On Valentine’s Day, Senator Bernie Sanders sent a letter to the President, authored by himself and signed by 15 other Senators, all Democrats. The letter was a response to the rumors that the President intends to include his Chained CPI proposal to cut Social Security benefits in the budget he will soon send to Congress. It summarized:
“Mr. President: These are tough times for our country. With the middle class struggling and more people living in poverty than ever before, we urge you not to propose cuts in your budget to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits which would make life even more difficult for some of the most vulnerable people in America.
We look forward to working with you in support of the needs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor – and all working Americans.”
Paul Krugman can’t explain why the deficit issue has suddenly dropped off the agenda. He says:
. . . quite suddenly the whole thing has dropped off the agenda.
You could say that this reflects the dwindling of the deficit — but that’s old news; anyone doing the math saw this coming quite a while ago. Or you could mention the failure of the often-predicted financial crisis to arrive — but after so many years of being wrong, why should a few months more have caused the deficit scolds to disappear in a puff of smoke?
Why indeed are they so quiet? Could it be because the deficit hawks have succeeded in getting the short-term result they want, which is a likely deficit too small to sustain the private savings and import desires of most Americans, and also because the political climate is such right now that they cannot make progress on their longer term entitlement-cutting program until after the coming elections have resolved the issue of whether there will be strong resistance to such a campaign if they renew it? Let’s look at the budget outlook first.
The ongoing political deadlock over the U.S. government deficit and the national debt is slowly digressing into one of the most devastating economic pains that a financially sovereign government can inflict on itself and on its own people. With the exception of the readers of New Economic Perspectives and MMT-oriented blogs (here, here, here, here, here, and here among others), the vast majority of the public suffers from an acute form of deficit disorder, which can be diagnosed in a variety of ways, but most commonly you will notice that the subject is convinced that:
the government should balance its budget and pay off its debt in the same way that responsible individuals, households, and businesses do;
government deficits crowd-out private sector investments;
government deficits cause inflation;
government deficits promote inefficient and wasteful government programs; and/or
the national debt is a burden on future generations and a form of taxation without representation.
NEP’s Stephanie Kelton appeared on Chris Hayes’ All In on Monday evening, (10/8/13). The topic of discussion was “Why the debt ceiling isn’t your family budget” examining the fallacy of comparing the debt ceiling to a family budget.
The lamentable state of American political parties has become common sport amongst the chattering classes in DC and beyond. Although, one wonders whether this dysfunction has really been such a bad thing, when considering how united bipartisan “responsible” action always seems to result in yet more budget cuts.
By virtue of the fact that Congress and the Obama Administration couldn’t agree on much for the past few years, America’s deficits got large enough to put a floor on demand. The transfer payments via the automatic stabilisers worked to stabilise private sector incomes and allowed a general, albeit tepid, recovery in the economy.
NEP’s William Black appears on Daily Ticker with Henry Blodget. With two days to go before “sequestration” chops an indiscriminate $85 billion out of Federal government spending, the blame game has reached a fever pitch. Bill explains it is dumb economics and some of the short term impacts of the sequester.
You can view the episode at this link. (Sorry no embedding Yahoo videos)
[Yahoo was having technical difficulty - if video is not Henry and Bill, click image of House of Representatives to immediate right of Richard Branson beneath video.]
The establishment’s debt and deficit hawks have taken flight once again, this time to launch a counterassault against Paul Krugman’s sensible and increasingly successful campaign to get people to stop clutching their pearls over the federal budget situation, and to focus attention on more pressing matters of high unemployment and economic stagnation. Joe Scarborough, Ezra Klein and the Washington Post editorial board are among those springing into action on behalf of deficit worry, and against the dangerous movement of calmness and sobriety breaking out all over. One thing that becomes more apparent as this debate unfolds is that the budget warriors frequently confuse broader public policy challenges that happen to have a budgetary component with narrower problems related to size of the budget deficit itself. A recent Atlantic piece by Alan Blinder unfortunately contributes to that confusion.
Well, that’s over. The President had a chance to go “over the cliff,” bargain hard with the Republicans, get more of what he said he wanted at the price of perhaps some more days of crisis with extreme pressure building on the Republican caucus, and he blinked. I don’t much care that he blinked on tax rates for the top 2% and on inheritance taxes, because tax rate increases for purposes of deficit reduction simply aren’t needed for getting deficit spending needed to create jobs, as the rest of this post will show. Here’s what I care about: Continue reading →
Donald Trump’s specialty is unintended self-parody and his recent statements on Fox News about how Republicans should engage in domestic economic terror by using a “nuclear weapon” against our economy prove that one can become wealthy and famous without having even the most tenuous grasp of patriotism, reality, logic, or ethics. Here is Newsmax’s story of Trump’s treasonous ode to nuking the nation. (Newsmax is an ultra-right site sympathetic to Trump, so their description was not slanted against him.) Continue reading →
The word “deficit,” when applied to the Government financial accounting of a monetarily sovereign nation, that is, one that issues a non-convertible fiat currency, with a floating exchange rate, and no debts in a currency it doesn’t issue, is a problem, because the label “deficit” when applied to such a Government doesn’t mean what most people think it means. As Michel Hoexter points out: