Democrats are flirting with a dangerous economic theory

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More Democrats are willing to throw out payment plans for expensive programs due to a dangerous, fringe economic idea: modern monetary theory (MMT). Several Democrats have consulted with economist and former Bernie Sanders campaign advisor Stephanie Kelton, who's largely responsible for popularizing MMT and deficit spending. And February has already seen Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez justify the exorbitantly-priced Green New Deal by pointing to MMT.

But to know why it won't work, we have to understand what it is.

Put simply, MMT turns traditional fiscal policy on its head. We usually think Washington uses American tax money to fund programs like Medicare and national defense. But MMT adherents argue that because the U.S. government creates that money in the first place, it actually doesn't need tax revenue to fund programs, pay entitlements, or settle debts. The federal government has the power to simply issue its own money to whoever needs it. And since the U.S. government has this power, according to Kelton, expensive policies like college-for-all, military expansion, and national infrastructure development are all naturally affordable.

But much of the popular discussion around MMT stops here—perhaps because this is where it gets complicated. Some hear MMT's claim that governments can afford anything they want and deficits are irrelevant, and, thus, spending can be practically limitless. But MMT recognizes governments still have to deal with inflation. More dollars floating around translates into more people demanding scarce resources, causing prices to rise. The way MMT fights demand-fed inflation is not through "printing" less money, but rather by taking money back out of the economy through taxation. Contrary to popular media's discussion of MMT, the theory still sees taxation as a necessary policy tool.

While some disagreements between MMT economists and orthodox economists are relatively semantic, MMT really just has far too many problems in practice.

Balancing fiscal policy to control inflation requires a much less politicized budgetary process than the one we have. For MMT to work, we would first need something like a Federal Reserve for fiscal policy—which we don't have. And advocating MMT requires an unreasonably optimistic view of interest rates. So long as the growth rate exceeds the interest rate, we should always have enough cash to pay our debts. But even as progressive economist Paul Krugman notes, deficits tend to raise interest rates, slowing investment and growth.

That's where MMT faces a crisis. If debt accelerated to, say, 300 percent of GDP–– which would be sooner rather than later if something like the Green New Deal were passed and funded through deficits––and interest rates were 1.5 percentage points higher than growth, Washington would have to run a budget surplus equal to 4.5 percent of its GDP. If the U.S. had to do that today, we would have to run an $872 billion surplus. That's nearly a trillion dollars doing nothing for Americans outside of holding off an economic disaster. So when Democrats like Rep. Ocasio-Cortez use MMT to dismiss concerns about their programs causing massive deficits, they fundamentally misunderstand its principles.

Selling MMT to the public is a way to endorse popular, expensive programs without admitting tradeoffs.

Most economists aren't persuaded by MMT. No significant academic journals have published MMT papers. But ambitious Democrats don't need to worry about winning over economists. Selling MMT to the public is a way to endorse popular, expensive programs without admitting tradeoffs.

This strategy will backfire economically —but it could politically, too. Back in the 2018 primary elections, candidates endorsed by the moderate New Democratic caucus won 86 percent of their races, while only 40 percent of the candidates endorsed by the Bernie Sanders-esque Our Revolution organization won nominations. In the November general elections, 23 New Democrats flipped seats from red to blue, while the Revolution progressives flipped zero.

Moderates found more success than progressives because the vast majority of Americans don't feel represented by the right-populist Republicans or progressive Democrats. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez may be setting the tone for the rest of her party, but when we step out of our social media bubbles, we find most Americans want more civil leadership and fewer war cries from Washington. And given 71 percent of Americans now think addressing the debt should be among the federal government's top three priorities, Democrats should rise above provocative "sloganeering" and champion fiscal responsibility in the 2020 campaigns, formerly a standard GOP platform, and potentially win over disillusioned Republican voters.

There are plenty of plans for pursuing progressive goals like better healthcare coverage and environmental sustainability that don't rely on a widely-dismissed calculus or require America to risk a serious economic crisis. Democrats would be smart to chase after one of those instead.

John Kristof is a research fellow at the Sagamore Institute and a contributor for Young Voices, writing frequently on fiscal policy and other economic issues. Follow him on Twitter.

Acclaimed environmentalist and author of "Apocalypse Never" Michael Shellenberger joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Wednesday to warn us about the true goals and effects of climate alarmism: It's become a "secular religion" that lowers standards of living in developed countries, holds developing countries back, and has environmental progress "exactly wrong."

Michael is a Time "Hero of the Environment," Green Book Award winner, and the founder and president of Environmental Progress. He has been called a "environmental guru," "climate guru," "North America's leading public intellectual on clean energy," and "high priest" of the environmental humanist movement for his writings and TED talks, which have been viewed more than 5 million times. But when Michael penned a stunning article in Forbes saying, "On Behalf of Environmentalists, I Apologize for the Climate Scare", the article was pulled just a few hours later. (Read more here.)

