Can Jill Carry Bernie’s Baton? A Look at the Green Candidate’s Radical Funding Solution

Bernie Sanders supporters are flocking to Jill Stein, the presumptive Green Party presidential candidate, with donations to her campaign exploding nearly 1000% after he endorsed Hillary Clinton. Stein salutes Sanders for the progressive populist movement he began and says it is up to her to carry the baton. Can she do it? Critics say her radical policies will not hold up to scrutiny. But supporters say they are just the medicine the economy needs.

Stein goes even further than Sanders on several key issues, and one of them is her economic platform. She has proposed a “Power to the People Plan” that guarantees basic economic human rights, including access to food, water, housing, and utilities; living-wage jobs for every American who needs to work; an improved “Medicare for All” single-payer public health insurance program; tuition-free public education through university level; and the abolition of student debt. She also supports the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall,  separating depository banking from speculative investment banking; the breakup of megabanks into smaller banks; federal postal banks to service the unbanked and under-banked; and the formation of publicly-owned banks at the state and local level.

As with Sanders’ economic proposals, her plan has been challenged as unrealistic. Where will Congress find the money?

But Stein argues that the funds can be found. Going beyond Bernie, she calls for large cuts to the bloated military budget, which makes up 55% of federal discretionary spending; and progressive taxation, ensuring that the wealthy pay their fair share. Most controversial, however, is her plan to tap up the Federal Reserve. Pointing to the massive sums the Fed produced out of the blue to bail out Wall Street, she says the same resources used to save the perpetrators of the crisis could be made available to its Main Street victims, beginning with the students robbed of their futures by massive student debt..

It Couldn’t Be Done Until It Was

Is tapping up the Fed realistic? Putting aside for the moment the mechanics of pulling it off, the central bank has indeed revealed that it has virtually limitless resources, as seen in the radical “emergency measures” taken since 2008.

The Fed first surprised Congress when it effectively “bought” AIG, a private insurance company, for $80 billion. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remarked, “Many of us were . . . taken aback when the Fed had $80 billion to invest — to put into AIG just out of the blue. All of a sudden we wake up one morning and AIG has received $80 billion from the Fed. So of course we’re saying, Where’s this money come from?”

The response was, “Oh, we have it. And not only that, we have more.”

How much more was revealed in 2011, after an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to the 2010 Wall Street reform law prompted the Government Accounting Office to conduct the first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve. It revealed that the Fed had provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the economic crisis. “This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else,” said Sanders in a press release.

Then there was the shocker of “quantitative easing” (QE), an unconventional monetary policy in which the central bank creates new money electronically to buy financial assets such as Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (many of them “toxic”) from the banks. Critics said QE couldn’t be done because it would lead to hyperinflation. But it was done, and that dire result has not occurred.

Unfortunately, the economic stimulus that QE was supposed to trigger hasn’t occurred either. QE has failed because the money has gotten no further than the balance sheets of private banks. To stimulate the demand that will jumpstart the economy, new money needs to get into the real economy and the pockets of consumers.

Why QE Hasn’t Worked, and What Would

The goal of QE as currently implemented is to return inflation to target levels by increasing private sector borrowing. But today, as economist Richard Koo explains, individuals and businesses are paying down debt rather than taking out new loans. They are doing this although credit is very cheap, because they need to rectify their debt-ridden balance sheets in order to stay afloat. Koo calls it a “balance sheet recession.”

As the Bank of England recently acknowledged, the vast majority of the money supply is now created by banks when they make loans. Money is created when loans are made, and it is extinguished when they are paid off. When loan repayment exceeds borrowing, the money supply “deflates” or shrinks. New money then needs to be injected to fill the breach. Currently, the only way to get new money into the economy is for someone to borrow it into existence; and since the private sector is not borrowing, the public sector must, just to replace what has been lost in debt repayment. But government borrowing from the private sector means running up interest charges and hitting deficit limits.

The alternative is to do what governments arguably should have been doing all along: issue the money directly to fund their budgets.

Central bankers have largely exhausted their toolkits, prompting some economists to  recommend some form of “helicopter money” – newly-issued money dropped directly into the real economy. Funds acquired from the central bank in exchange for government securities could be used to build infrastructure, issue a national dividend, or purchase and nullify federal debt. Nearly interest-free loans could also be made by the central bank to state and local governments, in the same way they were issued to rescue an insolvent banking system.

Just as the Fed bought federal and mortgage-backed securities with money created on its books, so it could buy student or other consumer debt bundled as “asset-backed securities.” But in order to stimulate economic activity, the central bank would have to announce that the debt would never be collected on. This is similar to the form of “helicopter money” recently suggested by former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to the Japanese, using debt instruments called “non-marketable perpetual bonds with no maturity date” – bonds that can’t be sold or cashed out by the central bank and that bear no interest.

