You can rely on the CRFB to get it wrong. But why?

[Why would any sane person take dollars from the economy and give them to a federal government that has the infinite ability to create dollars?]

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) is a fountain of misinformation, or should we say, “disinformation”?

Clearly, they are providing misinformation, i.e. wrong information, but the real question is, do they know it’s wrong, i.e disinformation?

Because they do extensive data analysis, I believe they simply must know their information is wrong. So why do they promulgate so much nonsense?

Before we answer that question, let’s see what they get wrong. Here are some excerpts from their website.

Gas Tax Holiday Would Take A Wrong Turn
FEB 15, 2022 | TAXES
The White House and some in Congress are reportedly considering suspending the 18.3 cent federal gas tax for the remainder of 2022.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget recently estimated that such a proposal would reduce gas tax revenues by $20 billion and, without the general revenue transfer proposed in recent legislation, would advance the Highway Trust Fund insolvency date from 2027 to 2026.

Assuming their numbers are correct, what they really are saying is: “The proposal would reduce the amount of money taken out of the private sector (also known as ‘the economy’) by $20 billion.”

Adding dollars to the private sector is stimulative: taking dollars out of the private sector is recessive. In short, the reduced gas tax revenues would be a $20 Billion economic stimulus.

The CRFB seems to hate anything that stimulates the economy, especially if it directly benefits the middle- and lower-income groups as a reduced gas tax would do.

Further, the so-called Highway Trust Fund is not a real trust fund (see “The Phony Trust Fund Controversy”) and it cannot become insolvent unless Congress and the President want it to become insolvent.

The U.S. government, the creator of the U.S. dollar, cannot run short of dollars. Thus, no agency of the U.S. government can become insolvent, unless that is what Congress wants.

(Former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan: “A government cannot become insolvent with respect to obligations in its own currency.”)

To prevent the insolvency of any agency, Congress merely passes a law that provides the agency with more dollars. Congress has the infinite ability to pass such laws.

The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

With inflation at a 40-year high, policymakers are appropriately focused on how to bring prices under control.

But new tax cuts aren’t going to stop this inflation; after all, excessive tax cuts and spending are part of what caused high inflation.

Contrary to popular wisdom, no inflation in history ever has been caused by excessive tax cuts or spending. All inflations are caused by shortages of key goods and/or services.

Interest rates (blue) and inflation (green) have trended down, while federal debt (red) has increased.

For the past 10 years, federal deficit spending has increased massively, with minimal inflation. Now, suddenly, inflation has increased. Why?

Clearly, the cause is not deficit spending, otherwise it would have happened sooner.

Inflations are caused by shortages of key goods and services..

Today’s inflation is caused by the sudden confluence of several factors, all shortages: Labor, food, gasoline, computer chips, transportation, sand, among others.

(Yes, I said “sand.” U.S. Shale Production Hindered By Sand Supply Crunch.)

While massive federal spending has been with us for at least a decade, what has changed recently to cause the sudden change in inflation from low to high?

The answer: COVID.

The worldwide impact of the disease has caused the shortages that lead to inflation.

The only thing that will cure the inflation is to cure the shortages. And that can be accomplished by more federal spending to obtain the needed goods and services:

More federal spending to encourage oil drilling and/or renewable energy.
More federal spending to support farming
More federal spending to support chip manufacture
More federal spending to support transportation
More federal spending to support hiring (i.e. the elimination of FICA taxes and the reduction of income taxes at the lower end)

Reduced federal deficit spending will lead only to recessions, as it always has.

Reductions in federal debt growth lead to inflation
When federal deficit spending (blue) is reduced, we have recessions (vertical gray bars), which are cured by increases in federal deficit spending.

While a gas tax holiday might provide some temporary relief, much of the benefit may flow through to oil producers or lead to higher prices in other sectors of the economy.

It makes no sense for low gas prices to cause price increases elsewhere. While low gas prices may cause an increase in demand for cars, every industry would see lower production costs, which will ease inflation.

Benefitting oil producers is not something to be avoided. Financially encouraging them to pump more oil will ease the scarcity of oil.

By boosting demand in an already over-stimulated economy, the holiday would likely boost inflation in 2023 once it ends. The holiday will also undercut the Administration’s efforts to address climate change.

