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Joe Firestone

Joe Firestone

Joseph M. Firestone, Ph.D. is Managing Director, CEO of the Knowledge Management Consortium International (KMCI), and Director of KMCI’s CKIM Certificate program. He is also a Senior Fellow at Correntewire.com.

Articles by Joe Firestone

Real Fiscal Responsibility, Vol. II: The Peterson Network, Inequality, and the Failure of Neoliberalism

February 3, 2016

This is how the mission of the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was defined by the White House on February 18, 2010:
The Commission is charged with identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run. Specifically, the Commission shall propose recommendations designed to balance the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt, by 2015. This result is projected to stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio at an acceptable level once the economy recovers. The magnitude and timing of the policy measures necessary to achieve this goal are subject to considerable uncertainty and will depend on the evolution of the economy. In addition, the Commission shall propose recommendations that meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook, including changes to address the growth of entitlement spending and the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures of the Federal Government.
And here is what President Obama’s web site had to say about deficit reduction in 2012:
Right now, President Obama is working with leaders of both parties in Washington to reduce the deficit in a balanced way so we can lay the foundation for long-term middle-class job growth and prevent your taxes from going up.

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For US Democracy: There Is Only One Choice

February 3, 2016

We need big, big changes in the United States. Many of them will require the Federal Government to spend unprecedented amounts, including deficit spending to enable us to solve problems that have languished, creating needs, for many, many years.
How can we get these changes legislated through a political system that has been increasingly less responsive to most people over the past four decades. There’s only one way that will work without revolution.
We need a movement for change powerful enough to replace the present establishment of House and Senate legislators and presidents wanting to preserve their way of looking at how to do things, with another group that has concluded that change is desperately needed and must be accomplished come what may, whatever the cost in long established customs and traditions in both Houses of Congress and among the vested political and communications elites in the Washington, DC/New York “village.” But not just any changes will do.
We need political changes that will bring us officeholders who will do what most of the public wants them to do and who will not enact laws that most of the people do not want. We also need legislators who will not be bought by special interests, at least for long enough that Congress has time to pass laws that will re-create a new regime that will be very difficult for these interests to corrupt.

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An Excerpt from Real Fiscal Responsibility, Vol I: the Progressive Give-up Formula

December 17, 2015

Below is an excerpt from my most recent e-book: Real Fiscal Responsibility, Vol. I: The Progressive Give-up Formula. The book is volume I of II critiquing austerity politics at the Federal level in the United States. It exposes its fallacies, its closed-mindedness and futility, and especially its reliance on wrong-headed conceptions of fiscal sustainability and fiscal responsibility.

In this volume, I relate neoliberalism, the Washington Consensus, and austerity politics pushed by the powers that be among the DC Village progressives, and the ideas of fiscal sustainability and fiscal responsibility, to the perspectives of Modern Money Theory (MMT), including MMT-based ideas about fiscal sustainability and responsibility. I also explain what I mean by real fiscal responsibility, rather than faux fiscal responsibility, and apply these ideas to an analysis of the US Government during the term of Jimmy Carter. I begin my analysis of current progressive ideas and activities by examining the views of Senator Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, and then continue by analyzing the operation of the give-up formula among Congressional and DC progressives during the period 2009 – 2010, when the Democrats had big margins in Congress. I then move to the period 2011 – the present.

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Some Platinum Coin Objections from the Mainstream: Part V

November 20, 2015

This is Part V, and the conclusion, of the series providing my reply to Philip Wallach’s reply to my evaluation of his views on the platinum coin proposal and other options for settling debt ceiling conflicts. In Part I I discussed some preliminary mis-characterizations of what I said and, more importantly, why the commonly recognized fiscal policy rule that, at least over a number of years, government revenues ought to match government spending is fiscally unsustainable and fiscally irresponsible in light of deductions from the Sectoral Financial Balances (SFB) model.
In Part II I continued with a discussion of political legitimacy and usurpation issues and then covered some legal objections to using the $100 T platinum coin option related to the “intent” of the coin law. In Part III, I discussed a legal objection based on Wallach’s view of the intent of the coin law, which quickly morphed into a political objection about the desirability of mutual respect and comity among the three branches of government, as well as the threat to political legitimacy arising from the judgment that the platinum coin option is really “weird.”
In Part IV, I covered more of Wallach’s “weirdness” as well as other talking points about “public scoffing,” “in principle opposition to budget constraints and “common sense,” showing, I believe, that these are not valid concerns.

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Some Platinum Coin Objections from the Mainstream: Part IV

November 14, 2015

This is Part IV of my reply to Philip Wallach’s reply to my evaluation of his views on the platinum coin proposal and other options for settling debt ceiling conflicts. In Part I I discussed some preliminary mis-characterizations of what I said and, more importantly, why the commonly recognized fiscal policy rule that, at least over a number of years, government revenues ought to match government spending is fiscally unsustainable and fiscally irresponsible in light of deductions from the Sectoral Financial Balances (SFB) model.
In Part II I continued with a discussion of political legitimacy and usurpation issues and then covered some legal objections to using the $100 T platinum coin option related to the “intent” of the coin law. In Part III I discussed a legal objection based on Wallach’s view of the intent of the coin law, which quickly morphed into a political objection about the desirability of mutual respect and comity among the three branches of government, as well as the threat to political legitimacy arising from the judgment that the platinum coin option is really “weird.”
In this, Part IV, I’ll continue discussing the “weirdness” objection, and also cover Wallach’s views on Inflation and hyper-inflation, and Modern Money Theory.
More on Weirdness
Wallach again brings Mike Castle to the argument:
. . .

