Again, claims the US government can run out of US dollars. Liars or fools? You decide.

Here is an easy way to detect economics bullshit: If someone tells you that U.S. federal government spending — any U.S. federal government spending — is “unsustainable” without explaining why, you can be sure that person is a liar or a fool. No exceptions.

“Unsustainable” long has been the word of choice for those who spread fear about federal deficits, federal debt, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, aid to the poor, and everything else the rich don’t like.

But what exactly is “unsustainable” about federal spending? Will the federal government, which created the very first laws out of thin air, and will the laws that created the dollar out of thin air, suddenly be unable to create more dollars out of thin air?

Alan Greenspan: “A government cannot become insolvent with respect to obligations in its own currency.”

When challenged, the liars and fools reluctantly admit, “No, the government can’t run out of dollars, but deficit spending causes inflation.”

We’ve debunked that myth so many times my typing fingers are worn down. See here, here, here, here, and here, and many other places.

The simple and obvious fact is that inflation is not caused by federal deficit spending. And inflation is not caused by interest rates that are too low. The cause of all inflations is scarcities of key goods and services, most notably oil and food.

So the cure for inflation is not to cut federal deficit spending, nor is it to raise interest rates. The treatment for inflation is to cure the scarcities of critical goods and services, most notably energy and food.

How does one cure those inflation-causing scarcities? Federal deficit spending to obtain and provide the scarce goods and services.

Sadly, the Libertarian’s solution to all ills is to claim government spending is “unsustainable.”

Anarchist Movements | Cultural Politics
Libertarianism = Anarchy

Medicare? “Unsustainable.” Social Security? “Unsustainable.” Military spending? “Unsustainable.” Everything the federal government does? “Unsustainable.”

Never mind that we have been “sustaining” huge and growing federal deficit expenditures for more than 80 years, while the economy has grown massively.

When you’re a Libertarian, you hate the government. Period. You are an anarchist.

And here is an example of that, from’s website:

Paul Krugman Says Social Security Is Sustainable. It’s Really Not.
Krugman sees benefit cuts as “a choice” but believes that implementing a massive tax increase on American employers and wo,rkers would be “of course” no big deal.
ERIC BOEHM | 2.23.2023 1Times’sM

For The New York Times’ Paul Krugman, the real crisis facing America’s entitlement programs is that the media isn’t working hard enough to ignore their impending collapse.

“I’ve seen numerous declarations f,rom mainst,ream media that of course Medicare and Social Security can’t be sustained in their present form,” Krugman wrote in a Times op-ed this week. “And not just in the opinion pages.”

Perhaps that’s because the unsustainable trajectories of Social Security and Medicare aren’t a matter of opinion.

They’re factual realities, supported by the most recent annual reports of the programs’ trustees and the independent analysis of the Congressional Budget Office central). Social Security’s main trust fund will hit insolvency somewhere between 2033 and 2035, according to those projeleadingns, while one of the main trust funds in Medicare will be insolvent before the end of this decade.

Have you ever wondered why you never hear worries about the “trust fund” for the military? Or the “trust fund” to support the Supreme Court?

And why no concern about “trust funds” to fund the White House, the Senate or the House of Representatives?

Federal Trust Funds Are Not Real Trust Funds

Here is what the Peter G. Peterson Foundation says about these “trust funds”:

Federal trust funds bear little resemblance to their private-sector counterparts, and therefore the name can be misleading.

A “trust fund” implies a secure source of funding. However, a federal trust fund is simply an accounting mechanism used to track inflows and outflows for specific programs.

In private-sector trust funds, receipts are deposited and assets are held and invested by trustees on behalf of the stated beneficiaries. In federal trust funds, the federal government does not set aside the receipts or invest them in private assets.

Rather, the receipts are recorded as accounting credits in the trust funds and then combined with other receipts that the Treasury collects and spends.

Further, the federal government owns the accounts and can, by changing the law, unilaterally alter the purposes of the accounts and raise or lower collections and expenditures.

Get it? Trust funds aren’t real funds. They are just accounting mechanisms to track inflows and outflows. The federal government owns the books and can change the books at will.

The federal government can change the purposes of the Medicare and Social Security “Trust Funds”; it can add or subtract dollars at will; it can continue to fund Medicare and Social Security in any desired way and in any desired amounts.

The government and its liars and fools wring their hands and claim the trust funds are in danger of insolvency. But no federal agency can become insolvent unless that is what the President and Congress want.

Ben Bernanke: “The U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost.”

The federal government literally has the power to change the account books simply by passing a law. All the bleating and worrying about a federal agency becoming insolvent is a lie.

