just spent months promoting economic policies that were mathematically impossible! And now he’s imploring everyone else to follow the laws of arithmetic. I haven’t read anything this hypocritical in quite a while.
BTW, I know the Tax Policy Center took a lot of heat on the right for the assumptions it made in determining that Romney’s tax plan was impossible, even though most of those assumptions were incredibly favorable to Romney. However, Mankiw and the Romney campaign could easily have cleared up the controversy by outlining the specifics of the plan. They refused to do so. Thus, the blame still lies with Mankiw and the campaign.
Obama, Romney and many other politicians have gotten used to quote approval. This means that before a reporter publishes a story, he must send it to the campaign and have the quotes in it approved. It’s a pretty absurd tactic as it allows the campaigns to change and manipulate their words after the fact. Well, from the New York Times today:
In a memorandum to the staff, Ron Fournier, National Journal’s editor in chief, said, “If a public official wants to use NJ as a platform for his/her point of view, the price of admission is a quote that is on-record, unedited and unadulterated.”
The Washington Examiner said the same last week and the Times itself is now reviewing its policy.
This really shouldn’t be a hard decision. Quote approval is absurd. It takes the point out of an interview. Public officials can just go back after the fact, edit what they said so that it’s exactly what they want to say and then have the writer publish it that way. That’s just a fluff piece.
It’s about time all news organizations adopt this requirement. If you’re a journalist and a public official denies you an interview because of this rule, instead write that for your article. Rip into the official for a lack of transparency and an unwillingness to speak. Pretty soon, officials will be talking on the record and maybe, just maybe, there will be less lying and deception in politics. It certainly can’t hurt.