The CFRB would like you to believe the economy is “overstimulated.” No one knows what an “overstimulated” economy means, but it sure sounds terrible, doesn’t it?

Presumably, it means companies are making more profits so that they will hire more people and pay more salaries to the lower- and middle income people, thereby narrowing the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.

Presumably, it means unemployment is low, so there are fewer impoverished children and their parents, again narrowing the Gap between the rich and the rest.

“Gap Psychology” is the desire to widen the Gap below and to narrow the Gap above. All groups are subject to Gap Psychology, but the very rich are the most expert at effecting it.

As for climate change, yes, encouraging more oil production will increase climate change, in the short term. But financially encouraging more use of renewables will have long-term climate benefits.

Meanwhile, the federal government would be out $20 billion this year alone – and much more if the holiday were extended.

The federal government has infinite money. Infinite minus $20 billion, still is infinite. The federal government always will have the infinite ability to write laws, and those laws have the unlimited ability to create dollars.

The CRFB cries crocodile tears for the infinitely rich U.S. government, but no tears for you. They want you to pay the infinitely rich government more of your scarce dollars.

The Highway Trust Fund is just five years from insolvency, and the last thing we need is to cut its primary revenue source or paper over shortfalls with yet another general revenue transfer.

No, the last thing we need is liars telling us that the federal government is running short of its own sovereign currency, so you poor folks need to pony up more dollars, or receive fewer, benefits.

“Insolvency” is the big, fake bogeyman with which the rich try to scare you.

The Big Lie in economics is: “Federal taxes fund federal spending.” While state and local taxes do fund state and local spending, the federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, does not rely on, or even use, tax dollars.

In fact, the U.S. Treasury destroys all tax dollars upon receipt. It creates new dollars, ad hoc, every time it pays a creditor.

(How does the Treasuy destroy tax dollars? The dollars in your checking account are part of the M1 money supply. When the Treasury receives those dollars, they disappear. They no longer are part of any money supply measure. They effectively are destroyed.)

Statement from the St. Louis Fed:
“As the sole manufacturer of dollars, whose debt is denominated in dollars, the U.S. government can never become insolvent, i.e., unable to pay its bills.

In this sense, the government is not dependent on credit markets to remain operational.”

Thus, the federal government has infinite dollars; it can’t run short; and telling people to give the government more and to accept less is just an example of how the Big Lie works.

As it stands, the gas tax will only cover half of highway and transit spending by the time the trust fund runs out.

In fact, the gas tax covers none of transit spending. Those tax dollars are destroyed. All federal spending, including federal transit spending, is funded by ad hoc, federal money creation.

As inflation subsides, we should either raise that tax or find a new funding source to supplement or replace it.

We don’t need to find a new funding source. And we certainly don’t need to raise taxes. The federal government is the best funding source:

Former Fed Chairman 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.”

As we’ve stated, the CRFB, acts repelled by the fact that federal spending helps narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.

A well-designed carbon tax could generate ample tax revenue while substantially reducing carbon emissions and tempering excessive demand.

A well designed carbon tax might be a good idea from an ecological standpoint. But it’s a silly idea if the purpose is to give private sector dollars to a government that has the infinite ability to create dollars.

The pain Americans are feeling at the gas pump – and with rising costs throughout the economy – should be taken seriously and addressed thoughtfully.

The gas price pain will be eased by raising gas taxes??? That’s the utter nonsense the CRFB wants you to believe.

While cutting the gas tax may have political appeal, it would move in exactly the wrong direction, worsening rather than improving our nation’s economic challenges.

The rising costs should be taken seriously, which is why the cost of gasoline should be reduced — by cutting the gas tax.

Inflation takes dollars out of your pocket. The CRFB’s method of taking inflation seriously” is by taking even more dollars out of your pockets via tax increases.

Why does the CRFB act this way?

Because the rich, who run America, also run the CRFB, and support it with donations. The rich and the CRFB want to widen the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.

The rich always wish to be richer. The only way to be richer is to widen the Gap. There are two ways the rich can widen the Gap: Obtain more money for themselves and/or make sure you have less money by paying more taxes.

Either one will make the rich richer, and the CRFB seems to be doing everything it can to reach that goal.