If the federal government wished, it instantly could add a trillion dollars to the Medicare “trust fund,” and eliminate FICA altogether. Keep in mind: The government owns the books.

When insolvency hits, there will be mandatory across-the-board benefit cuts—for Social Security, that’s likely to translate into a roughly 20 percent reduction in promised benefits.

“Mandatory,” until the government decides it isn’t mandatory.

Alan Greenspan: “The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print the money to do that.”

Nevertheless, Krugman says he’s got a solution that “need not involve benefit cuts.”

His argument boils down to three points. First, Krugman says the CBO’s projections about future costs in Social Security and Medicare might be wrong.

Second, he speculates that they might be wrong because life expectancy won’t continue to increase.

Finally, if those first two things turn out to be at least partially true, then it’s possible that cost growth will be limited to only about 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) ov,er the next three decades and we’ll just raise taxes to cover that.

There never is a need to raise federal taxes. There is no funding need for federal taxes at all. The federal government destroys all tax dollars it receives, and creates new spending dollars, ad hoc.

When you pay your taxes, your dollars come from the M2 money supply measure. When they reach the Treasury, they cease to be part of the M2 money supply or any other money supply measure. They literally are destroyed.

When the federal government spends, it sends instructions (not dollars) to the creditors’ banks, instructing the banks to increase the balances in the creditors’ checking accounts.

This creates the new dollars that are added to the M2 money supply.

The banks clear the instructions through the Federal Reserve preserving the tidy, double-entry bookkeeping.

If you remember just one thing from this post, remember that dollars are not physical things. They are legal, bookkeeping entries, and the federal government controls the laws and the books.

If the government wished, it could eliminate all federal trust funds, or add a trillion dollars to each of them, and it all would just be bookkeeping.

Alan Greenspan: “There is nothing to prevent the federal government from creating as much money as it wants and paying it to somebody.”

“America has the lowest taxes of any advanced nation; given the political will, of course we could come up with 3 percent more of G.D.P. in revenue,” he writes. “We can keep these programs, which are so deeply embedded in American society, if we want to.

Killing them would be a choice.”

Federal taxes do not fund the federal government. The purpose of federal taxes is to control the economy by taxing what the government wishes to discourage and giving tax breaks to what the government wishes to encourage.

The federal government could eliminate all federal taxes, yet continue to spend forever.

It’s notable that Krugman sees benefit cuts as “a choice” but believes that implementing a massive tax increase on American employers and workers would be “of course” no big deal.

But that hardly addresses the substance of what he gets wrong. Let’s take each of his three arguments in order and show why they’re incorrect.

First, he says the CBO’s projections about future costs for the two programs might be inaccurate because the agency is assuming that health care costs will continue to grow faster than the economy as a whole.

At best, that means postponing insolvency by a few years. The structural imbalance between revenues and outlays means that depletion of the trust funds is a question of “when” and not “if,” as this chart from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget makes clear.

The above would be true if the federal government were monetarily non-sovereign, like the states, counties, cities, euro nations, you and me.

We monetarily non-sovereign entities do not have the unlimited ability to create our sovereign currencies. We have no sovereign currencies.

But the U.S. government is absolutely sovereign over the U.S. dollar. It can create as many or as few dollars as it wishes.

It can give those dollars any values it wishes and it can change those values (which it has done many times) at will.

The U.S. dollar is a tool of the U.S. government.

The Libertarians seem ignorant of the difference between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, and thus ignorant of economics

Krugman even concedes that despite a decline in the expected rate of growth in future health care costs, those costs are still expected to rise faster than the economy grows.

Combined with the aging of America’s population, this is a demographic and fiscal time bomb. Ignoring that reality is certainly not a sound policy strategy.

Even if healthcare costs were to triple tomorrow, the federal government could fund Medicare while not collecting a single penny in FICA taxes.

Second, he speculates that mortality rates might continue to drop. While that might be good news from an actuarial perspective, it seems both morally horrifying and incredibly risky to base a long-term entitlement program on the assumption that more people will die at a younger age.

Even if every American retired at 50 and lived to age 200, the federal government could fund Medicare for All, and a generous Social Security for All, again while not collecting a penny if FICA taxes.

In fact, Krugman gets this point exactly backward. Instead of banking on a decline in life expectancy, Congress ought to raise the eligibility age for collecting benefits from Social Security and Medicare.

That would create the same demographic benefits on the accounting side even as people live hopefully longer, better lives.

And there you have it. The Libertarian solution for all government problems is to cut benefits, especially those benefits that aid the poor and middle classes.

