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Economist Who Advises Mitt Romney: '€˜Rich Are Taxed Enough'€™

Economist Who Advises Mitt Romney: '€˜Rich Are Taxed Enough'€™

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'€œThe rich are taxed enough,'€ argued Columbia Business School Dean Glenn Hubbard.

The man who The New York Times called Mitt Romney'€™s '€œgo-to economist'€ and who is considered a leading candidate to be treasury secretary in a Republican administration made his case at a debate in New York.

'€œRaising tax rates on the rich is both counter-productive and unnecessary to fund the government we want,'€ said Hubbard.

While steering clear of specifics, Hubbard told the audience at the Intelligence Squared Debate that '€œhigher tax rates won'€™t necessarily produce enhancements in revenue.'€

'€œWe can and should achieve fairness and growth without taxing the rich more than they are today,'€ he said.

Hubbard'€™s somewhat dry tone was balanced by the passion of one of his debate opponents, former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich. Speaking against the motion '€œthe rich are taxed enough,'€ Reich argued called the idea '€œabsurd.'€

'€œThe rich have done extraordinarily well but the rest haven'€™t,'€ said Reich to audience applause. '€œThe percentage of total U.S. income of the top 1 percent has doubled in the past 30 years. Given where we are now, we shouldn'€™t even have this debate.'€

Hubbard opposed raising tax rates for the rich but added, '€œWe need a progressive tax system.'€

'€œThe wealthy should pay a disproportionate share of taxes,'€ he said.

Hubbard and his debate team colleague, Arthur Laffer, spoke out for tax reform that would lower rates but also broaden the tax base.

'€œWe need to think about growth and fairness. Tax rates should not rise,'€ said Hubbard.

The United States already has one of the most progressive tax systems in the world, he argued. Comparing the U.S. economy to a tall building, Hubbard said the '€œlower floors are flooded'€ while the people in the penthouse are doing well -but '€œthe elevator is broken.'€

If the tax base were broadened with lower rates and tax reform, opportunity would be expanded and '€œwe would get more revenues'€ to pay for the government,'€ he said.