What are the purposes of the federal gas tax, FICA and federal income tax?

Question: What are the purposes of the federal gas tax, FICA, and federal income tax?

Answers:

  1. The federal government and states both impose gas taxes, with much of the revenue raised going toward fixing highways and other infrastructure projects.
  2. The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) is a U.S. law that mandates a payroll tax on the paychecks of employees, as well as contributions from employers, to fund the Social Security and Medicare programs.
  3. Tax revenue allows the government to operate and provide goods and services for citizens. These goods and services include roads, bridges, national parks, education, research and national defense.

The answers to the questions can be summarized as: The purpose of federal taxes is to fund federal spending. You can find these answers at the indicated links and in thousands of places on the Internet, except . . .

. . . the answers are wrong. Federal taxes fund nothing. 

 

 

 

Status of Major Federal Trust Funds
Dates “trust funds” supposedly will exhaust their cash, except it’s all a lie. The “trust funds” are not real trust funds, and there is no cash. Congress and the President have total control over all spending, which is done with newly created dollars, ad hoc. The government never can run short of dollars.

State and local taxes stay in the economy (aka, the private sector). They are deposited in private banks and then are used to fund state and local spending.

But federal taxes are destroyed upon receipt. They no longer stay in the economy. They no longer are part of the money supply measure M2. They cease to exist.

This fact is not understood by the vast majority because of the erroneous communications sent every day.

I. The Purpose of the Federal Gas Tax

Biden says decision on gas tax holiday may come this week
Aamer Madhani and Josh Boak
Associated Press
REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP) — The administration is increasingly looking for ways to spare the public from higher prices at the pump, which began to climb last year and surged after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

The Biden administration has already released oil from the U.S. strategic reserve and increased ethanol blending for the summer, in additional to sending a letter last week to oil refiners urging them to increase their refining capacity.

Yet those efforts have yet to reduce price pressures meaningfully, such that the administration is now considering a gas tax holiday. Taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel help to pay for highways.

There it is, the Big Lie that federal taxes pay for things. 

The government, being Monetarily Sovereign, has the infinite ability to create its own sovereign currency, the U.S. dollar. 

The federal government never unintentionally can run short of dollars. Even if total federal tax collections equaled $0, the federal government could continue spending, forever. The federal government already has unlimited dollars to pay for highways.

Given that simple fact, there is no reason why the federal government would need to collect taxes for spending. The sole function of the federal gas tax is to discourage driving. It’s an effort to reduce gasoline usage.

And that is the fundamental difference between federal finances vs. state/local government finances. State and local governments can and do run short of dollars. Their taxes do fund spending.

Federal taxes have only one purpose: Taxes discourage what the government wants to limit, and tax breaks encourage what the government wants to grow.

The Penn Wharton Budget Model released estimates Wednesday showing that consumers saved at the pump because of gas tax holidays in Connecticut, Georgia and Maryland. 

Sadly, the state and local governments, which do not have the infinite ability to create dollars are doing what the federal government should have done.

In an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed an openness to a federal gas tax holiday to give motorists some relief.

Oil refiners say their ability to produce additional gas and diesel fuel is limited, meaning that prices could remain high unless demand starts to wane.

The gas tax holiday would encourage driving, but this would reduce supplies, thereby increasing prices. Clearly, Janet Yellen has no plan for reducing inflation.

In all fairness, however, reducing inflation requires reducing shortages of key goods and services, and that is Congress’s job, not the Fed’s.

Only Congress has the power to increase supplies of scarce goods and services.

The American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers sent a joint letter to Biden on Wednesday that said refineries are operating near their maximum capacityalready and nearly half of the capacity taken off line was due to the facilities converting to renewable fuel production.

A gas tax holiday would make the scarcity situation worse, although there would be an economic benefit to not removing dollars from the economy.

“Today’s situation did not materialize overnight and will not be quickly solved,” the letter said. “To protect and foster U.S. energy security and refining capacity, we urge to you to take steps to encourage more domestic energy production,” including new infrastructure and reducing regulatory burdens.

That letter does indicate one of the steps the federal government should take to fight inflation: Take steps to encourage more domestic energy production,” including new infrastructure.

Last week, the Federal Reserve stepped up its drive to tame inflation by raising its key interest rate by three-quarters of a point — its largest increase in nearly three decades — and signaled more large rate increases to come.

The cause of inflation is shortages of gas, oil, foods, shipping, computer chips, lumber, housing, and labor. An increase in interest rates will not address any of those causes.

II. The purpose of FICA

The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) is a U.S. law that mandates a payroll tax on the paychecks of employees, as well as contributions from employers, to fund the Social ecurity and Medicare programs.

Wrong again. Federal taxes fund nothing.