In that vein, I just received this Email from CRFB:

Trust Fund Solutions
Featuring Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Mitt Romney (R-UT)

Committee For a Responsible Federal Budget - Our Maya MacGuineas testified before the House Budget Committee yesterday on fiscal goals. Read her testimony http://crfb.org/papers/maya-macguineas-testimony-setting-fiscal-goal. Watch the video https://www ...
Maya MacGuineas:Paid by the rich to tell you that the federal government’s trust funds soon will be insolvent.

The major government trust funds for Social Security, Medicare, and Highway spending face insolvency in the next decade-and-a-half.

Policymakers need to act sooner rather than later to prevent abrupt across-the-board benefit cuts, assure a more sustainable debt path, promote faster economic growth, and achieve a number of important policy goals.

How raising taxes will help “promote faster economic growth” is a mystery the CRFB never really explains.

Trust Fund Solutions will feature opening remarks from Senator Angus King (I-ME) and a discussion between Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget president Maya MacGuineas.

The event will also feature a panel of experts, one focused on each trust fund.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget will also debut its new Trust Fund Solutions website and educational tools.

You can bet that the “solutions” for the mythical “Trust Funds” will involve tax increases (for which the rich will given loopholes) plus benefit decreases, both of which will widen the Gap between the rich and the rest.

Widening the Gap is what the rich pay the CRFB to do.

SUMMARY
1. The Big Lie in economics is that the U.S. federal government can run short of its own sovereign currency, the U.S. dollar. Not only does the govarnment itself have access to infinite dollars, but no agency of the government can run short of dollars unless Congress and the President want that.

2. The government neither needs nor uses tax dollars, which are destroyed by the Treasury upon receipt.

3. Federal deficit spending never causes inflations (scarcities are what cause inflations). Federal deficit spending can cure inflations by curing scarcities. Reductions in federal deficit spending lead to recessions or depressions.

4. The rich grow richer by widening the Gap between the rich and the rest. Gap widening has two paths: Gaining more for the rich and/or forcing the rest to accept less.

5. The CRFB is paid to aid the rich by convincing the populace to accept Gap widening.

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:

  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
  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.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

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 SOLE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT IS TO IMPROVE AND PROTECT THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE.

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.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

Even Maya MacGuineas admits (sort of) debt ceiling is a hoax

Maya MacGuineas is President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB). This is the right-wing organization that pretends federal taxes grow the economy because the economy has too much money.

Yes, that is what they really believe. They want taxes increased and/or federal spending decreased, both of which remove dollars from the economy.

It’s nuts, I know, but the CRFB has a big following among the politicians and other mentally and morally challenged.

MacGuineas is forever being invited to speak to such people, and her articles are widely published, apparently because people love Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, and other writers of horror fiction.

Unlike them, she is not a particularly good writer. For instance, consider the opening paragraph of her September 10, 2017, Washington Post article, titled “Don’t Get Rid of the Debt Ceiling. Reform It.”

As has happened more than 100 times before, Congress just raised the debt ceiling, the legal amount our government can borrow.

In the past, this act has occurred smoothly, and on many occasions, it has been used productively to spur fiscal efforts from budget deals to process reforms to the creation of a fiscal commission.

The first paragraph tacitly admits that the debt ceiling is useless.

It is based on “total debt,” of which about 25% is money the federal government owes to itself, i.e. one federal agency owes another federal agency.

More importantly, it does not do what it purports to do, i.e. limit federal spending. Congress and the President not only determine federal spending, but they set the debt ceiling.

It’s a process identical with you buying a $20,000 car and then, after the papers have been signed and you have driven off, you decide how much you will pay.  That is the nonsensical debt ceiling.

And then there is the second paragraph, replete with five prepositional clauses and two infinities, all of which mean . . . what? What is Maya trying to say with that garbled mess?

Does she mean the purpose of the debt ceiling is to create a “fiscal commission,” whatever that may be? Or is the purpose to create “budget deals,” which Congress does without debt ceilings, every day it is in session?

If she means that in the past the debt ceiling was good and now it’s bad, she is wrong. It never was good.

But in recent years, the debt-ceiling-as-leverage strategy has been taken too far with absurd and damaging threats to actually allow a default.

Yes, these threats are “absurd and damaging,” but they are the inevitable result of a ridiculous rule that tells Congress to limit what can be paid for what Congress already has purchased.