The Libertarians refuse to accept this vital truth: The sole purpose of any government is to protect and improve the lives of the governed.

How cutting benefits accomplishes that purpose has yet to be explained.

Krugman would no doubt see such a change as an unacceptable benefit cut, but in reality, it would restore Social Security to its proper role as a safety net for the truly needy, not a conveyer belt to transfer wealth from the younger, working population to the older, relatively wealthier retired population.

The so-called “conveyer belt” would only be true if federal taxes funded federal spending. But they don’t.

Federal taxes fund nothing. FICA could and should be eliminated, while Social Security benefits should be increased.

When Social Security launched in 1935, the average life expectancy for Americans was 61. That’s changed, so the program’s parameters should too.

Yes, Social Security parameters should change. Benefits are too low. FICA should be eliminated.

Finally, the blitheness of Krugman’s actual solution—a massive tax increase—ignores all the knock-on effects of that idea.

Keeping Social Security and Medicare whole will require a tax increase in excess of $1 trillion, which would have massive repercussions on wages, the costs of starting a business, and economic growth in general.

It’s far from an ideal solution.

Keeping Social Security and Medicare whole will require no tax increase at all. The programs are not funded by tax dollars, which are destroyed upon receipt. The programs are funded by laws, and Congress controls the laws.

Paraphrasing’s claim, eliminating FICA would have massive positive effects on wages, the costs of starting a business, and economic growth in general.

In all, Krugman’s column amounts to an argument that his addiction to donuts is totally sustainable as long as someone else agrees to keep buying donuts for him (and as long as he ignores the long-term costs to his health).

Maybe the doctors are wrong about the projected consequences of eating too many donuts. Maybe it will turn out that living longer just isn’t all that great anyway.

But if all else fails, at least he’s got someone else willing to pay for his habit—and making any changes would be tantamount to killing a tradition deeply embedded in the Krugman morning routine. We must take that option off the breakfast table.

The above analogy might make some sense for monetarily non-sovereign governments, but it is completely false for the federal government.

Instead of lying to their readers and constituents, America’s thought and political leaders (not just President Joe Biden and Krugman but lawmakers and media commentators on all sides) should start acknowledging that America’s entitlement programs are not sustainable in their current form.

Instead of lying to their readers and constituents, Libertarians (not just should acknowledge the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty.

Without changes, they will wreck the economy or force many retirees to deal with sudden cuts to benefits they expected to receive. Maybe both.

Waiting to deal with this problem will only make it worse. If Krugman’s column is the best argument for the long-term sustainability of America’s two major entitlement programs, it should only underline how seriously screwed they are.

No, Krugman’s column is not the best argument for long-term sustainability.

Using the facts about Monetary Sovereignty is the absolute guarantee of long-term sustainability.

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 genius of the board game, Monopoly®.

If you have, like I have, spent the most recent 25 years of your life trying to explain to your friends and strangers, something the basics of which an 8-year-old should be able to understand — and like me, you have utterly failed — try using the board game Monopoly® as your example.

First, why do I say 8-year-old? Well, this is the on-line ad:

GREAT FAMILY GAME: This Monopoly board game is fun for families and kids ages 8 and up.

So yes, and 8-year-old can understand Monopoly®.

But, why do I reference Monopoly®?

You, your friends and strangers almost surely have played Monopoly®. Behind chess, checkers, and backgammon, Monopoly® is the world’s most popular board game in history.

So, even the semi-literate universe knows how the game works.

As they will recall, it is a game about buying, improving, renting, and selling real estate. There are players — usually four, plus a Bank.

The players are analogs for the U.S. private sector (aka, “the economy”), and the Bank is an analog for the U.S. Treasury. It doles out money. It collects money that it doesn’t need.

And by law (i.e. by rule), it never can run short of money — just like the Treasury. Here are some of the Monopoly® game’s parallels to reality:

1. The real world and the game use paper “money,” which isn’t really money. The U.S. dollar bill is the title to a dollar,not in of itself a dollar. The actual dollar is merely a bookkeeping notation in the government’s accounting records.

How to play Monopoly without using Monopoly paper dollars. Create a table. THE BANK HAS NO COLUMN BECAUSE IT HAS INFINITE MONEY.

A U.S. dollar has no physical presence. It is just a number in a balance sheet.

Similarly, a Monopoly® paper dollar merely represents game points.

Years ago, I played a game of Monopoly® that did not include any paper “dollars” at all.

We simply used a record of points — a table in which each participant had a column in which his/her winnings and losings were recorded.