The sole purpose of FICA, as told by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was so that “no damn politician can ever scrap my Social Security program” (because it is an earned benefit ostensibly funded by the workers themselves.) FICA is not economics. FICA is psychology.

Sadly, rather than protecting Social Security, FICA and its fake “trust funds” have been an excuse for reducing benefits.

Social Security has undergone significant changes since Fuller received her first check, including the addition of disability benefits in 1956. Today, 59 million retired workers, spouses, disabled workers and survivors get monthly payments averaging $1,194.

The latest overhaul came in 1983, when Social Security was on the brink of insolvency. Congress increased payroll taxes, cut benefits and gradually extended the age when retirees can claim full benefits.

The changes shored up Social Security’s finances so it could absorb the initial wave of retiring baby boomers.

The preceding paragraphs demonstrate the lie about Social Security being paid by “trust funds.”

Social Security was “on the brink of insolvency” only because Congress and President Reagan wanted to cut benefits. Otherwise, they merely could have authorized additional federal payments to the program, just as they do when the Army needs more money.

In a real “trust fund,” the trustees (the government) could not arbitrarily add disability benefits. In a real trust fund, the trustee could not arbitrarily extend the age for claiming full benefits. In a real trust fund, the trustee could not arbitrarily invent new rules about working people receiving or not receiving benefits.

Social Security is nothing more than a government agency, and like all other government agencies, it rises or falls on the whim of Congress and the then-current President.

In that sense, it is no different from the military, NASA, or the FBI, except none of them are limited by a fake “trust fund.”

III. The purpose of federal income taxes.

You can spend your life searching sources, and the vast majority will tell you something like this one:

“Taxes (in all their various forms) are the revenue stream that a government needs to provide the services that its citizenry demand of it. If you want the government to perform some action, well, it needs some money to pay for it. Taxes are how we do that.”

The first clue that the author doesn’t know what he or she is talking about comes from the words, “a government.” The tacit assumption is that the finances of a monetarily sovereign government are the same as the finances of a monetarily non-sovereign government.

The former are money creators like the governments of the U.S., Canada, the UK, Mexico, Australia, et al. The latter are money users like the governments of Illinois, Chicago, France, Italy, et al.

Money creators cannot run short of their own sovereign currency, and for that reason they neither need nor use tax. 

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

The U.S. government cannot run short of dollars. Similarly, the Canadian, UK, Mexican, Australian etc. government cannot run short of their currencies.

By contrast, money users like the Illinois and Chicago governments can run short of dollars, and the governments of France, Italy, etc. can run short of euros. So they need to collect taxes. That is the way they acquire euros.

In further contrast, the European Union is monetarily sovereign. It cannot run short of euros.

Press Conference: Mario Draghi, former President of the European Central Bank, 9 January 2014
Question: “I am wondering: can the ECB ever run out of money?”
Mario Draghi: “Technically, no. We cannot run out of money.”

Since federal taxes do not fund federal spending, why does the federal government collect them? 

The purposes of U.S. federal taxes are.

1. To narrow the gap between the rich and the rest. An overly wide gap gives the rich too much power in any economy, so tax rates take income into consideration, with increased rates for increased income.

Unfortunately, this purpose is followed more in the breach than in reality, because the rich have managed to distort tax collections in their favor. One outstanding example is Donald Trump, who despite being a billionaire, did not pay any federal taxes at all in 8 of the past 10 years.

2. To control the economy by taxing what the government wishes to discourage and giving tax breaks to what the government wishes to discourage.

A partial example is the gasoline tax which to a very small degree discourages gasoline usage. “Sin” taxes on cigarettes and alcohol fall into this category.

And then there is the real purpose of federal taxes:

3. To make the unwary populace believe that federal deficit spending is harmful so, federal benefits must be limited or taxes must be increased.

This is the insidious Big Lie promulgated by the rich, to widen the Gap between them and the rest of the people.

It is the reason why you repeatedly are told that the Social Security “trust fund” pays SS benefits, and the Medicare “trust fund” pays Medicare benefits, and both are running short of money. Neither of the so-called “trust funds” are real trust funds. Neither pays benefits and neither can run short of money unless Congress and the President want them to run short.

As with all federal agencies, the federal government pays for everything by creating new dollars, ad hoc.

In perhaps overly simple terms, it works like this for Social Security:

  • An agency of the federal government creates instructions (check or wire) from thin air and sends these instructions to your bank
  • Your bank is instructed to increase the balance in your checking account.
  • When your bank obeys those instructions, dollars are created and added to the M1 money supply. 
  • Your bank then “clears” (gets approval) the instructions through the Federal Reserve, which also is an agency of the federal government.

Thus, the circle is completed with one agency of the federal government’s approving the dollar-creation instructions by another agency of the federal government.