Debt remains a huge problem and is itself a threat to the economy, slowing growth and creating new risks.

Image result for pants on fireThat is a perfect, succinct statement of “The Big Lie,” the lie that somehow the U.S. government can be unable to pay its bills.

The “huge problem” never has happened, never will not happen, and never can happen, but that fact does not deter MacGuineas from setting her pants on fire.

Federal deficit spending, by federal law, creates the so-called “debt.” And federal deficit spending adds dollars to the economy.  So Maya effectively claims that adding dollars to the economy is a “threat to the economy and slows growth.”

But if adding dollars to the economy “slows growth,” how would MacGuineas explain the fundamental formula for Gross Domestic Product?

GDP = Federal Spending + Nonfederal Spending + Net Exports

If she understands simple algebra, she can see that Federal Spending, Nonfederal Spending, and Net Exports each adds dollars to the economy.  This demonstrates why adding dollars to the economy increases GDP.

Similarly, taxes, which take dollars out of the economy reduce GDP. So the entire notion that debt and/or deficits harm the economy is rank nonsense.

But amazingly, her article gets even worse:

Given that the debt ceiling is the only real check on borrowing, tossing it out without any plan for restraint would continue the fiscal free fall we are already in.

So instead of repealing the debt ceiling, we should reform it.

First, the debt ceiling is not “the only real check on borrowing.”

  1. It doesn’t prevent borrowing. It prevents paying for what already is owed.
  2. Because deficit spending adds dollars to the economy, the resultant “borrowing” grows the economy.
  3. So-called “borrowing” actually is the sale of T-securities, which are very much like deposits in bank savings accounts. They are no burden on the federal government or on taxpayers.  They are paid off by transferring existing dollars from the T-security accounts back to the holders’ checking accounts.
  4. The only “real check on borrowing” (in the unlikely event we will need a check on federal deficit spending) is the Congressional budgeting process. The less deficit spending Congress creates, the less “borrowing.”

And what is the “fiscal free fall” MacGuineas claims we are in? The economy and the “debt” have grown every year since the 2008 recession. “Fiscal free fall”?

No, Maya, the sky is not falling.

Then, temporarily, Maya seems to come to her senses:

One main problem with the debt ceiling is that it gets raised long after the tax and spending decisions that add to the debt are made, allowing policymakers to support adding to the debt while opposing the debt increase itself.

You don’t rein in your family budget by going on a spending spree and then refusing to pay the bill. The restraint has to come earlier in the process.

Well, yes. That isn’t “one main” problem; that is the problem.

And now for her solution, an obfuscating, convoluted plan to save a useless — no, harmful — program:

To address this, Congress could tie the debt ceiling to budget resolutions or any major legislation that adds to the debt.

Thus, Congress would have to vote in favor of lifting the debt ceiling when supporting the policy that necessitates it, which might give legislators more pause before adding to the debt.

Get it? Instead of Congress simply voting on a budget, MacGuineas would have Congress vote on a budget and a corresponding debt ceiling. Two votes.

So, for instance, if Congress voted for a billion dollar budget, it simultaneously would vote for a billion dollar debt ceiling, and thereafter, every time it raised the budget, it would raise the debt ceiling — again, two votes instead of one, and both votes for the same amount.

If that makes financial sense to you, kindly post your bank account numbers and your Social Security number on line for all to see. That would make equal sense.

A second problem is that the height of the debt ceiling is quite arbitrary.

Some level of debt is perfectly fine and, in fact, desirable for a country to have. And the amount of debt we can support depends on the size of the economy.

“Quite arbitrary” means Congress arbitrarily decides on it, which is exactly what the Constitution says Congress does for everything, including budgets.  Perhaps Maya wishes to tell Congress what to do, rather than having them do it “arbitrarily.”

And “‘some‘ level (what level?) is . . . desirable” (why?) But she thinks the “amount of debt we can support depends on the size of the economy.” Complete nonsense.

You and I “support” our debts, but the United States government does not “support” the thing that is misnamed, “debt.” It merely accepts deposits in T-security accounts. It can accept any amount it wishes, and pay back any amount it wishes.