The Bank had no column, because the Bank (like the U.S. Treasury), had the infinite ability to create dollars.

Such a column would have made no sense.

The use of the table proves that, like U.S. dollars, Monopoly® dollars have no physical substance. They are just balance sheet numbers.

2. Like the U.S. Treasury, the Monopoly® Bank generally runs a deficit, which is an asset for the private sector.

Just as the U.S. Treasury never can run short of U.S. dollars, the Monopoly® Bank never can run short of Monopoly® dollars.

This is stated in the rules of the game.

Monopoly taxes, which are paid to the Bank, do not fund Band spending. Since the Bank had no column to show how much money it has, all taxes paid to the bank disappear upon payment.

When players pass “GO” and receive $200, no taxpayers are obligated to fund those $200 payments. No one asks, “How will the Bank pay for it?” just as no one should ask, how will the federal government pay for (anything).

3. For historical reasons, based on obsolete gold standards and silver standards, the U.S. federal government keeps track of “deficits” (i.e. the difference between tax income and spending).

In U.S. history, there have been intermittent gold and silver standards, in which the U.S. required itself to store physical gold and silver in dollar amounts equal to those deficits.

“Wait,” you say. “Gold and silver are physical metals, measured in ounces. How can ounces be equal to dollars?”

Answer: The U.S. government, being Monetarily Sovereign, has the unlimited power to fix an ounce of silver and an ounce of gold to equal any number of dollars it wishes.

The government has the unlimited power to fix the price of any commodity vs. the dollar: Iron, corn, cotton, water, oil, etc.

Ever since 1971, when President Nixon took us off the last gold standard, the value of gold vs. dollars has varied wildly.

For that reason, keeping track of deficits no longer is necessary other than to measure dollars going into the economy.

When too few dollars are pumped into the economy we have recessions, and when dollars actually are taken out of the economy we have depressions.

1804-1812: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 48%. Depression began 1807.

1817-1821: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 29%. Depression began 1819.

1823-1836: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 99%. Depression began 1837.

1852-1857: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 59%. Depression began 1857.

1867-1873: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 27%. Depression began 1873.

1880-1893: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 57%. Depression began 1893.

1920-1930: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 36%. Depression began 1929.

1997-2001: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 15%. Recession began 2001.

By contrast, the game of Monopoly® does not keep track of the Bank’s deficits. There is no need to, because the deficits do not affect the Bank’s ability to pay, just as federal deficits do not affect the federal government’s ability to pay.

4. Similarly, neither the Monopoly® Bank nor the federal government ever borrows dollars. Being Monetarily Sovereign, they never need to.

The U.S. Treasury issues Treasury certificates (T-bills, T-notes, T-Bonds), which misleadingly are called “borrowing.”

In a typical borrowing situation, someone needs additional money temporarily, so they borrow it from a lender, and later, pay it back.

But, the federal government, having the unlimited ability to create dollars, never is in a  position in which it needs money.

It has the infinite ability to create money, at the touch of a computer screen. Those T-securities, which misleadingly are labeled “borrowing,” are more akin to safe-deposit boxes, into which depositors place values, and later retrieve them.

The sole differences between T-security accounts and safe deposit boxes are:

a. T-security accounts have a maturity date; safe-deposit boxes do not

b. T-security accounts receive interest; safe deposit boxes do not (although negative interest rates for T-security accounts have been discussed, which would make them even more like safe-deposit boxes.)

The federal government never touches the contents of safe-deposit boxes or of T-security accounts, and to “pay them off,” the owner simply retrieves the contents of the T-security accounts and the safe-deposit boxes.

There is no bank or government obligation to “pay off” safe-deposit boxes or T-security accounts. The sole financial purposes of T-securities are:

a. To provide a safe place to store unused dollars, which stabilizes the dollar

b. To assist the Federal Reserve to control interest rates, which helps control inflation

T-securities do not provide spending funds for the federal government. Every time you think of federal government financing ( which is nothing like state/local government financing) think of the Monopoly® Bank.

That will help you visualize why federal deficits and debt are not a burden on the government or on taxpayers. Compare that with the contents of the following article from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Deficit (CRFB):

The Nation’s Upcoming Fiscal Challenges APR 29, 2021 | BUDGETS & PROJECTIONS
Record Debt Levels: Debt held by the public will total 108 percent of Gross Domestic Product this fiscal year. After the previous record of 106 percent of GDP, set in 1946 just after World War II, policymakers ran years of balanced budgets to bring debt down to manageable levels. We now face large structural deficits and an ever-rising debt-to-GDP ratio.