That is why federal checks don’t bounce. The federal government approves its own instructions.

Compare that to an agency of a state or local government. It too sends instructions to banks, and the banks obey those instructions. But when the banks try to clear the instructions through the Federal Reserve, the instructions will bounce unless the state or local government’s accounts have sufficient reserves.

For state/local governments, there is no self-approval system of dollar payments.

Actual dollar creation is done by banks at the instruction of the federal government. Those green paper Federal Reserve Notes printed by the Treasury are not in themselves, dollars. They are bearer titles to dollars.

Just as a house title document is not a title — it’s just a piece of paper — until it refers to a specific house, a dollar bill is just a piece of paper until it refers to a specific dollar on the government’s balance sheets.

Dollars are like laws.  They have no physical existence. You can’t hear, feel, smell, taste, or see a law or a dollar.

Dollars are only numbers on balance sheets. The Treasury provides banks with Federal Reserve Notes which merely are titles to dollars.

Banks use Federal Reserve Notes (dollar bills) as a substitute for increasing numbers in accounts. People use Federal Reserve Notes as titles to dollars that exist only as numbers on federal balance sheets.

For example, if you were to use dollar bills to purchase a car, you would exchange your title to dollars for the title to the car. The car seller then would own the dollar titles, proving he owned the numbers on the government’s books, and you would own the car title proving you own the car.

 

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty

Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

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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

Do you understand how “The Big Lie” affects you and everyone else? The answer is here.

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

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.”

Quote from Ben Bernanke when, as Fed chief, he was on 60 Minutes:
Scott Pelley: Is that tax money that the Fed is spending?
Ben Bernanke: It’s not tax money… We simply use the computer to mark up the size of the account.

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.”

Press Conference: Mario Draghi, President of the (Monetarily Sovereign) ECB, Question: I am wondering: can the ECB ever run out of money? Mario Draghi: Technically, no. We cannot run out of money.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

The Big Lie in economics, simply stated is: The U.S. government unintentionally can run short of U.S. dollars.

In 1792, the U.S. government created the first U.S. dollars from thin air. It arbitrarily passed laws that created as many dollars as it wished, and gave those dollars the value it wished.

Since then, the U.S. government continues to create U.S. dollars, and it arbitrarily has changed the value of the dollar many times.

Since its founding in 1776, the United States has had a variety of monetary systems including bimetallic systems where the dollar was backed by both gold and silver (1792-1862), a fiat monetary system (1862-1879), a full gold standard (1879-1933), and a partial gold standard (1933-1971).

Each new system changed the value of the dollar.

A Billion Dollars Was Transferred Over Venmo In January | Money cash, Money stacks, Investing
The federal government has the infinite ability to create dollars, without inflation.

From 1971 to present the United States has been on a fiat monetary standard.

The U.S. government can create laws from thin air, and those laws can create dollars from thin air. The U.S. government cannot unintentionally run out of laws or dollars.

For that reason, no agency of the U.S. government can run out of dollars unless Congress and the President wish it.

Any time you hear or read about the U.S. government not being able to “afford’ some expenditure, or about some federal agency running short of funds, or about federal taxes needing to be increased, you are subject to The Big Lie.

Being Monetarily Sovereign, the federal government neither needs, nor even uses, tax dollars to fund its spending. It creates dollars by spending; that is its primary dollar-creation method.

Similarly, any time you read or hear that the federal “debt” is unsustainable, or the federal deficit is “unaffordable,” you are being told The Big Lie.

Here is an article that exemplifies The Big Lie you are expected to believe:

Go-broke dates pushed back for Social Security, Medicare
The annual Social Security and Medicare trustees report says Social Security’s trust fund will be exhausted in 2035, instead of last year’s estimate of 2034. 
By Fatima Hussein and Tom Murphy Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A stronger-than-expected economic recovery from the pandemic has pushed back the go-broke dates for Social Security and Medicare, but officials warn that the current economic turbulence is putting additional pressures on the bedrock retirement programs.

The annual Social Security and Medicare trustees report released last week said Social Security’s trust fund will be unable to pay full benefits beginning in 2035, instead of last year’s estimate of 2034.

The year before that it estimated an exhaustion date of 2035. The projected depletion date for Medicare’s trust fundfor inpatient hospital care moved back two years to 2028 from last year’s forecast of 2026.

In the post titled, “’Wolf,’ ‘The sky is falling.’ ‘Social Security and Medicare will be insolvent'” you read why the Medicare and Social Security so-called “trust funds” are not trust funds at all, but rather are mere balance sheet notations on the government’s books — notations that the federal government can change at will.

You might ask, “How is it possible for an agency of a government to run short of the dollars the government has the infinite ability to create.”

The answer: It isn’t possible unless that is what the government wants.