And this has nothing whatsoever to do with the size of the economy. GDP is not the collateral for the federal debt, nor does GDP pay the federal debt. Whether the federal debt was 10% of GDP, or GDP was 10% of the federal debt, would make no difference in the U.S. ability to “support” the debt.

Accordingly, it would make sense to shift measuring the debt ceiling from a specific dollar figure, as we currently measure it, to a share of the economy.

More utter nonsense.

Consider this scenario: We enter a depression, and GDP falls. Curing the depression requires an increase in federal deficit spending, but because the government is limited to a share of a declining GDP, it must cut, rather than increase, deficits.

This leads to further declines in GDP in a never-ending downward economic helix. That is what MacGuineas suggests.

Policymakers could set a glide path to reduce the debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio from today’s postwar-era high; the debt ceiling would only apply when our debt load breaches a set percentage of the economy.

Such a reform would give Congress an incentive to enact fiscally responsible policies to avoid a politically difficult vote to increase the debt ceiling.

To give you a feeling about the idiocy of her comments, here are a few of 2016 Debt/GDP ratios from around the world (Source: tradingeconomics.com).

  1. Japan: 250%
  2. Greece: 179%
  3. U.S.: 106%
  4. France: 96%
  5. United Kingdom: 89%
  6. Germany: 68%
  7. Israel: 61%
  8. Mexico: 48%
  9. Australia: 41%
  10. Russia: 17%

Based on the above ratios, which nations are most, and least, “fiscally responsible“?

Right. There is no relationship between Debt/GDP and “fiscal responsibility.”

Yet another problem with the debt ceiling is that the hammer, in this case, is just too dangerous. Given our past flirtations with the nuclear option of default, it needs to come with an escape valve.

That could take the form of allowing the president to lift the debt ceiling while automatic tax and spending adjustments went into effect until Congress put together its own plan. Or it could take the form of a softer trigger in which the president and Congress submit plans to make improvements to the debt.

The “hammer is too dangerous,” because telling the U.S. not to pay its bills when they are due, is the height of recklessness.

And a final recommendation for Congress and the president: Stop adding more to the debt.

Increases in the debt ceiling are always accompanied by rhetoric decrying the growing level of debt, even though politicians keep voting for more deficit-increasing policies.

The rhetoric comes from but two sources: Those who are ignorant about federal financing or those who are lying about federal financing.

If we ever stop adding to the debt, we will have a depression that makes the Great Depression of 1929 look like a garden party. Want some evidence?

U.S. depressions tend to come on the heels of federal surpluses:
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.

U.S. recessions tend to come on the heels of debt growth reductions, and are cured by debt growth increases:

Debt held by the public, % change from previous year

With our national debt so high, we need a multitrillion-dollar debt-reduction plan that phases in savings from revenue and entitlement reforms.

Wrong. Debt growth (actually, deficit growth) is required for economic growth.

However, in today’s hyperpartisan environment, where politicians assume our fiscal policies come with free lunches, a serious debt deal seems pretty far off.

In fact, federal finances are a perfect example of a “free lunch.” (See:  I just thought you should know, lunch really can be free.)  Clearly, MacGuineas is ignorant or lying about how dollars are created.

Clearly, MacGuineas is one of those who is ignorant or lying about how dollars are created.

In the meantime, we can and should at the very least agree not to adopt new policies that add to the debt. It will require the old-fashioned notion of paying for things.

The federal government has been “paying for things” since its beginnings and never has defaulted. We have grown to 330 million people and $14 Trillion in debt, and we still are “paying for things.”

Maya wants you to believe federal financing is like personal financing, but the two could not be more different. You and I can run short of dollars. The federal government cannot.

Tax reform should be deficit-neutral. Spending plans should be fully paid for. And yes, even emergency spending, which should be passed swiftly, should be paired with plans to cover the costs.

And there, sneaked into the end of her article, MacGuineas reveals what this is all about. “Paired with plans to cover the costs” really means “Cut social spending.” 

Macguineas’s salary is paid by rich people, the .1%, who want nothing more than to widen the Gap between the rich and the rest, by cutting benefits to the 99%.

When claiming federal spending should be reduced, the bribed-by-the-rich pols try to do one of the things: Cut social benefits for the 99%,  or ask for tax increases on the 99%.