The “debt” / GDP ratio is meaningless. It predicts nothing. It has nothing to do with the federal government’s ability to pay its debts. It does not say anything about the health of the economy.

The End of Discretionary Spending Caps: Since 2012, discretionary spending caps have been in place (though in practice, these caps have often been increased and in some instances violated).

“Increased” and “violated” because they serve no function.

These caps expire at the end of this fiscal year, leaving appropriators without a legal constraint on discretionary spending and thus creating the opportunity for a spending free-for-all.

Obviously, caps that are “increased” and “violated” are not caps at all, and do nothing to prevent Congress from spending as much as it wishes. Further, there are no economic reasons to restrict Congressional spending. On the contrary, federal spending stimulates economic growth.

Predictable Expirations and Fiscal Deadlines: President Biden’s agenda, like those who came before him, will be in many ways dictated by a series of expirations and deadlines.
This year alone, the country will have to deal with the return of the debt limit (August 1), the end of expanded unemployment benefits (September 6), the expiration of numerous program authorizations (September 30), and the end of the expanded Child Tax Credit and other tax breaks (December 31).

The “debt limit” is one of the least intelligent laws passed by Congress, and that is saying something. The “limit” does not limit debt. It limits payment for debt already contracted.

It’s a “stiff your creditors” law, that has no economic purpose. Zero. Zilch. None. The fact that every time it is reached, Congress raises it, should reveal something to even the least educated among us.

Policymakers must also address the statutory Pay-As-You-Go scorecard if they choose to avoid an across-the-board sequestration. 

“Pay-As-You-Go” is a system by which the federal government would add net zero dollars to the economy, thereby guaranteeing a depression. Not smart, which is why the CRFB likes it.

Major Trust Funds Are Headed Toward Insolvency: Four major trust funds are projected to deplete their reserves within the next 14 years: the Highway Trust Fund in FY 2022; The Medicare Hospital Insurance trust fund in FY 2026; Social Security’s retirement fund in calendar year 2032; and the Social Security Disability Insurance trust fund in calendar year 2035.
Given this tight timeline, all of these trust funds should ideally be secured during President Biden’s time in office.

Just as federal “debt” is not debt, federal “trust funds” are not trust funds, and they cannot “deplete their reserves” unless Congress and the President want them to.

Just as the federal government cannot run short of dollars, no agency of the federal government can run short of dollars, again, unless Congress and the President want them to.

See if you can learn when the non-existent trust funds for the military, the Supreme Court, the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives will face insolvency. Oh, they have no trust funds? Ask yourself, “Why not?”

IN SUMMARY The board game, Monopoly®, is similar to the U.S. economy.

The Monopoly® Bank resembles the U.S. government, and the Monopoly® players resemble the U.S. economy.

Just as the Monopoly® Bank never can run short of dollars, the U.S. government never can run short of dollars.

Just as the Bank does not borrow dollars, the U.S. government does not borrow dollars.

Federal Treasury securities, misnamed “borrowing,” actually are similar to safe deposit boxes. Just as your bank doesn’t touch what you put into your safe deposit box, the federal government doesn’t touch what you put into your T-security account.

To “pay off” that misnamed “debt,” the federal government simply allows you to take back the contents of your T-security account, in the same way as you would take back the contents of your safe deposit box. No tax payers or tax dollars are involved.


Rodger Malcolm Mitchell [ Monetary Sovereignty, Twitter: @rodgermitchell, Search: #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell ]


  • 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:

  1. Eliminate FICA
  2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone
  3. Social Security for all
  4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone
  5. Salary for attending school
  6. Eliminate federal taxes on business
  7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually.
  8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.
  9. Federal ownership of all banks
  10. 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.


How To Prevent Economic Growth, by Maya MacGuineas of CRFB

No one can do a better job of describing how to thoroughly destroy the American economy than Maya MacGuineas, head of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB).  She not only writes articles for the CRFB web site, but she often is invited to spew her wisdom before Congress. She is a true celebrity in Washington.

To give you a taste of her acumen, here are excerpts from an Email I just received from her:

Wed, Oct 7 at 8:29 AM, The Cost of the Trump and Biden Campaign Plans

Whoever is inaugurated on January 20, 2021, will face many fiscal challenges over his term.

Under current law, trillion-dollar annual budget deficits will become the new normal, even after the current public health emergency subsides.

Meanwhile, the national debt is projected to exceed the post-World War II record high over the next four-year term and reach twice the size of the economy within 30 years.

For reasons never explained, MacGuineas repeatedly compares the national “debt” (i.e. the federal “debt”), with Gross Domestic Product.

