We CAN have nice things. We can provide a well-paying job for anyone who wants one. Medicare-for-All. Child care. Tuition-free public college and excellent public schools. Modern infrastructure including high-speed rail from city to city. We CAN have nice things that make our lives better.
Because the US government issues its own currency, it can’t “run out of money” or go bankrupt. That means “We the People” can — and should — spend what we need to spend on what we want and need without worrying about “how to pay for it.” So long as there is production capacity, people and natural resources to apply, we can pay for things by issuing money as our Congress instructs our Treasury.
Our national budget conversations should be about our spending priorities, not arbitrary spending limits.
Of course, there are limits. But those limits are not the limits that come to mind from simplistic explanations of a “family budget” that is decided “around the kitchen table.” Our spending limit is inflation; we mustn’t exceed the time, materials and human resources available to produce what we spend on.
Academics and economists explain how this works. They call their explanation “Modern Monetary Theory” (MMT), but their explanations can get complicated and can seem counterintuitive. This site tries to bridge the gap between the complicated explanations and what the public needs to know.
For a brief introduction and explanation of MMT, read Congress can give every American a pony (if it breeds enough ponies), by Stephanie Kelton, in the LA Times, 9/29/2017. From her op-ed:
“What if it turned out that the government really could give everyone a pony — and a chicken and car? That is, so long as we could breed enough ponies and chickens and manufacture enough cars. The cars and the food have to come from somewhere; the money is conjured out of thin air, more or less.
Let me explain.
[. . .]
Whoa, cowboy! Are you telling me that the government can just make money appear out of nowhere, like magic? Absolutely. Congress has special powers: It’s the patent-holder on the U.S. dollar. No one else is legally allowed to create it. This means that Congress can always afford the pony because it can always create the money to pay for it.”