Politicians need to stop claiming that their policies are too important to pay for or that they will magically pay for themselves; instead, our lawmakers should start identifying real solutions to offset new costs.

News flash for Maya and her co-conspirators: The federal government always has paid for its policies — never has bounced a check. For 240 years it has been creating dollars, ad hoc, to pay for its spending. 

It’s not broken. Don’t “fix” it.

We shouldn’t depend on a debt ceiling in any form to replace politicians doing their jobs. They need to determine what spending is worthwhile — and then figure out how to pay for it.

Right. Get rid of the debt ceiling. Congress already knows how to pay for its spending.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty

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P.S.: As we said earlier, the only people who agree with MacGuineas fall into two groups: The people who are ignorant about federal financing or the people who are lying on behalf of the rich.

Here is a list of CRFB Board Members. You will recognize some of these names as people who absolutely are not ignorant about federal financing, which will put them in the “other” category:
Mitch Daniels, Leon Panetta, Timothy Penny, Barry Anderson, Erskine Bowles, Charles Bowsher, Kent Conrad, Dan Crippen, Vic Fazio, Bill Gradison, Jr., William Hoagland, James Jones, Lou Kerr, Jim Kolbe, Dave McCurdy, James T. McIntyre, Jr., David Minge, June O’Neill, Paul O’Neill, Marne Obernauer, Jr., Robert Packwood, Rudolph Penner, Peter G. Peterson, Robert Reischauer, Alice Rivlin, Charles Robb, Alan K. Simpson, John Spratt, Charlie Stenholm, Eugene Steuerle, David Stockman, John Tanner, Tom Tauke, Paul Volcker, Carol Cox Wait, Joseph R. Wright, Jr., Maya MacGuineas

Thirty-seven directors, four of whom are women, all of whom are white and all of whom hobnob with the rich and powerful.

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The single most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the have-mores and the have-less.

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 The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:
1. ELIMINATE FICA (Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA )
Although the article lists 10 reasons to eliminate FICA, there are two fundamental reasons:
*FICA is the most regressive tax in American history, widening the Gap by punishing the low and middle-income groups, while leaving the rich untouched, and
*The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor uses FICA to support Social Security and Medicare.
2. FEDERALLY FUNDED MEDICARE — PARTS A, B & D, PLUS LONG TERM CARE — FOR EVERYONE (H.R. 676, Medicare for All )
This article addresses the questions:
*Does the economy benefit when the rich can afford better health care than can the rest of Americans?
*Aside from improved health care, what are the other economic effects of “Medicare for everyone?”
*How much would it cost taxpayers?
*Who opposes it?”
3. PROVIDE A MONTHLY ECONOMIC BONUS TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN AMERICA (similar to Social Security for All) (The JG (Jobs Guarantee) vs the GI (Guaranteed Income) vs the EB (Economic Bonus)) Or institute a reverse income tax.
This article is the fifth in a series about direct financial assistance to Americans:

Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Employer of Last Resort is a bad idea. Sunday, Jan 1 2012
MMT’s Job Guarantee (JG) — “Another crazy, rightwing, Austrian nutjob?” Thursday, Jan 12 2012
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Jobs Guarantee is like the EU’s euro: A beloved solution to the wrong problem. Tuesday, May 29 2012
“You can’t fire me. I’m on JG” Saturday, Jun 2 2012