The former is nothing more than the total of deposits into Treasury Security accounts; the latter is total spending in America. The two are not directly related, co-dependent or in any way comparable.

The federal government could stop accepting deposits into T-security accounts tomorrow, at which time the so-called “debt” would begin to shrink to $0 — and this would have no effect on GDP. Or the government could accept twice as much in deposits, and this too would have no effect on GDP.

So her complaint that these deposits will “reach twice the size of the economy” is meaningless, meant more to shock you than to educate you.

Four major trust funds are also headed for insolvency, including the Highway and Medicare Hospital Insurance trust funds, within the next presidential term.

What MacGuineas (and many others) misleadingly term “trust funds” are not trust funds. They are nothing more than bookkeeping accounts that are 100% controlled by the federal government. These accounts cannot become insolvent unless Congress wants them to become insolvent.

The federal government, which has the unlimited power to create U.S. dollars, along with the unlimited power to change its bookkeeping, can put any numbers it wishes into those accounts, any time it wishes.

The federal government arbitrarily could decide to double or triple the balances in these so-called “trust fund” accounts, and as if by magic, the numbers would double, and MacGuineas could stop fretting.

Whenever you see or hear the words, “federal trust funds,” know you are not being told the truth. Though even federal sites refer to “trust funds,” these are like the Bank in the game of Monopoly™: Changeable according to the players’ desires.

Fiscal irresponsibility prior to the pandemic worsened structural deficits that were already growing due to rising health and retirement costs and insufficient revenue.

It is not fiscally irresponsible for the federal government to spend more. On the contrary, not spending more would be fiscally irresponsible. Federal deficit spending grows the economy, and insufficient federal deficit spending shrinks the economy.

The country’s large and growing national debt threatens to slow economic growth, constrain the choices available to future policymakers, and is ultimately unsustainable.

The above sentence is diametrically wrong. False complaints about the national “debt” being a ticking time bomb,” have been voiced since 1940, while the economy has grown massively.

MacGuineas herself has been making the same wrong predictions continually. and for many, many years, but has learned nothing from her predictive failures.

Yet neither presidential candidate has a plan to address the growth in debt. In fact, we find both candidates’ plans are likely to increase the debt.

Under current law, the so-called “debt” results from federal deficit spending, which pumps stimulus dollars into the economy. MacGuineas opts to remove dollars from the economy by running federal surpluses. She ignores the fact that removing dollars from the economy causes recessions and depressions.

A growing economy requires a growing supply of money. Federal deficit spending increases the supply of money, which grows the economy.

The formula for GDP is: GDP = Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports. All these terms are related to the money supply in the United States.

Under our central estimate, we find President Donald Trump’s campaign plan would increase the debt by $4.95 trillion over ten years and former Vice President Biden’s plan would increase the debt by $5.60 trillion.

Debt would rise from 98 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) today to 125 percent by 2030 under President Trump and 128 percent under Vice President Biden, compared to 109 percent under current law.

Despite MacGuenias’s hand-wringing, both plans are insufficient to grow GDP over time. An average of 1/2 trillion dollars in deficit spending in a $20 trillion economy, amounts to only 5% per year, a level that on average, has led to recessions.


Vertical gray lines are recessions. Year to year reductions in federal “debt” growth lead to recessions, while increases in federal “debt” cure recessions.

President Donald Trump has issued a 54 bullet point agenda that calls for lowering taxes, strengthening the military, increasing infrastructure spending, expanding spending on veterans and space travel, lowering drug prices, expanding school and health care choice, ending wars abroad, and reducing spending on immigrants. He also has proposed a “Platinum Plan” for black Americans, which increases spending on education and small businesses.

Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden has proposed a detailed agenda to increase spending on child care and education, health care, retirement, disability benefits, infrastructure, research, and climate change, while lowering the costs of prescription drugs, ending wars abroad, and increasing taxes on high-income households and corporations.

Which of the above proposals does MacGuineas suggest should be eliminated?

She never says. She decries deficit spending while not saying where the deficit spending should be reduced. Why is she so reticent? Because she probably understands the economic need for federal deficit spending, but she is paid to deny it.

That is why she has been mouthing the same tripe for so many years.

Debt has already grown from 39 percent of the economy in 2008 to 76 percent in 2016, and is estimated to reach 98 percent by the end of FY2020.
Under current law, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects debt will continue to rise to 109 percent of GDP by 2030.