The Bernanke proposal (which he says could also be used by the US Fed in an emergency) involves the government issuing bonds, which it sells to the central bank for dollars generated digitally by the bank. The government then spends the funds directly into the economy, bypassing the banks.

Something similar could be done as a pilot project with student debt, Stein’s favorite target for relief. The US government could pay the Department of Education for the monthly payments coming due for students not in default or for whom payment had been suspended until they found employment. This would free up income in those households to spend on other consumer goods and services, boosting the economy in a form of QE for Main Street.

In QE as done today, the central bank reserves the right to sell the bonds it purchases back into the market, in order to reverse any hyperinflationary effects that may occur in the future. But selling bonds and taking back the cash is not the only way to shrink the money supply. The government could just raise taxes on sectors that are currently under-taxed (tax-dodging corporations and the super-rich) and void out the additional money it collects. Or it could nationalize “systemically important” banks that are insolvent or have failed to satisfy Dodd-Frank “living will” requirements (a category that now includes five of the country’s largest banks), and void out some of the interest collected by these newly-nationalized banks. Insolvent megabanks, rather than being bailed out by the government or “bailed in” by their private creditors and depositors, arguably should be nationalized – not temporarily, but as permanent public utilities. If the taxpayers are assuming the risks and costs, they should be getting the profits.

None of these procedures for reversing inflation would be necessary, however, if the money supply were properly monitored. In our debt-financed system, the economy is chronically short of the money needed to support a dynamic, abundant economy. New money needs to be added to the system, and this can be done without inflating prices. If the money goes into creating goods and services rather than speculative asset bubbles, supply and demand will rise together and prices will remain stable.

Is It in the President’s Toolbox?

Whether Stein as president would have the power to pull any of this off is another question. QE is the province of the central bank, which is technically “independent” from the government. However, the president does appoint the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, Chair and Vice Chair, with the approval of the Senate.

Failing that, the money might be found by following the lead of Abraham Lincoln and the American colonists and issuing it directly through the Treasury. But an issue of US Notes or Greenbacks would also require an act of Congress to change existing law.

If Stein were unable to get either of those federal bodies to act, however, she could resort to a “radical” alternative already authorized in the Constitution: an issue of large-denomination coins. The Constitution gives Congress the power to “coin Money [and] regulate the value thereof,” and Congress has delegated that power to the Treasury Secretary. When minting a trillion dollar platinum coin was suggested as a way around an artificially imposed debt ceiling in January 2013, Philip Diehl, former head of the U.S. Mint and co-author of the platinum coin law, confirmed:

In minting the $1 trillion platinum coin, the Treasury Secretary would be exercising authority which Congress has granted routinely for more than 220 years. The Secretary authority is derived from an Act of Congress (in fact, a GOP Congress) under power expressly granted to Congress in the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8).

The power just needs to be exercised, something the president can instruct the Secretary to do by executive order.

In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt engaged in a radical monetary reset when he took the dollar off the gold standard domestically. The response was, “We didn’t know you could do that.” Today the Federal Reserve and central banks globally have been engaging in radical monetary policies that have evoked a similar response, and the sky has not fallen as predicted.

As Stein quotes Alice Walker, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

The runaway success of Sanders and Trump has made it clear that the American people want real change from the establishment Democratic/Republican business-as-usual that Hillary represents. But real change is not possible within the straitjacket of a debt-ridden, austerity-based financial scheme controlled by Wall Street oligarchs. Radical economic change requires radical financial change, as Roosevelt demonstrated. To carry the baton of revolution to the finish line requires revolutionary tools, which Stein has shown she has in her toolbox.


Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. Her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 300+ blog articles are at She can be heard biweekly on “It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown” on PRN.FM.

43 Responses

  1. The biggest problem is that Jill Stein is not registered in each state; therefore, a vote for her would not move the progressive agenda forward.

    • Well-respected independent expert Richard Winger of Ballot Access News expects Stein to be on the ballot in 47 states, and she’s likely to be at least a write-in for the rest. See:

    • So your solution is to vote status quo with Hillary, or demagogue with Trump???

      • “Demagogue”– “leader of the people”, if you look at the Greek roots, is what we need. Bill, W, Obama, were all lap dogs for the bankers and establishment “elite”, the hands that fed them. Trump is financially independent, uncontrollable, and therefore hated by the establishment (including and especially the scumbag neocons on both sides). He gives every sign of genuinely being for the country and the people. The idea that Trump means status quo is laughably false-to-fact.

