Another reminder why reducing the federal deficit is national suicide. Your health, your children’s health and your grandchildren’s health are being sacrificed. Tuesday, May 17 2011 

The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology. Those, who do not understand Monetary Sovereignty, do not understand economics. If you understand the following, simple statement, you are ahead of most economists, politicians and media writers in America: Our government, being Monetarily Sovereign, has the unlimited ability to create the dollars to pay its bills.
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Another reminder about why reducing the federal deficit is national suicide: Your health, your children’s health and your grandchildren’s health is being threatened — no more than threatened, compromised. And it’s all because of the myth the federal deficit and federal debt are “unsustainable.”

While the myth is easily disproved, the politicians, media and mainstream economists refuse to learn.

By Associated Press, Updated: Tuesday, May 17, 2011
WASHINGTON — A disease standoff may be brewing: How can Alzheimer’s research receive more scarce dollars without cutting from areas like heart disease or cancer?

In one of the stark realities of the budget crisis, scientists’ chances of winning research dollars from the National Institutes of Health for any condition have dipped to a new low.

“We are clearly not able to support a lot of great science that we would like to support,” NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins told senators last week. This year, for every six grant applications that NIH receives, “five of them are going to go begging.”

That’s down from nearly 1 in 3 grants funded a decade ago, and 1 in 5 last year. And it comes before the looming fight over how much more to cut in overall government spending for next year, and where to make those cuts.

Already, a new report says one of the biggest losers is aging research, despite a rapidly graying population that promises a worsening epidemic of dementia, among other illnesses.

“Nobody wants to say Alzheimer’s is worse than diabetes or heart disease or cancer,” says Dr. Sam Gandy, a prominent neuroscientist at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

But “part of the problem now with all the pressure to cut the budget … is that for Alzheimer’s to get more, something else has to lose,” adds Gandy. His own lab is scrambling for funds to study a potential dementia drug after losing out on an NIH aging grant.

The NIH pays for much of the nation’s leading biomedical research. Republicans and Democrats alike have long been staunch supporters. But the agency’s nearly $31 billion budget offers an example of the hard choices facing lawmakers, especially if they’re to meet House calls for a drastic scale-back of overall government spending.

So which do you fear more: Disease or the federal deficit, knowing the federal government has proved it can support any size deficit? Have you been so brainwashed by the Tea (formerly Republican) Party nuts, you are willing to lay your health, and the health of your family on the line?

Consider aging issues.

The NIH spends about $469 million on Alzheimer’s research, says a new report from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America that criticizes overall aging research as “a minuscule and declining investment.”

About 5.4 million Americans now have Alzheimer’s disease, and studies suggest health and nursing home expenditures for it cost more than $170 billion a year, much of it paid by Medicare and Medicaid.

NIH’s Collins told a Senate appropriations subcommittee that there’s a “very frightening cost curve.” In 2050, when more than 13 million Americans are projected to have Alzheimer’s, the bill is expected to reach a staggering $1 trillion. But he said that cost could be halved merely by finding a way to delay people getting Alzheimer’s by five years.

The debt-hawks are fond of showing you graphs illustrating (falsely) how the increase in older people will cause Social Security and Medicare to run out of money. But have they ever shown you a graph illustrating how many more people will get Alzheimers, for lack of medical research?

Monday, Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich jumped into the debate, saying that over the next four decades Alzheimer’s could cost the government a total of $20 trillion. He suggested selling U.S. bonds to raise money for research rather than have the disease compete each year for a share of the federal budget.

“We are grotesquely underfunded,” Gingrich said of health research dollars.

Yes, we are. Nice of him to notice. But creating T-securities out of thin air, then exchanging them for dollars we previously created out of thin air is foolish.

How foolish? Newt favors reducing the debt, but his bond-selling plan increases the debt. This demonstrates the idiocy of the Tea (formerly Republican) Party debt-reduction position. We wouldn’t need to struggle with complex, convoluted, nonsensical plans if we simply would end the debt-hawk control over our thinking. Stop selling bonds; fund with deficit spending.