On the show, Micheal talked about how environmental alarmism has overtaken scientific fact, leading to a number of unfortunate consequences. He said one of the problems is that rich nations are blocking poor nations from being able to industrialize. Instead, they are seeking to make poverty sustainable, rather than to make poverty history.

"As a cultural anthropologist, I've been traveling to poorer countries and interviewing small farmers for over 30 years. And, obviously there are a lot of causes why countries are poor, but there's no reason we should be helping them to stay poor," Michael said. "A few years ago, there was a movement to make poverty history ... [but] it got taken over by the climate alarmist movement, which has been focused on depriving poor countries, not just of fossil fuels they need to develop, but also the large hydroelectric dams."

He offered the example of the Congo, one of the poorest countries in the world. The Congo has been denied the resources needed to build large hydroelectric dams, which are absolutely essential to pull people out of poverty. And one of the main groups preventing poor countries from the gaining financing they need to to build dams is based in Berkeley, California — a city that gets its electricity from hydroelectric dams.

"It's just unconscionable ... there are major groups, including the Sierra Club, that support efforts to deprive poor countries of energy. And, honestly, they've taken over the World Bank [which] used to fund the basics of development: roads, electricity, sewage systems, flood control, dams," Micheal said.

"Environmentalism, apocalyptic environmentalism in particular, has become the dominant religion of supposedly secular people in the West. So, you know, it's people at the United Nations. It's people that are in very powerful positions who are trying to impose 'nature's order' on societies," he continued. "And, of course, the problem is that nobody can figure out what nature is, and what it's not. That's not a particular good basis for organizing your economy."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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Dr. Voddie Baucham, Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia, joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to explain why he agrees with Vice President Mike Pence's refusal to say the phrase "Black Lives Matter."

Baucham, who recently drew national attention when his sermon titled "Ethnic Gnosticism" resurfaced online, said the phrase has been trademarked by a dangerous, violent, Marxist movement that doesn't care about black lives except to use them as political pawns.

"We have to separate this movement from the issues," Baucham warned. "I know that [Black Lives Matter] is a phrase that is part of an organization. It is a trademark phrase. And it's a phrase designed to use black people.

"That phrase dehumanizes black people, because it makes them pawns in a game that has nothing whatsoever to do with black people and their dignity. And has everything to do with a divisive agenda that is bigger than black people. That's why I'm not going to use that phrase, because I love black people. I love being black."

Baucham warned that Black Lives Matter -- a radical Marxist movement -- is using black people and communities to push a dangerous and divisive narrative. He encouraged Americans to educate themselves on the organization's agenda and belief statement.

"This movement is dangerous. This movement is vicious. And this movement uses black people," he emphasized. "And so if I'm really concerned about issues in the black community -- and I am -- then I have to refuse, and I have to repudiate that organization. Because they stand against that for which I am advocating."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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We're going to be doing an amazing broadcast on Thursday, July 2nd, and we will be broadcasting a really important moment. It is restoring truth. It is restoring our history. It is asking to you make a covenant with God. The covenant that was made by the Pilgrims. And it's giving you a road map of things that we can do, to be able to come back home, together.

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On last week's Wednesday night special, Glenn Beck revealed where the Black Lives Matter organization really gets its funding, and the dark money trail leading to a cast of familiar characters. Shortly after the program aired, one of BLM's fiscal sponsors, Thousand Currents, took down its board of directors page, which featured one of these shady characters:

Ex-Marxist professor and author of "Beyond Woke," Michael Rectenwald, joined Glenn Beck on the TV show to fill us in on the suspicious change he discovered on the Thousand Currents webpage and the Communist terrorists who is now helping run the organization. (Fortunately, the internet is forever, so it is still possible to view the board of directors page by looking at a web archive from the WayBack Machine.)

Rectenwald revealed the shocking life history of Thousand Currents' vice chair of the board, Susan Rosenberg, who spent 16 years in federal prison for her part in a series of increasingly violent acts of terrorism, including bombing the U.S. Capitol building, bombing an FBI building, and targeting police for assassination.

"Their whole campaign was one of unbelievably vicious, murderous cop killings, assassinations, and bombings," explained Rectenwald of Rosenberg's terror group known as the May 19th Communist Organization or M19.

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:


Glenn's full investigation into the dark origins of the funding behind Black Lives Matter is available for BlazeTV subscribers. Not a subscriber? Use promo code GLENN to get $10 off your BlazeTV subscription or start your 30-day free trial today.

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