OP-ED: The United States government can’t “afford” single-payer healthcare for one reason, and one reason only: It doesn’t want to

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Nomiki Konst interviews Stephanie Kelton for TYT Politics, 2/21/2018 (link)

An opinion by Jeff Epstein, Editor in Chief of Citizens’ Media TV

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The United States government prints its own money. To say that the United States cannot afford something is nonsensical because…it prints its own money. Money exists because the US Congress tells it to. Voilà. Magic. So why do politicians pretend that the federal government is the same as state and city governments, and households, which genuinely do have these constraints (because they don’t print their own money)?

In the above video, economist Stephanie Kelton (economic adviser to Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign) answers this question (at around the five-minute mark):

I think they’re afraid of what it might mean if they say, okay, it’s not about affordability, It’s about political will. I think they’re afraid of voters and what voters might demand if politicians were to be candid with them. If they were to say, actually, when we draw up the budget, it’s up to us to decide where and how many resources to put in. If we really wanted to put in more resources into education or infrastructure or Social Security, we can do that.

It gives political cover to be able to treat things as if we are on the gold standard. As if money is scarce and finite and you can run out of it and there’s only so much of it. Then you get comments like the kind that Obama made, quite frankly, when he talked about shared sacrifice and tightening the belt. That sort of language. It provides a little bit of cover for policymakers who I think are a little bit worried about exactly how much the public might demand of the government if they understood that a lot more is affordable than they’re told.

We can afford single-payer healthcare. We can afford free college. We can afford a $15 an hour minimum wage. When you print your own money, you can afford anything and everything you choose to afford. The federal government tells the people that they can’t afford certain things because they’re “worried about exactly how much the public might demand of the government if they understood that a lot more is affordable than they’re told.”

It’s not a coincidence that the only things we’re told we can afford just so happen to benefit the powerful.

Why are we so easily fooled?

#MMT


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