Economic growth should include the “bottom” 99.9%, not just the .1%, the only question being, how best to accomplish that. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) favors giving everyone a job. Monetary Sovereignty (MS) favors giving everyone money. The five articles describe the pros and cons of each approach.
4. FREE EDUCATION (INCLUDING POST-GRAD) FOR EVERYONE Five reasons why we should eliminate school loans
Monetarily non-sovereign State and local governments, despite their limited finances, support grades K-12. That level of education may have been sufficient for a largely agrarian economy, but not for our currently more technical economy that demands greater numbers of highly educated workers.
Because state and local funding is so limited, grades K-12 receive short shrift, especially those schools whose populations come from the lowest economic groups. And college is too costly for most families.
An educated populace benefits a nation, and benefitting the nation is the purpose of the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to pay for K-16 and beyond.
5. SALARY FOR ATTENDING SCHOOL
Even were schooling to be completely free, many young people cannot attend, because they and their families cannot afford to support non-workers. In a foundering boat, everyone needs to bail, and no one can take time off for study.
If a young person’s “job” is to learn and be productive, he/she should be paid to do that job, especially since that job is one of America’s most important.
6. ELIMINATE FEDERAL TAXES ON BUSINESS
Businesses are dollar-transferring machines. They transfer dollars from customers to employees, suppliers, shareholders and the federal government (the later having no use for those dollars). Any tax on businesses reduces the amount going to employees, suppliers and shareholders, which diminishes the economy. Ultimately, all business taxes reduce your personal income.
7. INCREASE THE STANDARD INCOME TAX DEDUCTION, ANNUALLY. (Refer to this.) Federal taxes punish taxpayers and harm the economy. The federal government has no need for those punishing and harmful tax dollars. There are several ways to reduce taxes, and we should evaluate and choose the most progressive approaches.
Cutting FICA and business taxes would be a good early step, as both dramatically affect the 99%. Annual increases in the standard income tax deduction, and a reverse income tax also would provide benefits from the bottom up. Both would narrow the Gap.
8. TAX THE VERY RICH (THE “.1%) MORE, WITH HIGHER PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES ON ALL FORMS OF INCOME. (TROPHIC CASCADE)
There was a time when I argued against increasing anyone’s federal taxes. After all, the federal government has no need for tax dollars, and all taxes reduce Gross Domestic Product, thereby negatively affecting the entire economy, including the 99.9%.
But I have come to realize that narrowing the Gap requires trimming the top. It simply would not be possible to provide the 99.9% with enough benefits to narrow the Gap in any meaningful way. Bill Gates reportedly owns $70 billion. To get to that level, he must have been earning $10 billion a year. Pick any acceptable Gap (1000 to 1?), and the lowest paid American would have to receive $10 million a year. Unreasonable.
9. FEDERAL OWNERSHIP OF ALL BANKS (Click The end of private banking and How should America decide “who-gets-money”?)
Banks have created all the dollars that exist. Even dollars created at the direction of the federal government, actually come into being when banks increase the numbers in checking accounts. This gives the banks enormous financial power, and as we all know, power corrupts — especially when multiplied by a profit motive.
Although the federal government also is powerful and corrupted, it does not suffer from a profit motive, the world’s most corrupting influence.
10. INCREASE FEDERAL SPENDING ON THE MYRIAD INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT AMERICA’S 99.9% (Federal agencies)Browse the agencies. See how many agencies benefit the lower- and middle-income/wealth/ power groups, by adding dollars to the economy and/or by actions more beneficial to the 99.9% than to the .1%.
Save this reference as your primer to current economics. Sadly, much of the material is not being taught in American schools, which is all the more reason for you to use it.

The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

 

-Open Letter to Maya MacGuineas, President of CRFB

An alternative to popular faith

        On September 23, 2009, Ms. Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, wrote an article titled, “Can Deficits Fix the Economy” (http://crfb.org/blogs/can-deficits-fix-economy). In the article, she agrees on the need for deficit “ . . . spending on public investments . . .” but she expresses concern about the government’s ability to borrow more money. I wrote her the following note:

Ms. MacGuineas,
         In your article, “Can Deficits Fix the Economy,” I’m pleased to see you understand the necessity of federal deficit spending for economic growth. This puts you well ahead of debt hawks like the Concord Coalition, who actually have called for surpluses large enough to eliminate federal debt, demonstrating their misunderstanding of money and its sources.
        Nevertheless, you said, “. . . given how much we have borrowed in the past, there is little room for deficit financing new investments, and I would instead shift our budget by cutting spending on consumption and directing it toward higher levels of public investment. If we had listened to budget scolds in the past, we would have more room on our balance sheet now for government borrowing – unfortunately, we did not.”
         Exactly the same concerns were expressed by many back in 1979, when the debt was less than $800 billion. In the past 30 years, the debt has grown 1,400% and not only does there remain plenty of room on our balance sheets, but the federal government does not need to borrow at all. See the post:
“How to Eliminate All Federal Debt, Deficits and Interest Payments”

        The government borrows by creating T-securities out of thin air, then selling them. The government far more easily could create money out of thin air, and eliminate the borrowing stage. This also would eliminate misguided concerns about our debt and our ability to borrow.

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