If Congress and the President wanted Medicare and Social Security to pay more benefits, they simply would pass a law mandating Medicare and Social Security to pay more benefits.

And, if Congress and the President wanted to reduce or even eliminate the FICA tax, they would pay for the mandate the same way they pay for the military and all other federal expenses: By writing checks. No tax dollars are involved.

And if Congress and the President wanted the nation to have free, no-deductible, comprehensive Medicare for every man, woman, and child in America, they could do that by passing laws. No tax dollars necessary.

And if Congress and the President wanted every man, woman, and child in America to receive Social Security — even with triple the current benefit levels — they could pass the appropriate law. Again, no tax dollars need to be collected.

The article continues:

“Economic recovery from the 2020 recession has been stronger and faster than assumed in last year’s reports, with positive effects on the projected actuarial status of the trust funds in these reports,” the report states.

The “actuarial status” assumes the FICA tax funds Medicare and Social Security “trust funds.” It doesn’t. FICA funds nothing. FICA,indeed all federal taxes are destroyed upon receipt.

(This is not true of state/local taxes, which remain in the economy.)

The federal government funds Medicare and Social Security by creating new dollars, ad hoc.

President Joe Biden said in a statement that the report “shows that the strong economic recovery driven by my economic and vaccination plans has strengthened programs that millions of Americans rely on and has put our nation in a better fiscal position.”

The U.S. cannot be “in a better fiscal position”; it already is in a perfect fiscal position. The government has zero fiscal need for taxes. Even without taxes, the federal government has the infinite ability to pay any bills it ever receives.

Social Security pays benefits to more than 65 million Americans, mainly retirees as well as disabled people and survivors of deceased workers.

Medicare covers roughly 64 million older and disabled people.

When the Social Security trust fund is depleted, the government will be able to pay 80% of scheduled benefits, the report said.

Medicare will be able to pay 90% of total scheduled benefits when the fund is depleted.

Wrong. The government already pays 100% of benefits and will be able to pay 100% of future benefits, no matter how many people are collecting benefits or how large those benefits prove to be.

All dollars sent to the U.S. Treasury are destroyed upon receipt.

Income for Medicare’s hospital insurance fund is projected to be higher than estimates from last year because the number of covered workers who help fund it and their average wages are both expected to be higher.

Income is irrelevant for a government that has the infinite ability to create dollars.

A main source of financing is payroll taxes on earnings paid by employees and employers. About 183 million people paid those taxes in 2021.

Payroll taxes are nothing more than a deduction from the private sector — a net loss for Gross Domestic Product and the economy. They do not finance anything. The sole source of federal financing is the federal government’s Monetary Sovereignty.

The trustees of Social Security and Medicare include the secretaries of Treasury, Health and Human Services, and Labor, as well as the Social Security commissioner.

They are supposed to be joined by two public trustees, however those positions have been vacant since 2015.

The “Trustees” do nothing. They have no power. It’s all just a bookkeeping function, which is handled automatically by computers. That is why trustee positions can be vacant without harm.

A representative from the White House did not respond to an email inquiry about whether the president intends to nominate new public trustees.

Trustees are unnecessary.

The trustees report is an added reminder of the U.S. government’s financial troubles, as it juggles historically high inflation, recovery from a pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The economy may have “financial troubles.” It can run short of dollars. But the government cannot have financial troubles. It has infinite dollars with which to pay its bills. And it has the unlimited ability to control inflation.

AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins said the reports “send a clear message to Congress: despite the short-term improvement, you must act to protect the benefits people have earned and paid into both now and for the long-term.”

The first step to “protect the benefits” is to stop telling The Big Lie.

“The stakes are too high for the millions of Americans who rely on Medicare and Social Security for their health and financial wellbeing,” she said.

This year, Social Security retirees got a 5.9% boost in benefits, the biggest cost-of-living adjustment, also known as COLA, in 39 years.

You, retirees, could have received a 10% or 100% or greater boost in benefits if Congress and the President wished it. Congress and the President have absolute control over benefits.

The destructiveness of The Big Lie, is shown in the following article:

500,000 Floridians could lose health coverage, study says
Christopher O’Donnell,Tampa Bay Times
More than 500,000 Floridians could lose their health insurance if Congress fails to extend tax credits passed through the American Rescue Plan Act, a new report warns.

The tax credits dramatically lowered premiums for millions of Florida families who this year obtained their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

But those subsidies will expire at the end of this year as attempts by Congress to extend them have stalled.

Can you answer this question? Why would a Congress, that has infinite dollars at its fingertips, not be able to lower premiums for millions of families?

If lawmakers cannot reach an agreement, premiums could rise by 53% in 2023, forcing millions of Americans to go without health insurance.

Florida would be one of the states hardest hit, according to a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute.

