The Chicago Tribune is the epitome of the big city newspaper. Big, bold, and with a great deal of investigative reporting.
For many years it had been right-wing from top to bottom, but of late, its columnists (with one exception) have ranged from moderate to progressive.
The editorials however, have hewed to the conservative line: Small government, reduced federal deficits and debt, pro-business, and anti-poor.
By way of example, here are some excerpts from a January 3, 2021, Chicago Tribune editorial:
The Biden Presidency
How Joe Biden can save Medicare and Social Security
There are some who speculate Biden, now 78, will declare early on that he won’t seek reelection.
We’re not in the prediction business. But we are in the advice business, and Biden — like the presidents who preceded him — has a shot at building a historic legacy as the one who rallied people of all political stripes to confront issues other pols duck.
Among those issues: saving the social safety net for older Americans.
The Washington establishment has known for decades that Medicare and Social Security are imperiled.
That was true even after 1983 when President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, and House Speaker Tip O’Neill, a Democrat, famously cut a compromise to extend the solvency of Social Security by a couple of generations.
To get the deal, Reagan surrendered his demand that Americans be allowed to opt out of the program. And O’Neill disproved the adage that Democrats are frightened to speak aloud about entitlement reforms they know are inevitable.
In 2021, though, the entitlement future grows bleaker. Older people are living longer; younger people are having fewer babies.
A U.S. economy that in 1950 had 16 workers for each Social Security recipient now has only 2.8 — and by the time today’s new workers retire around 2060, that ratio will plummet to 2-to-1.
The math is inexorable, the entitlements unsustainable. Federal trustees now calculate that Medicare’s main fund, covering hospital costs, will be exhausted in 2026.
Yes, in five years. Social Security’s main fund runs dry eight years later, in 2034, after which incoming taxes from workers will pay only 76% of scheduled benefits.
And there you have The Big Lie of Economics, in all its glory.
The so-called “math,” is a myth..
The “16 workers for each Social Security recipient now has only 2.8” is meaningless. Contrary to popular ignorance, workers and their FICA contributions do not fund Social Security.
The federal government creates new dollars, ad hoc, every time it pays for something. Those FICA dollars disappear from the economy and are destroyed upon receipt by the Treasury.
Social Security’s “main fund” is not the nonexistant trust fund. Rather, Social Security’s main fund is the U.S. government itself, which cannot ever run short of dollars.
Presidents of both major parties have given lip service to reform but — sometimes for lack of trying, sometimes because of blind resistance from the opposing party — none since Reagan has delivered fixes.
A President Biden can cite the urgency Barack Obama voiced on Jan. 15, 2009, when he told the Washington Post Editorial Board that he would rescue Social Security and Medicare:
“What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further. We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else’s. … You have to have a president who is willing to spend some political capital on this. And I intend to spend some.”
Lovely words, except that was all Obama ever had: Words. He was a weak conservative in a liberal’s clothing.
He was the “Deporter-in-Chief,” the “Debt-Hawk-In-Chief,” the “Big-Business-Appeaser-in-Chief, and the “Coddle-The-Big-Banks-in-Chief.
Obama was George Bush only more intelligent and glib.
Except Obama didn’t spend capital on rescuing entitlements. We wrote six years later, in 2015, that all of us should “forgive young American workers who darkly assume that, because their elders behaved like selfish pigs, nothing but a heap of debt paper will be left for them.”
“Selfish pigs” implies that because Americans didn’t want to increase FICA taxes or cut benefits, Social Security would fail. Again, nonsense.
Selfishness has nothing to do with it. Ignorance has everything to do with it.
Social Security can fail only if the federal government intentionally allows it to fail.
In 2020, the federal government decided to add an extra $3 Trillion to the economy in order to prevent a depression. This year, the federal government will send out $600 checks — billions more dollars — to continue supporting the economy.
Where will those additional trillions of dollars come from?
Those additional trillions will not come from additional taxes. There are no additional taxes. The additional dollars will come from the same place all federal spending dollars come from: The federal government simply will create dollars by pressing computer keys.
And no, the dollars will not be borrowed. The federal government does not borrow. Being Monetarily Sovereign, and having the unlimited ability to create its own sovereign currency, the federal government creates T-securities from thin air and sells them to investors.
The investors’ dollars are stored in T-security accounts — not used by the federal government — and when the T-securities mature, the government sends the dollars back to the investors.
The federal government can create dollars endlessly. Even if the government didn’t collect a single FICA dollar — even a single tax dollar of any kind — the government could fund Social Security, Medicare and every other project, forever.