Our central estimate of the Trump plan finds debt would rise to 125 percent of the economy by 2030, excluding the effects of further COVID relief. Under our central estimate of the Biden plan, debt would rise to 128 percent of the economy by 2030, again excluding COVID proposals.

Then next few paragraphs of MacGuineas’s letter comprise an endless recitation of “debt” as a percentage of “the economy” (GDP), all with the tacit — and completely wrong — assumptions that a low ratio is a good ratio, and a high ratio is a bad ratio.

Here is a list showing the Debt/GDP ratio for many nations:

Based solely on the percentages, which nations would you expect to have the healthiest and/or strongest economies”?

Japan 237.54%, Venezuela 214.45%, Sudan 177.87%, Greece 174.15%,
Lebanon 157.81%, Italy 133.43%, Eritrea 127.34%, Cape Verde 125.29%,
Mozambique 124.46%, Portugal 119.46%, Barbados 117.27%, Singapore 109.37%,
United States 106.70%, Bhutan 103.85%, Cyprus 101.04%, Bahrain 100.19%,
Belgium 99.57%, France 99.20%, Spain 95.96%, Jordan 94.83%, Jamaica 94.13%,
Belize 92.64%, Angola 90.46%, Brazil 90.36%, Republic Of The Congo 90.19%,
Antigua And Barbuda 88.35%, Canada 88.01%, Egypt 86.93%, United Kingdom 85.67%,
Aruba 83.57%, Sri Lanka 82.99%, Tunisia 81.55%, Mauritania 80.61%, Zambia 80.50%,
Dominica 79.84%, Gambia 78.67%, San Marino 77.12%, Pakistan 77.00%, Argentina 75.90%,
Sao Tome And Principe 74.10%, Sierra Leone 72.37%, Suriname 72.05%,
Saint Lucia 71.62%, Saint Vincent And The Grenadines 71.38%, Uruguay 71.34%,
Austria 71.17%, Croatia 70.73%, Montenegro 70.58%, Togo 70.39%, India 69.04%,
El Salvador 68.10%, Mauritius 67.50%, Hungary 66.62%, Slovenia 65.44%, Albania 65.13%,
Morocco 65.11%, Laos 64.13%, Burundi 63.54%, Djibouti 62.99%, Ireland 62.42%,
Ukraine 62.03%, Senegal 62.00%, Ghana 61.99%, Maldives 61.43%, Oman 61.29%,
Bahamas 60.49%, Nauru 60.39%, Finland 59.88%, Saint Kitts And Nevis 59.49%,
Malawi 59.01%, Israel 58.96%, Gabon 58.48%, South Africa 57.81%, Puerto Rico 57.70%,
Ethiopia 57.43%, Vietnam 57.36%, Guyana 57.22%, Bolivia 57.11%, Germany 56.93%,
Malaysia 56.32%, Costa Rica 56.15%, Grenada 56.12%, Kyrgyzstan 56.09%, Niger 55.60%,
Kenya 55.50%, China 55.36%, Guinea Bissau 54.92%, Yemen 54.51%, Seychelles 54.49%,
Mexico 54.11%, Benin 54.00%, Qatar 52.74%, Vanuatu 52.18%, Netherlands 52.04%,
Namibia 51.60%, Belarus 51.08%, Serbia 50.95%, Ivory Coast 50.92%, Iraq 50.25%,
Fiji 50.22%, Rwanda 50.00%, Trinidad And Tobago 49.75%, Tajikistan 49.46%,
Samoa 49.44%, Ecuador 49.20%, Colombia 49.16%, Armenia 47.95%, Poland 47.48%,
Algeria 46.92%, Slovakia 46.90%, Liberia 46.66%, Guinea 45.98%, Georgia 45.05%,
Uganda 44.81%, Chad 42.91%, Burkina Faso 42.47%, Malta 42.46%,
Central African Republic 42.25%, Dominican Republic 41.92%, Thailand 41.47%,
Eswatini 41.11%, Australia 41.10%, Madagascar 41.02%, Nicaragua 40.88%,
Honduras 40.80%, South Korea 40.54%, North Macedonia 40.48%, Switzerland 39.49%,
Myanmar 39.19%, Philippines 39.10%, Cameroon 38.11%, Romania 37.99%, Lesotho 37.95%,
South Sudan 37.81%, Panama 37.81%, Papua New Guinea 37.72%, Equatorial Guinea 37.49%,
Sweden 37.23%, Mali 36.93%, Norway 36.75%, Latvia 36.66%, Tanzania 36.57%,
Bosnia And Herzegovina 36.34%, Haiti 36.23%, Comoros 35.08%, Bangladesh 34.81%,
Taiwan 33.91%, Lithuania 33.79%, Denmark 33.61%, Iceland 33.13%, Nepal 33.07%,
Czech Republic 31.57%, Turkmenistan 30.25%, Nigeria 30.05%, Iran 30.04%, Turkey 29.93%,
Cambodia 29.57%, Indonesia 29.29%, Moldova 28.82%, New Zealand 28.07%, Peru 27.18%,
Chile 27.17%, Guatemala 24.76%, Saudi Arabia 23.71%, Kiribati 23.48%,
Marshall Islands 23.37%, Uzbekistan 23.23%, Paraguay 22.37%, Tuvalu 21.81%,
Luxembourg 21.61%, Zimbabwe 20.99%, Kazakhstan 20.90%, Bulgaria 19.33%,
United Arab Emirates 19.20%, Micronesia 18.41%, Kuwait 17.78%, Azerbaijan 17.59%,
Solomon Islands 14.56%, Dr Congo 14.01%, Russia 13.79%, Botswana 12.78%, Estonia 7.61%,
Afghanistan 6.88%, Brunei 2.63%