Roughly 96 percent of the 2.7 million Floridians enrolled in the Affordable Care Act were eligible for the tax credits this year. Without them, a household of four with an income of $111,000 will pay hundreds of dollars more in premiums next year.

Families that earn above that limit would no longer be eligible for the program. They could face an average increase of about $2,000 per year in premiums if they have to purchase private insurance.

The likely impact, the study warns, is the number of uninsured in Florida could rise by 25 percent, from 2 million to 2.5 million.

Families without health insurance typically forego critical preventative and early treatment of health issues until their condition forces them to seek emergency room care — the same strain on hospital resources and budgets that the Affordable Care Act was intended to relieve.

“A 53% increase on premiums could be very painful for a whole lot of families in the state of Florida.”

Of course, it’s not just Florida. The unnecessary pain will extend to families all over America. Can you answer this question? Why is this even an issue, for a government having unlimited financial resources?

Opposition to extending the tax credits has focused on the cost.

 Extending them would increase the federal deficit by $25.3 billion in 2023 and by $305 billion over 10 years, the study says.

House Democrats can extend the credits via a reconciliation bill to clear Republican opposition

But the fate of that program and many others depends on negotiations between President Joe Biden and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin to get the president’s social spending bill through the Senate.

Can you answer this question? Why are 100% of Republicans plus one Democrat opposed to providing federal financial aid to families?

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg was critical of Republican Gov. DeSantis. Florida is one of only 13 states that continues to reject a provision of the Affordable Care Act — passed over a decade ago — that would expand Medicaid eligibility to more than 400,000 of the poorest Floridians.

The federal government pays 90% of the cost. So by expanding Medicaid, Florida will pay only 10 cents to receive each dollar the federal government pumps into its economy.

Can you answer this question? Why would Florida refuse those many millions of support dollars? And why does Florida reject federal aid for its poorest residents?

In 2021, Florida lawmakers did pass legislation to make Medicaid available for for mothers and babies, extending their coverage from 60 days to a full year following childbirth.

But Floridians who earn less than the federal poverty level of $13,590 are not eligible for Medicaid as they would be in states that have fully expanded Medicaid.

Can you answer this question? Why are the poorest Floridians not eligible to receive federally supported Medicaid?

Since it took effect in 2014, the Affordable Care Act — often called Obamacare — has made health insurance affordable to more Americans by creating health insurance marketplaces and subsidizing the cost of premiums.

It helped the program add 2.5 million more Americans this year, expanding nationwide enrollment to a record 14.4 million.

“People who previously turned away and looked at alternative options like short term insurance were able to reconsider and saw a really affordable rate,” said Katie Roders Turner, executive director of the Family Healthcare Foundation.

She said a family of four that her group helped find insurance had just been hit with a $6,000 emergency room bill after their child developed a high fever because their short-term insurance policy included a large deductible.

Desperate people were buying junk insurance policies because they couldn’t qualify for federally supported insurance.

A lady named Graciela Lopez said subsidies in the Affordable Care Act enabled her to afford the coverage she needs to cover life-saving treatment. She was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago and had a double mastectomy.

She sees an oncologist every three months and another specialist twice a year. She is also on daily medication that would cost $1,000 per month without insurance.

Most of the cost is covered through a marketplace plan offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, which costs her $169 per month.

Insurance also pays for a substantial portion of the daily medication she takes to lower hormone levels that could trigger her cancer.

She is worried she won’t be able to afford a substantial premium hike.

“If I change my insurance, I have to find different oncologists,” she said. “I have to keep my insurance as long as I can.”

Can you answer this question? Why does Gracie Lopez, along with millions of other Americans, not receive free, comprehensive, no-deductible health care insurance paid for by the federal government?

The answers to all of the above financial questions are:

  1. The widespread (and false) belief the federal Monetarily Sovereign finances are the same and your personal (monetarily non-sovereign) finances, and that the federal government, like you, can run short of dollars.
  2. The widespread (and false) belief that federal taxpayers fund federal spending or that the federal government borrows dollars.
  3. The widespread (and false) belief that if Monetary Sovereignty were correct “someone” would have done “something” about it, and provided free Medicare, free Social Security, and other financial aids (See “Ten Steps To Prosperity” below) to every man, woman, and child in America.
  4. The widespread (and false) belief that federal spending “overheats the economy” and causes inflation.
  5. Gap Psychology, the desire of the rich who run America, to widen the income/wealth/power Gap beween them and those below them.
  6. Both political parties are responsible for disseminating The Big Lie. The Republican party, being the party of the rich, is somewhat more culpable, but both parties, virtually all media, and most economists are guilty to some degree.

ANY TIME YOU READ OR HEAR . . . 

