Mitt Rommey: Still a Monster. Deficit Fret: Still Nothing But an Austerity Con

A peculiar and enraging thing I see on my Twitter and, especially, FB timelines: this attempt to sanitize and, gosh, even beatify asshole Republicans just because they say Trump Bad.

Mitt Romney remains an absolute monster. Pay attention people.

Deficit screamers are about one thing: austerity. They think ordinary Americans have it too good, and all the wealth of the country should only belong to the already wealthy. This scare tactic has ALMOST worked in the past. OBAMA (yes! him!) wanted to reach a “Grand Bargain” with the GOP to cut entitlements. Bill Clinton too! Thank God for Monica Lewinsky!

Joe Biden! Don’t get me started.

People are waking up to the austerity con, as evidenced by the popularity of Stephanie Kelton, Pavlina Tcherneva, and Nathan Tankus, whose work is praised by smart writers for Bloomberg and Barron’s and the stodgy-ass NY Times (see yesterday’s Manjoo column). The old evil jerks in both parties really have one last chance, and at the moment they are being led by the Democrats’ favorite Republican. They think they can pass awful legislation like this under cover of relief. Read the ugly details in today’s Unsanitized, from the always excellent David Dayen.

Remember, the deficit hysterics–and that is most everyone of a certain age and rank in Washington DC, including (and especially) leaders of the Democratic party–look at this animated gif and think the flattening middle still has too big a share of the nation’s wealth!

I would like to see an updated version of this tbh….

A Leader without Leading: Dayen on Pelosi

[Hello, yes, I know! It’s been two years!]

David Dayen’s great review of Molly Ball’s fawning Pelosi bio foregrounds two things I’ve been shouting about:

1. “… during the crucial months of March and April, Pelosi became a one-woman House of Representatives, unilaterally writing legislation or negotiating with Republicans, and presenting the finished product to House members, take it or leave it.”

2. She adheres to absolutely deranged and antiquated views on debt and deficits. “[J]ust two years ago, [she] made a lugubrious elegy on the House floor after the death of [private equity pioneer] Pete Peterson, who bankrolled the deficit hysteria industry for decades and relentlessly targeted Social Security for cuts. (Ball does reveal that Pelosi told Obama during his “grand bargain” talks that she would support his aims, “even if it meant agreeing to entitlement cuts.”)

Educated people in finance and politics are coming around to understand how money works via MMT. It’s absolutely tragic that the leader of the putative left-most party IN A PANDEMIC clings to what are basically superstitious ideas of what a government can and can’t do.

I’m reminded that one-quarter of the population of Ireland starved during the Great Famine because the powers-that-be saw the “potato-dependent economy as the result of Irish backwardness and self-indulgence” and didn’t want to intervene in the divine system of the market, “guided by spiritual laws.”

Nancy apparently believes in spiritual laws stipulating the size of a deficit. If lives are destroyed, and people die because of a dimwitted superstitious orthodoxy, that’s too bad. The ghost of Pete Peterson will be pleased, and that’s what counts.

Countering the mythologies of debt, the deficit, and everything

The United States is broke. The deficits we are creating will leave our grandchildren impoverished, and horror of horrors, in hock to the Chinese! The United States must manage its finances the way any family pays its bills. On the path we are on, we are destined to turn out like Greece.

If you agree with any of the above statements, congratulations. You are in step with current conventional wisdom on the economy. Unfortunately, you are also wrong. As Matthew Stoller pointed out a year or so ago, “The U.S. government prints dollars — it can no more run out of dollars than a bowling alley can run out of strikes.” Why, then, the commonly accepted misunderstandings? It’s a long story.

I just spent a couple of unproductive hours trying to explain my conversion to the ideas behind Modern Monetary Theory, and I realize it’s pretty pointless to do so. Better to link to a few places where MMT’s leading proponents make their case. The video above offers a pretty good summary, for starters.

And of course there is the entire New Economic Perspectives blog. The concepts can be heavy sledding for someone like me, who admits to being slightly illiterate macroeconomics-wise. The discussion can quickly get too complex or too contemptuous of opposing, establishment points of view.

Stephanie Kelton, the Deficit Owl, is for me the best preacher of the MMT gospel. She’s poised, polished, articulate, and frequently funny. Also capable of reducing complex concepts to layman’s (or laywoman’s?) terms. Here is a transcript of her appearance on Harry Shearer’s excellent Le Show, and here’s a link to the podcast itself.

Last weekend Dr. Kelton was a guest on Up W/Chris Hayes discussing “the magic coin.”

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Next, apparently, according to Kelton’s twitter feed, she’s “[g]oing on Oprah to declare truths about money/debt/deficit.” I THINK she’s joking, but wouldn’t it be nice….

In spite of the prevailing moralizing mythologies, deficits are not an indication of a nation going down the road to ruin. Too many people have accepted the argument that austerity is the only solution to the manufactured deficit crisis, that the “tough choices” we face means full employment just isn’t possible, that entitlements are out of control. The trillion-dollar coin idea may be dead (for the time being), but it brought into the mainstream a more sophisticated understanding about the nature of money, how it’s created, and what it’s for. I’m hoping the genie is out of the bottle.

Additional bonus: What is it About Money that Scares the Bejesus Out of People? is a carefully curated, and more than mildly amusing,set of twitter responses to the #mintthecoin hashtag, proof that ignorance of a subject is no obstacle to impassioned tweeting about it.

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