If you say there seems to be no relationship between “debt” and GDP you would be correct, for several reasons:

  1. Some nations are Monetarily Sovereign, which means they have the unlimited ability to create their own sovereign currency. Any liability denominated in their own currency is serviced simply by creating new currency. They cannot become insolvent if they owe their own currency.
  2. Some nations are monetarily non-sovereign, which like you, me, the euro nations, and all local governments, cannot arbitrarily create money, and so can become insolvent.
  3. The word “debt” means something entirely different, depending on what is owed, and why. If the “debt” consists of optional deposits, as does America’s, Japan’s, Canada’s, Australia’s, and the UK’s, paying it off merely requires returning the money on deposit.
  4. But if the debt is necessary for the purchase of goods and services, like state and local government debt, then taxpayers must fund it, or the government will become insolvent.
  5. If the “debt” adds net money to the economy, as with Monetarily Sovereign governments, it will grow the economy.
  6. But, if the debt must be paid by taxpayers, which subtracts net money, as is the case with monetarily non-sovereign governments. it will shrink the economy.

Conclusion: Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent global economic crisis, the federal government was on an unsustainable fiscal path.

Under our central estimate, neither major candidate for President of the United States in 2020 has put forward a plan that would address our unsustainable fiscal path.

The favorite word used by debt critics is “unsustainable.” They never explain what they mean by that word.

Does it mean the U.S. government will run short of dollars? No, that is impossible. The government has the unlimited ability to create dollars at the touch of a computer key.

Does “unsustainable” mean other nations will not lend to the U.S.? No, the U.S. never borrows from other nations. What erroneously is termed “borrowing.” actually is the acceptance of deposits, which has two purposes:

  1. To provide a safe, parking place for unused dollars, which helps stabilize the dollar.
  2. To assist the Fed in controlling interest rates.

Neither purpose has anything to do with the federal government acquiring dollars. The U.S. government does not need to “acquire” dollars. It creates all the dollars it needs. Those dollars on deposit never are touched. They merely are returned when the T-certificates mature.

Does unsustainable mean people will refuse to use the U.S. dollar? No, Despite an 80-year supply increase of more than 50,000%, the U.S. dollar remains a trusted currency. No knowledgeable person fears U.S. insolvency.

So what does the oft-used term unsustainable mean? It is a term that has no specific meaning, but is used to hint at some dark, unspecified, future event, to make you believe the federal debt is too high, without your knowing why.

This high and rising debt could have significant economic, generational, fiscal and distributional consequences.

What are the consequences of a high and rising debt? Answer: Economic growth and prosperity.

Addendum: As I write this, I am watching the so-called debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence. It isn’t a debate so much as a performance, but one thing struck me: The both repeat the Big Lie that federal government financing is like state/local government financing.

They both claim that federal taxes fund federal spending, and the “How will you pay for it?” question needs be answered via a complex, convoluted, Byzantine explanation involving increased taxes and money transfers.

The real answer: The federal government will do what it always has done: It will create new dollars, ad hoc, every time it pays a bill. It’s called “Monetary Sovereignty.”

It is the way, the only way, the U.S. economy has grown and will continue to grow.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

Monetary Sovereignty Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..


The most important problems in economics involve:

  1. Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
  2. 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:

  1. Eliminate FICA
  2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone
  3. Social Security for all or a reverse income tax
  4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone
  5. Salary for attending school
  6. Eliminate federal taxes on business
  7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 
  8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.
  9. Federal ownership of all banks
  10. 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.