. . . the U.S. government can’t ‘afford’ some expenditure, or about some federal agency running short of funds, or about federal taxes needing to be increased, you are a victim of The Big Lie.” (The federal government can’t unintentionally run short of dollars.)

. . .  in reference to some proposed federal expenditure, “Who will pay for it?”, you are a victim of The Big Lie. (The government will create the dollars.)

. . . the phrase “taxpayers’ money” in reference to federal spending, you are a victim of The Big Lie. (Federal taxpayers’ dollars are destroyed, not spent.)

 . . . that the federal deficit or debt are  “unsustainable,” you are a victim of The Big Lie. (Federal deficits and so-called “debt” are infinitely sustainable.)

 . . .  concerns that China will stop lending to us, you are a victim of The Big Lie. (The federal government does not borrow dollars.)

 . . . that federal spending causes inflation, you are a victim of The Big Lie. (Inflation always is caused by shortages, and actually can be cured by federal spending.) 

 Congress and the President could repudiate The Big Lie by changing laws, with a few strokes of a pen.

We are now heading into midterm elections. Congress and the President care about two things: Money and votes.

If you disagree with The Big Lie, contact your political leaders, and tell them how they can receive your money and/or vote.

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

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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

“Wolf!” “The sky is falling” “Social Security and Medicare will be insolvent.”

Which of the following is a story with a false narrative: “The Boy Who Cried Wolf!” or “Henny Penny announcing, ‘The sky is falling,”or “The CRFB claiming, “Social Security and Medicare will be insolvent”?

Answer: All three are false narratives. The first two are meant to teach children valuable lessons. The third should teach adults a valuable lesson.

That lesson is: Don’t believe the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) when it howls like a wolf, squawks like a chicken, and pontificates in solemn terms that Social Security and Medicare “trust funds” are running short of dollars.

It’s all lies.

Here is what the CRFB now says:

Trustees: Social Security and Medicare Headed for Insolvency in 13 and 6 Years The Social Security and Medicare Trustees just released their 2022 reports on the financial status of the Social Security and Medicare programs.

The Trustees show that the Social Security and Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) trust funds rapidly approach insolvency. Their funding imbalances need to be addressed sooner rather than later to prevent across-the-board benefit cuts or abrupt changes to tax or benefit levels.

In effect, the CRFB claims:

1. Social Security and Medicare benefits are paid for by trust funds.

2. These “trust funds” will run short of money.

3. The solution to Medicare or Social Security insolvency requires cutting benefits and/or increasing taxes.

All three are factually FALSE.

1. SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE BENEFITS ARE PAID FOR BY TRUST FUNDS

Wrong.

To quote from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation website:

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

A private sector “trust fund” implies a secure source of funding.

(A federal trust fund merely tracks inflows and outflows for specific programs. There is no secure source of funding.)

In private-sector trust funds, receipts are deposited, and assets are held and invested by trustees on behalf of the stated beneficiaries.

In a federal trust fund, the receipts — as part of the M2 money supply measure — are destroyed upon receipt. They no longer are part of any money supply measure.

There are no stated beneficiaries, as the criteria for beneficiaries change daily.)

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.

The federal government (Congress and the President) can do whatever they wish with the “trust funds”: Add to them, subtract from them, or change them to pay for anything or nothing.

At the click of a computer key or the passage of a law, the balance in any federal “trust fund” could be changed to $100 trillion or $0 or anywhere in between.

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

If Congress and the President wished, the Medicare “trust fund” could be changed to pay for Las Vegas vacations, jewelry, Congressional vacations, etc. Almost every year, the federal government arbitrarily changes what Medicare will pay for and how much it will pay.

In fact, that is exactly what the CRFB suggests when it writes about “benefit cuts or abrupt changes to tax or benefit levels.”

In a real “trust fund,” the trustees would not have that control.

2. THESE TRUST FUNDS WILL RUN SHORT OF MONEY

Wrong.

The United States government is unlike state and local governments. It also is unlike euro governments, private businesses, you, and me. The U.S. government uniquely is Monetarily Sovereign. It is sovereign over the United States dollar.

In the 1780’s it created the original dollars from thin air and gave them an arbitrary value. Today, the government continues to create dollars from thin air and continues to provide them with an arbitrary value.

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 government never unintentionally can run short of its own sovereign currency, the dollar. Even if the federal government didn’t collect a penny in taxes, it could continue spending forever.

This absolute control over the U.S. dollar means no federal government agency can run out of dollars unless Congress and the President will it.

The only way Medicare or Social Security or any other federal agency can run short of dollars is if Congress and the President want them to run short of dollars.

3. THE SOLUTION TO SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE INSOLVENCY REQUIRES CUTTING BENEFITS OR INCREASING TAXES

Wrong.