Competition for today’s dollars is fierce, with applications up 60 percent at the aging division alone since 2003. Aging chief Dr. Richard Hodes says last year, his institute couldn’t pay for about half of what were ranked as the most outstanding applications for research projects. Still, he hopes to fund more scientists this year by limiting the number who get especially large grants.

What’s the squeeze? Congress doubled the NIH’s budget in the early 2000s, an investment that helped speed the genetic revolution and thus a host of new projects that scientists are clamoring to try. But in more recent years, economists say NIH’s budget hasn’t kept pace with medical inflation, and this year Congress cut overall NIH funding by 1 percent

The Obama administration has sought nearly $32 billion for next year, and prospects for avoiding a cut instead are far from clear. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who chairs the subcommittee that oversees the issue, warns that under some early-circulating House plans to curb health spending, “severe reductions to NIH research would be unavoidable.”

Still the Tea (formerly Republican) Party doesn’t get it. They don’t understand the simple premise that medical progress requires medical research.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., pushed Collins to make the case that investments in medical research really can pay off.

Collins’ response: Four decades of NIH-led research revealed how arteries get clogged and spurred development of cholesterol-fighting statin drugs, helping lead to a 60 percent drop in heart-disease deaths. Averaged out, that research cost about $3.70 per person per year, “the cost of a latte, and not even a grande latte,” Collins told lawmakers.

Get it now, debt hawks? Probably not. But are you willing to fight for your family’s health? Contact your Washington representatives and tell them our lives are being threatened by their misguided budget-reduction nonsense.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
http://www.rodgermitchell.com


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No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. It’s been 40 years since the U.S. became Monetary Sovereign, , and neither Congress, nor the President, nor the Fed, nor the vast majority of economists and economics bloggers, nor the preponderance of the media, nor the most famous educational institutions, nor the Nobel committee, nor the International Monetary Fund have yet acquired even the slightest notion of what that means.

Remember that the next time you’re tempted to ask a dopey teenager, “What were you thinking?” He’s liable to respond, “Pretty much what your generation was thinking when it screwed up my future.”

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

–Economic policy that’s stuck in reverse, by Senator Jeff Sessions Tuesday, Jan 25 2011 

The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology. Those, who do not understand monetary sovereignty, do not understand economics. Cutting the federal deficit is the most ignorant and damaging step the federal government could take. It ranks ahead of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff.

Here are some excerpts from an article titled, “Economic policy that’s stuck in reverse,” by Senator Jeff Sessions

Monday, January 24, 2011

As record levels of federal spending bring us ever closer to a tipping point, the Obama administration blissfully continues business as usual. We have seen no real plan, no strong leadership, no apparent willingness to confront the growing danger on the horizon.

At no point in his article does Senator Sessions say exactly what that “tipping point” or the “danger on the horizon” is. Will the federal government run out of money? Will we have uncontrollable inflation? Will taxes be forced up? The Senator never says, perhaps because the answer to all three questions is a resounding, “No.” Or perhaps because Senator Sessions has no idea what the answer is, and enjoys using scare words.

Last month, President Obama would agree to maintain current tax rates only if Congress would agree to increase federal deficit spending. We are headed toward a cliff, yet the president hits the accelerator.

Again, no explanation of “the cliff.” Does he mean he economic accelerator, the last thing the party not in power ever wants?

Meanwhile, others are moving in the opposite direction. England has a plan to cut its deficit by 86 percent in just four years. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has a plan to close his state’s funding gap without raising taxes. Even California’s new liberal governor has put forward a plan to cut state spending by 9 percent.

Here Senator Sessions demonstrates he does not understand the implications of Monetary Sovereignty. New Jersey and California are not monetarily sovereign, so cannot survive on tax money alone. They need to reduce spending or increase taxes. England is Monetarily Sovereign, but their politicians know as little about economics as do our politicians. If England ever were to reduce its deficit by 85%, they will have a recession or depression. (Worldwide, the nation with the smartest economists and politicians may be Monetarily Sovereign China, which so far has shown no fear of deficits, and thus has had the fastest recovery.)

