-New thinking from the New America Foundation

An alternative to popular faith

        Here is the text of an Email I sent to Steve Coll, President and CEO of the New America Foundation (http://newamerica.net/) (Offices in Washington, DC and San Francisco, CA). According to their web site, “The New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States.” They publish 12 “Principles” by which they live.

Dear Steve;
        Your principle #10, “Do not perpetuate budget myths” is excellent. In that regard you might wish to reconsider certain statements on your web site:

“In reality, the availability of debt financing is far from unlimited; in fact Japan and China have already begun to slow their purchasing of U.S. debt.”
        A myth. The federal government does not need to sell U.S. debt to Japan, China or to any other country or person. The government creates debt (T-securities) out of thin air, collateralized only by full faith and credit. It just as easily could create money out of thin air, also collateralized by full faith and credit, and eliminate the debt creation and sales step. Debt creation and sales is a relic of the gold-standard days.
See: How to eliminate federal debt, deficits and interest payments

        “While deficits can spur consumption and thus improve the immediate economic situation when there is slack in the economy, they lead to slower growth in living standards over the long run.”        
A myth. Federal deficits are necessary both for short term and long term growth. A growing economy requires a growing supply of money. Where else will the money come from to grow our economy?
See: I believe

        “Moreover, high deficits increase interest payments, which crowd out important tax and spending priorities and leave the budget with far less flexibility than it would otherwise.”        
Partly true, partly a myth. High deficits can increase interest payments. However the conclusion is circular reasoning. Interest payments can “crowd out” spending priorities only if the government is precluded from running deficits. To date, despite massive deficits for the past 30 years, interest payments never have crowded out anything.

        “Lastly, deficits shift the burden of paying for today’s spending to future generations, which may cause over-consumption by present generations at the expense of consumption by future generations.”
A myth: Today’s deficits are paid by future generations only if the future generations decide to run surpluses. When any generation runs a deficit, it’s tax payments do not even cover its current expenses, let alone past expenses. Deficits do not cost taxpayers money. Only surpluses cost taxpayers money.
See: It isn’t taxpayers’ money

        I have suggestions for a 13th and 14th principle:
13. Base all suggestions on supporting data, not on popular faith.
14. To accept new thinkers and new ideas, be prepared to let go of old thinkers with old ideas.”

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

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