Despite all the pretense about fake “trust funds,” Federal taxes (which include FICA) do not fund Medicare or Social Security. Those FICA dollars deducted from your paycheck (but tellingly, not deducted from other sources of income received by the wealthier among us) — those FICA dollars do not pay for anything. 

They merely become part of the federal government’s infinite supply, and effectively are destroyed. (You mathematicians know that infinity plus any amount still = infinity. Thus, your tax dollars do not increase the federal government’s supply of dollars by even one cent.)

In fact, with regard to Medicare Part B, there is a wholly different pretense.

While Medicare Part A (pays for hospitals and doctors, Part B pays for clinical research, ambulance services, durable medical equipment, and some drugs. And Medicare recipients are charged extra, above FICA, ostensibly to pay for Part B. 

But in reality, those charges, like all dollars coming into the federal government, are destroyed upon receipt.

The solution for Social Security and Medicare insolvencies is simply for the federal government to pay for them, which it could do the same way it pays for everything: By creating new dollars, ad hoc.

So group the warnings about Social Security and Medicare “trust fund” insolvency along with the boy who cried, “wolf” and Henny Penny’s “the sky is falling” as silly, little lies. There are no “trust funds.” Congress and the President have absolute control over all federal agency finances.

All your tax dollars are for naught. The federal government could and should provide free, comprehensive, no-deductible Social Security and Medicare for every man, woman, and child in America.

Continuing with the CRFB’s charade:

The Social Security Trustees estimate the Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) trust fund will deplete its reserves by 2034 and the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) trust fund will not become depleted within the 75-year projection window for the first time since the 1983 Trustees’ report.

On a combined theoretical basis, assuming revenue is allocated between the trust funds in the years between OASI and SSDI insolvency, Social Security will become insolvent by 2035. Upon insolvency, all beneficiaries will face a 20 percent across-the-board benefit cut, which will grow to 26 percent by 2096.

The Trustees estimate a 75-year actuarial shortfall of 3.42 percent of taxable payroll for Social Security, which is slightly lower than the 2021 report’s estimate of 3.54 percent of payroll, but higher than any other year prior.

And blah, blah, blah. The CRFB substantiates the old saying, “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure,” by providing statistics to make their lies sound factual. 

Ooh, it must be true. There even is a graph. Except the graph is phony. The “Trust Fund Exhaustion” is based on the lie that Social Security benefits are paid by the fake “trust fund.” It’s not a trust fund and it pays for nothing. It’s just a record of ins and outs.

And here is another graph of lies:

Same story. The “Trust Fund Exhaustion” is based on a lie. The phony “trust fund” pays for nothing.

Why does the CRFB tell such big lies? 

I suppose it’s possible they don’t know they are lying, and that they are providing the misinformation out of economic ignorance.

Actually, I don’t think so. My belief, based on no data, is that they know it’s a lie. If I am correct, why are they lying?

It all comes down to Gap Psychology, the human desire to distance ourselves from lower income/wealth/power people, while coming closer to the higher income/wealth/power people.

Rich is a comparative word, not an absolute. You only can be rich if someone else is poorer. Without the Gaps, no one would be rich. We all would be the same. So, to become richer, you need the Gap below you to widen and/or the Gap above you to narrow.

And that even includes the rich, who want to be richer, which they can accomplish by making the rest of us poorer. 

Because the rich control the politicians, it is no coincidence that FICA is deducted from salaries rather than from the investment income that is the major part of the income received by the rich.

And there even is a cap on the income subject to FICA.

And then there are all the tax loopholes available to the rich — you know, those loopholes that made it possible for billionaire Donald Trump to avoid paying any taxes at all in 8 of the past 10 years. (How does it feel to know you’ve paid more taxes than a billionaire?)

Part of the plan by the rich, to widen the Gap below them, is to make you pay unnecessarily for Social Security and Medicare, and not only to pay more, but to have your benefits cut and taxed.

So the CRFB, as a paid mouthpiece for the rich, does everything it can to “prove” you should pay more taxes and receive less in benefits, thereby widening the Gap between you and the rich.

And they have been quite successful. Now that you have seen their phony statistics, here are some real statistics: Inequality is rising. The rich are growing richer; the poor are becoming poorer.

The Gini coefficient measures inequality, where “0” represents perfect equality (Everyone has the same) and “1” represents perfect inequality (where one person has everything). The higher the line, the more unequal the measure is.