Just days ago, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan ominously warned that U.S. debt may lead to a bond market crisis in two to three years.

Reminder to Senator Sessions: This is the same Alan Greenspan, under whose financial leadership, the nation went into the worst recession since the Great Depression. He has no credibility, nor do the people who quote him. Imagine a Fed chairman who is unaware the U.S. federal government does not need to create T-securities out of thin air, because it already has the power to create dollars out of thin air.

A debt crisis continues to spread through Europe that could reach our financial markets any moment. Now is the time to act. Yet the president continues to resist any meaningful steps to secure our financial future.

Specifically what has the European monetarily non-sovereign debt crisis to do with U.S. budgets? How will reducing our budgets stave off the European debt crisis? Senator Sessions never says, because presumably he has no idea.

To begin turning the corner, I propose that any effort to raise the debt ceiling be tied to no less than a sustained 10 percent reduction of current discretionary spending. Though this is only a first step, it would finally be a step in the right direction – one the country can easily absorb.

A “reduction in spending” is a synonym for a “reduction in money creation,” which invariably has led to recessions and depressions. See: Growth summary. Senator Sessions doesn’t read history. But, O.K., he has me sold. Let’s start with cutting Congressional salaries and perks. Let’s eliminate Congressional health insurance, and let those folks pay for it themselves. No more “fact-finding” junkets to warm climates in winter. Reasonable, Senator?

On Tuesday, President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address. Soon after, he will come forward with a new budget. This is a defining moment for his presidency. His proposals cannot be timid. And he must demonstrate that he is at last willing to shed his Keynesian worldview.

Guarantee: Senator Sessions has no idea what a “Keynsian worldview” is. But it makes him sound learned.

As we enter the annual budget season, Washington will need to consider the kind of change this country has not accomplished since 1997 – when a strong Republican Congress passed a budget that converted soaring deficits into surpluses.

Hmm. Wasn’t it a Republican president named Reagan, who instituted our greatest post-war deficits? And is he really taking credit for the Democratic Clinton surpluses, which caused the Republican Bush recession? Ah, details, details.

We need a budget with a bold vision – like those unveiled in Britain and New Jersey; one that reduces both the size of the deficit and the size of the government. We need a budget that does not require tax increases as the price for spending cuts – because while the spending cuts may disappear, the economic drain of higher taxes will not. And we need a budget that turns us back from the cliff so we can head down a new road – toward leaner government, responsible spending and a thriving private sector.

Again, the cliff? What is that cliff? Will we ever be told? Probably not. Anyway, what we really need is Congressional leaders who understand economics, so we wouldn’t continue to average one recession every five years. Is that too much to hope for, at least from the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee?

By the way, I recently was interviewed on radio station WNZF by Abby Romaine. Click this link to hear the show: Radio Interview

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
http://www.rodgermitchell.com

No nation can tax itself into prosperity.

–Arizona tries to gut Medicaid, punish the poor. Who is the bad guy? Monday, Jan 24 2011 

The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology. Those, who do not understand monetary sovereignty, do not understand economics. Cutting the federal deficit is the most ignorant and damaging step the federal government could take. It ranks ahead of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff.
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Arizona, seemingly in the front lines in the war against poverty striken, now wishes to increase the eligibility requirements for Medicaid. Hundreds of thousands of desperately sick, poor people would be refused health care. So who is the bad guy, here? Not Arizona, in my opinion.

Here are excerpts from a Washington Post article:

By N.C. Aizenman, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, January 23, 2011; 10:58 PM

Republican efforts to repeal or limit the reach of the new health-care law took a new direction last week when Arizona lawmakers approved a novel and controversial attempt to cut Medicaid for 280,000 of the state’s poor.

The bill, requested and signed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R), empowers her to make a formal request, most likely this week, for a federal waiver to avoid complying with provisions of the law that prohibit states from tightening their eligibility requirements for Medicaid.