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Some Platinum Coin Objections from the Mainstream: Part III

November 13, 2015

This is Part III of my lengthy reply to Philip Wallach’s reply to my evaluation of his views on the platinum coin proposal and other options for settling debt ceiling conflicts. In Part I I discussed some preliminary mis-characterizations of what I said and, more importantly, why the commonly recognized fiscal policy rule that, at least over a number of years, government revenues ought to match government spending is fiscally unsustainable and fiscally irresponsible in light of deductions from the Sectoral Financial Balances (SFB) model. In Part II I continued with a discussion of political legitimacy and usurpation issues and then covered some legal objections to using the $100 T platinum coin option related to the “intent” of the coin law.
In this installment I’ll continue with more discussion of political objections.

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Some Platinum Coin Objections from the Mainstream: Part II

November 12, 2015

I began a lengthy critical reply to Philip Wallach’s reply to my earlier analysis of his paper in Part I of this series. There I covered some preliminary mis-characterizations of what I said and, more importantly, why the commonly recognized fiscal policy rule that, at least over a number of years, government revenues ought to match government spending is fiscally unsustainable and fiscally irresponsible in light of deductions from the Sectoral Financial Balances (SFB) model. In this Part II, I’ll cover some conjectures about political legitimacy Wallach offers about the consequences of minting a $100 T, some legal legitimacy issues, and some additional political legitimacy issues.
Conjectures about Political Legitimacy
Wallach offers this next comment on my earlier post:
Firestone criticizes my misgivings about the platinum coin option’s legitimacy as mere “conjecture,” and argues that minting trillion dollar platinum coins (or much higher values—more on that later) for seignorage purposes would be legitimate in both senses of the word: a valid and defensible interpretation of the law, and accepted by the public as a legitimate government action. Of course I must plead guilty to making conjectures—it is impossible to say with certainty what would happen if the government took such a radically unprecedented step.

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Some Platinum Coin Objections from the Mainstream: Part I

November 12, 2015

As I was working my way through the series of posts beginning with this one, news was announced that Republican and Democratic Party leaders in Congress, along with the President had come to agreement on the terms of ending the debt ceiling standoff in the context of a new budget deal. Their agreement provides for suspension of the debt ceiling until March of 2017; so the immediate need to turn to unusual solutions to a pending debt ceiling crisis is now gone, and, along with it, crisis-driven discussions about the platinum coin option.
Nevertheless, even though the immediate reason motivating renewed discussions of the platinum coin option is now gone, I still have some unfinished business dealing with the issues surrounding it. Late last week I replied to a paper from Philip Wallach of The Brookings Institution with a post at Naked Capitalism, as well as a number of other sites in the blogosphere. Now, Wallach has replied to my post, which mostly presents new arguments not in his original paper.
These are important to answer for the record, since platinum coin options and debt ceiling issues are likely to return again in the future, especially if we still have divided government in 2017, a very good possibility, I think.

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Who Needs Balanced Trade? Who Needs Balance Budgets: A New Book on Trade and Fiscal Policy

October 29, 2015

The intensity of the conflict over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has died down since last June, after the Administration won its victory in getting Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) through Congress. During the Intervening months, the efforts of the Special Trade Representative (STR) to complete TPP negotiations have continued. At the end of June, the goal was to complete negotiations by August so that the Administration could send the Agreement to Congress in enough time to start the clock on the 90-day countdown period Congress has to vote on an agreement negotiated under the TPA, and to schedule a ratification vote on it before the end of 2015.
That “plan” however, if it was that, rather than a forlorn hope, was quickly dashed by an assessment of the issues still outstanding at the end of July. At that time (on July 24th) Lori Wallach of Public Citizen, one of the leading policy analysts participating in the fight over the TPP, gave the following estimate:
TPP proponents are eager for Congress to vote on a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal in late 2015. But to do so, given Fast Track’s statutorily-required timeframe of notice periods and pre-vote reports, TPP negotiations must be completed – and the TPP text itself – by the end of July.

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The Platinum Coin Returns

October 22, 2015

Upon my oath, I didn’t intend to bring back the coin proposal until much later in the renewed process of Republican hostage-taking over the debt ceiling. After all, there’s not much chance that the President would ever use the platinum coin option, because his budget policy direction of getting ever closer to a budget surplus, is best served by a “forced” compromise with the Republicans, that results in another few hundred billion in spending cuts for 2016, while allowing him to place the blame on them for that outcome. Using the platinum coin option would not have that result, because it would deliver a clear victory to him.
Of course, he doesn’t want a default due to Republican brinksmanship either, so if the Republicans do drag everyone too close to the cliff, then he may decide to take some extraordinary measures and the coin is one that is available, so it’s conceivable that he might choose this undoubtedly, from his point of view, distasteful option. It is for this reason, I suppose, that the Brookings Institution is warning him off the coin to weight his choice towards some more conventional approach.
The Brookings Warning
The warning was delivered in the form of a paper by Philip A.

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