And finally, of the two major political parties, one, the Republicans, tend to believe the poor are poor because they are dumb and lazy, while the rich are rich because they are smart and work hard. Here is one example of that belief:

IN SUMMARY

  1. The U.S. federal government is Monetarily Sovereign. It never unintentionally can run short of its own sovereign currency, the U.S. dollar. Even if $0 federal taxes were collected, the federal government could continue spending forever.
  2. Medicare and Social Security, as agencies of the U.S. government, cannot run short of dollars unless that is what Congress and the President want. The federal government funds all its agencies’ pending by creating new dollars, ad hoc. All tax income is destroyed upon receipt.
  3. The Medicare and Social Security “trust funds” are not trust funds. These fake trust funds do not pay for benefits, but only keep records of dollar inflow and federal spending. As mere record keepers, they neither can be solvent nor become insolvent.
  4. There is no financial reason to cut Medicare or Social Security benefits or to increase taxes, or even to continue collecting taxes. The federal government funds benefits paid by both programs regardless of tax income.
  5. “Rich” is a comparative, not an absolute. According to Gap Psychology, people generally wish to widen the income/wealth/power Gaps below and to narrow those Gaps above. The rich can become richer by acquiring more for themselves and/or by forcing those below to acquire less. 
  6. The rich run America by bribing politicians, the media, and economists. To make themselves richer, the rich widen the Gap below by backing false narratives and laws that reduce federal benefits to the poorer while increasing taxes on the poorer.

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

The phony “trust fund” controversy

Here is what the “trust fund” scare-mongers like the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) is telling you: “Major Trust Funds Are In Trouble”:

The common interpretation of Shakespeare’s, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” is wrong. Words count. That is why products are given “fresh,” “sweet,” or otherwise positive names.

  • You never will see a toothpaste or a perfume named, “deadly stinkwort.”
  • When you misname something you create a false impression of what the thing really is.
  • Sadly, many things in economics are misnamed. The federal “debt” is not a real debt. It is the total of deposits into Treasury Security (T-bill, T-note, T-bond) accounts.
  • The federal “deficit” more accurately should be termed the “economic surplus,” because the private sector is enriched.
  • The “trade deficit” is a “trade surplus,” because the economy receives net goods and services.
  • And federal “trust funds” are nothing at all like real trust funds. Instead, they merely are bookkeeping balances.

To quote from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation web site:

A federal trust fund is an accounting mechanism used by the federal government to track earmarked receipts (money designated for a specific purpose or program) and corresponding expenditures.

The largest and best-known trust funds finance Social Security, portions of Medicarehighways and mass transit, and pensions for government employees.

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.

Thus, the federal government can do whatever it wishes with the “trust funds.” It can add to them, subtract from them, or change them from the wrongly presumed mission of supporting federal expenditures.

At the click of a computer key or the passage of a law, the balance in the federal “trust funds” could be changed to $100 trillion or $0, and neither would affect taxpayers.

Thus, the notion that any federal “trust funds” are, as the CRFB claims, “in trouble,” is a lie, unless “trouble” comes from those who don’t wish you to understand the differences between the private sector’s real trust funds vs. the federal government’s phony “trust funds.”

(The scare-mongers always “forget” to tell you that Medicare Part B, doesn’t even pretend to be funded via a troubled trust fund. The federal government simply pays for it.)

The CRFB is led by this distinguished group of economists, business leaders, and educators. Is it even possible that these smart, well-informed people don’t understand the differences between a private-sector trust fund and a federal trust fund?

I think not. I think they very much understand.

So why do they broadcast the Big Lie, that federal taxes fund federal spending, and trust funds are going broke, when in fact, federal taxes fund nothing, and the trust funds have whatever Congress and the President want them to have?

They do it because of Gap Psychology, the desire to distance oneself from those below on any social scale.

In some cases, these distinguished people do it because they are paid by the rich. In other cases, they do it because they are rich.

They wish to grow richer by keeping the middle- and lower-income/wealth/power people down. And this is how they want to do it, as the CRFB summarizes:

Policymakers must turn their attention to long-term debt and deficit reduction to get the country on solid fiscal ground.

This includes action to secure Social Security and other trust funds headed toward insolvency, limit the growth of health care and other costs, and raise additional tax revenue.

Here is what those terms mean:

  1. “Debt and deficit reduction” means cut spending and increase taxes
  2. “Secure Social Security” means cut benefits by raising the minimum age (as we have been doing), and with an adverse formula for inflation (as has been attempted)
  3. “Limit the growth of health care” means larger deductibles, fewer procedures covered, and fewer people covered or eliminating a program altogether (i.e. Obamacare).
  4. “Raise additional tax revenue” by increasing the FICA percentage and by raising the maximum salary collection level (but not to the level where it would impact the rich).

In short, the debt scare-mongers want to take dollars from the lower- and middle-income groups and give the dollars to a federal government that has an infinite supply of them.

They want to starve the economy and impoverish the lower- and middle-income groups, thus making the rich richer by comparison. During the resultant recessions and depressions, the rich grow richer by gobbling up assets, while cutting payrolls.

And they want you to agree to do it.

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