Twenty-nine Republican governors, including Brewer, have signed a letter calling on President Obama and congressional leaders to remove the provision from the law.

But Arizona is the first state to, in effect, play chicken with the Obama administration by directly requesting a reprieve and daring Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to refuse.

Arizona’s move reflects two pressing realities: Many states face large budget shortfalls because of continuing economic difficulties, and Republican governors point to Medicaid cuts as one of the most logical ways to balance those budgets.

Advocates for Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor and disabled that is jointly funded by states and the federal government, say the Republican argument amounts to political posturing at best and heartless, shortsighted policy at worst. Most of the men and women Arizona wants to cut from Medicaid have to earn less than $10,830 per year to qualify for the program.

“If you’re a family and you hit tough times such that you can only afford to feed two out of your three children, you don’t tell your third child, ‘Sorry, Johnny, you’re not going to eat.’ You go out and find a way to get more food,” said Arizona state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix), who has made health care a focus.

Similarly, Sinema said, Brewer should attempt to restore the substantial cuts Arizona has already made to its Medicaid coverage in recent years, not seek new ones.

“This is not a political ploy,” Lazare said. “This is our plan. We don’t see a whole lot of other options.” The economic downturn has been particularly devastating to Arizona, Lazare noted, depleting tax revenues even as it led to newly poor residents who swelled the state’s Medicaid rolls by 46 percent over the past four years.

State lawmakers have already responded with some of the deepest Medicaid cuts of any state in recent years – slashing payment rates to doctors and other providers by 10 percent, freezing enrollment in the state’s supplemental health insurance program for children, and ceasing to pay for Medicaid benefits including certain kinds of organ transplants.

When that last high-profile policy took effect in October, nearly 100 indigent patients who were on the waiting list for a transplant were told that the state would no longer cover the procedure.

Since then, one of those patients has died. Another was forced to give up the liver offered to him by a dying family friend. A third man was able to get funding for a bone marrow transplant from an anonymous donor but died of complications from his cancer before the operation could take place.

The bad guy is the debt hawks, the Tea Party, the politicians who pander to them, and the selfish people who already have health insurance, and so are “against big government,” for reasons they don’t understand.

While the U.S. government is Monetarily Sovereign, Arizona is monetarily non-sovereign. It is a feature of non-sovereign governments that they cannot survive long term on tax money, alone. With the federal government’s taxes and inflation draining money out of the states, massive and ongoing federal infusions are needed by all states. Being Monetarily Sovereign, the federal government easily could and should provide these infusions.

Instead, Ron Paul (for example) and his government cronies (all of whom are given the best health insurance money can buy) repeatedly vote against federal spending (except for the aforementioned health insurance for politicians).

Never mind the poor. Never mind the sick children. Never mind the unfortunate, who do not have the means to provide even for minimal health care. Let them suffer. Let them die. We just don’t like government spending, because . . . well . . . just because at some unknown time in the future it might cause something bad, though there is no evidence of what. And anyway, I have insurance.

The English have an expression for that sort of selfish heartlessness, “I’m all right, Jack,” meaning “I’m taken care of, so the hell with you.” That is our Congress and our President. “They’re all right, Jack.” Hey, no problem if you have no conscience.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
http://www.rodgermitchell.com

No nation can tax itself into prosperity.

–Am I MMT? Are you? Wednesday, Jan 19 2011 

The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology. Those, who do not understand monetary sovereignty, do not understand economics. Cutting the federal deficit is the most ignorant and damaging step the federal government could take. It ranks ahead of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff.
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People often ask me whether I am part of MMT (Modern Monetary Theory), and my answer is, “No, I agree with MMT on its factual bases, but disagree with certain areas of opinion.

For instance, it is absolute, undeniable, historical fact that in 1971, the federal government gave itself the unlimited ability to create money, i.e. to spend dollars. This point cannot be argued. And because the government has the unlimited ability to create dollars, it needs neither taxes nor borrowing to support its spending. If taxes and borrowing were zero, this would not affect by even one penny, the government’s ability to create and spend dollars, which means that taxpayers do not pay for federal spending. The federal government does not spend taxpayers’ money. This too is undeniable fact.