President-elect Biden knows. Yet as a candidate, he vacillated between pandering to voters and acknowledging that something has to change.
He proposes higher Social Security benefits for low earners. And he would extend the payroll tax — now 6.2% for workers and the same for their employers.
For 2021, that taxation applies until a worker has earned $142,800. But Biden’s plan also would apply the tax to wages above $400,000. So if you earn, say, $500,000 a year, you’d pay the Social Security tax on your first $142,800 and on your last $100,000, but not on the $257,200 between those thresholds.
Candidate Biden dismissed “Medicare for All” proposals as unaffordable.
Yet he has proposed lowering the eligibility age from 65 to 60, while retaining the private health insurance system that now covers 180 million Americans.
Biden knows. Bernie Sanders knows, too. He had to know because for a year he was advised by Stephanie Kelton, who recently published a book telling why the government can’t run short of dollars.
Sadly, Biden and Sanders, being old-line politicians, have been afraid to tell the American public the truth.
Hospital groups oppose the eligibility age drop; shifting more people to Medicare would deprive providers of the higher reimbursements that private insurers now pay for care.
But without the political will to tell voters that the entitlement programs are on a failing trajectory, the details of how any president and Congress would tweak them are immaterial.
The likely eventuality is some combination of changes to eligibility ages, payroll taxation and future benefits. Beneath that umbrella phrase sit countless possible recipes for rescue.
It’s not just hospital groups that oppose the truth. It’s the rich, who run America — they are the primary opposition.
The rich fear that if the voters understood the facts of Monetary Sovereignty, they would demand more benefits, and receiving those benefits would narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.
It is the Gap that makes the rich, rich. Without the Gap, no one would be rich; we all would be the same. And the wider the Gap, the richer they are.
So the rich bribe the politicians, the media, and the economists to tell you that benefits are “unaffordable” and “unsuitable,” and if benefits run out, it’s your fault for being “selfish.”
And now, here comes the suicide recommendation:
You’ll find plenty of smart ideas at the website of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB).
The towering issue now is whether Biden will, like presidents before him, let the nation drift closer to an insolvency crisis or, instead, will be the leader who saves these programs.
As a senior citizen and a grandfather, Biden has the street cred to level with older Americans about the punishing math — and to give young Americans some hope that Medicare and Social Security will be there for them.
On entitlements and other crucial issues, this is how Joe Biden can take his place in history — not merely as the guy who beat the last guy, but as the American president who solved problems his predecessors wouldn’t touch.
The above four sentences are filled with lies from the rich.
1. The CRFB is a “rich-guys” organization devoted to promulgating the Big Lie that somehow the U.S. federal government can run short of the U.S. dollar, which it originally created from thin air and continues to create from thin air, at will. We discuss this harmful and dangerous group here.
2. The U.S. government cannot become insolvent — not now, not tomorrow, not ever. The federal government is like the Bank in the game of Monopoly. It too cannot become insolvent, because by rule, the players can add more dollars to the Bank at will.
3. The “punishing math” is a punishing myth, which is easy to see, if you ask yourself one simple question: Where did the trillions of dollars come from? The so-called federal “debt” is above $20 trillion; where did those dollars come from?
If federal spending were funded by taxes and borrowing, taxpayers and lenders would first need to have dollars. There would have to be an original source for all those trillions of dollars floating around. And there is. The original source of U.S. dollars is the federal government.
Dollars are created by bank lending, but even banks need to have an original source of dollars. Without the federal government’s unlimited ability to create its own sovereign currency, there would be no dollars.
4. The “problems his predecessors wouldn’t touch” have nothing to do with the federal government’s infinite solvency. They have to do with the misinformation and disinformation being fed to the American public.
If Georgia voters elect two Democratic Senators, Biden will have the political power to reduce everyone’s taxes while providing everyone with Social Security, healthcare, and all the other benefits alluded to in the Ten Steps to Prosperity (below).
The only question then: Will he have the moral courage?
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
THE SOLE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT IS TO IMPROVE AND PROTECT THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE.
The most important problems in economics involve:
- Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
- Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”
Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics. Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps:
Ten Steps To Prosperity:
- Eliminate FICA
- Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone
- Social Security for all or a reverse income tax
- Free education (including post-grad) for everyone
- Salary for attending school
- Eliminate federal taxes on business
- Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually.
- Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.
- Federal ownership of all banks
- Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9%
The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.