If every federal lender (China et al) were to demand payment for all outstanding debts tomorrow, the U.S. government simply could say, “No problem. I’ll push this computer key, which will credit your bank account for the amount of the T-securities you own. All debts will be extinguished.”

Evolving from this is the fact that the federal government cannot be forced into bankruptcy, and evolving from this is the fact that no agency of the federal government can be forced into bankruptcy – not Congress, nor the Supreme Court, nor the Department of Defense, nor the other 1,000 federal agencies, including Social Security and Medicare. All those people who tell you Social Security will be bankrupt in “X” number of years, do not understand that the federal government supports all federal agencies the same way: By federal money creation. And none can be forced into bankruptcy.

Where I depart from MMT is where facts are lacking, i.e. in matters of opinion. MMT believes:
1. Taxation is necessary to give value to money
2. Inflation should be prevented/cured by reducing the money supply.

1. Taxation

Originally, MMTers said federal taxes were necessary to give value to dollars. I pointed out if taxes were necessary, there existed. sufficient state and local taxes to do the job. That belief now has been adopted by MMT.

As I have stated elsewhere in this blog (“Ignorance: Why you will pay more taxes and receive less service in the coming years.”) I do not accept the idea that taxes are necessary for money demand. People accept dollars because:

-They are handier than barter.
-Everyone else accepts them.
-The government has made dollars legal tender in payment of all bills.
-There is no other governmentally authorized form of money.
-If you sell a product or service to the government, it will pay you in dollars.
-If you receive Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or any other federal benefit, you and your service providers will receive payment in dollars.
-If you receive food stamps, your grocer will be paid in dollars
-Your army pay will be in dollars
-Federal stimulus payments, to cure recessions, will be in dollars
-In 2010, the federal government spend $3.7 trillion, all in dollars. The state governments spent trillions more, also in dollars.

Then there are non-tax payments to the government:
*Fines and Fees (for instance, in court)
*Fees (for instance, garbage pickup)
*Licenses (hunting, fishing, driving)
*Services (real estate registration)
*Tolls

(*Admittedly, these could be eliminated by a Monetarily Sovereign government and could be considered taxes)

Millions of people in America did not pay taxes last year, but they accept dollars. Of course, taxes are not going to disappear, so in practical essence the question is moot.

2. Inflation

I believe inflation can and should be prevented/cured by raising interest rates. MMT holds that rather than curing inflation, raising interest rates actually exacerbates inflation. Their logic is: Raising interest rates, by increasing the cost of borrowing, increases the cost of production, which results in inflation. I suggest that interest payments are a minuscule part of most company’s costs, and increases in interest payments are even less important — not enough to cause significant price increases.

Instead, we should consider money to be a commodity, the value of which is determined by supply and demand. Yes, increase the supply, and the value goes down – unless you also increase the demand, which is influenced by the reward for owning money – i.e. interest. The higher the interest, the greater the demand for money. That is why, when interest rates go up, the demand for non-money (stocks, real estate) declines, while the demand for money (bank CDs, savings accounts, money market accounts) goes up.

MMT believes inflation can and should be prevented/cured by reducing the money supply, i.e by spending reductions and/or tax increases. However, history shows that every depression in U.S history, and most recessions, have coincided with reductions in debt growth or with actual reductions in debt. While recessions and depressions can stop inflation, they certainly are a bad medicine.

So in summary, I agree with the factual basis of MMT, and argue (without proof) against certain opinions held by MMT. If you want to give what I believe a name, call it “Monetary Sovereignty.” I’m not MMT. Are you?

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
http://www.rodgermitchell.com

No nation can tax itself into prosperity. Those who say the stimulus “didn’t work” remind me of the guy whose house is on fire. A neighbor runs with a garden hose and starts spraying, but the fire continues. The neighbor wants to call the fire department, which would bring the big hoses, but the guy says, “Don’t call. As you can see, water doesn’t put out fires.”

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