      • Trump has stated that he too would use the power of money printing to solve domestic economic issues citing specifically American’s control of the Federal Reserve.

        Hillary is acutely silent on the matter.

    • Why can’t we through the internet obtain literally millions of signatures to a petition demanding that Ms. Stein be allowed to participate in the upcoming debates along with Gary Johnson who has already done this. Given that the two so called leading party candidates are so despised, disliked, and distrusted, we should shame the media into allowing our so called democracy to work and include both Ms. Stein and Mr. Johnson in the so called presidential debates.

    • All but three.

  2. What if TRUMP were to Make America Great Again !
    **Why not Trump ? (RAP) Renaissance for the American People.
    Donald J Trump,
    Gandhi’s famous quote: ““First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”
    You will win with your response to your valid reasoning of ” A Monetary Sovereignty can not default because they are the issuer of the currency…
    ” if the debt is in their currency”. Period.
    OMG, OMG, OMG, Historic opportunity!
    Washington,Jefferson,Lincoln and TRUMP??
    On the same page.
    “Print the Money”: Trump’s “Reckless” Proposal Echoes Franklin and Lincoln
    Posted on May 14, 2016 by Ellen Brown
    “Print the money” has been called crazy talk, but it may be the only sane solution to a $19 trillion federal debt that has doubled in the last 10 years. The solution of Abraham Lincoln and the American colonists can still work today.
    “Reckless,” “alarming,” “disastrous,” “swashbuckling,” “playing with fire,” “crazy talk,” “lost in a forest of nonsense”: these are a few of the labels applied by media commentators to Donald Trump’s latest proposal for dealing with the federal debt.
    QUOTE …”The combination of fiat money and Globalization creates a unique moment in history where the governments of the developed economies can print money on an aggressive scale without causing inflation. They should take advantage of this once-in-history opportunity . . . .
    Returning the Power to Create Money to the People
    The right of government to issue its own money was one of the principles for which the American Revolution was fought. Americans are increasingly waking up to the fact that the vast majority of the money supply is no longer issued by the government but is created by private banks when they make loans; and that with that power goes enormous power over the economy itself.
    The issue that should be debated is one that dominated political discussion in the 19th century but that few candidates are even aware of today: should creation and control of the money supply be public or private? Donald Trump’s willingness to transgress the conservative taboo against public money creation is a welcome step in opening that debate.”( Ellen Brown)
    ****** I WILL VOTE TRUMP !!!! ..

    • Nola Elson: You must understand what Trump really said, the context of his words. HE’S SAYING THAT THE NUCLEAR OPTION SHOULD REMAIN ON THE TABLE. And he’s absolutely right – Peace through deterrence.

  3. Dennis Kucinich proposed ideal monetary reform legislation while still in Congress called the “N.E.E.D. Act”. Because of provisions eliminating fractional reserve banking the legislation didn’t pass, yet the bill’s language is in the public arena for any American to find and read, while still as relevant (perhaps more so) today as ever. .

  4. Very persuasive argument. It would seem voting for Donald or Hillary amounts to endorsement of business as usual, which has brought us to the current miasmic state of affairs. Despite The Donald’s frequent ventures into reality, such as his questioning of NATO’s purpose and function, and the notion of engaging Russia in diplomatic dialog, (What a concept!), he appears to be essentially an establishment sort of fellow. In the case of Hillary, there can be no doubt she is bought and paid for by the 1%, and that her recipe ifor the future is more of the same. Coupled with that fact, there is the matter of Hilllary’s deceit and untrustworthiness. Too many times the woman has been proven false.
    The Hillary response to the abuse and assassination of Khadafy was grotesque, ugly and shameful. No such uncivil person should occupy the leadership of this great nation. Ellen Brown’s observations regarding Jill Stein and her plans make it clear that there is a way to vote in the Presidential election. I have little hope that sufficient voters will support Jill Stein, as I intend to do, but at the very least, a larger than expected vote for her will deliver a signal regarding unrest and dissatisfaction with the status quo. Many thanks to Ellen Brown!

    • You are not paying attention or are self delusional if you think a vote for Trump is a vote for the status quo.

  5. All Jill has to do is resort to the Common Law. The central bankers and their ‘bought’ politicians (useful idiots) have committed deception, fraud and treason. Under the Common Law, no criminal is allowed to get away with or perpetuate their crimes – the act of Annulment by Jury can sort the bankers and politicians out leaving the US Treasury to create, issue and control all the debt-free liquidity needed for the American people to be prosperous, secure and happy. Simple? Very!

  6. I am delighted that Dr. Jill Stein is being increasingly recognized as a bona fide leader of the people in the forefront of the struggle for decency, fairness and democracy. I am also pleased that Senator Nina Turner is a likely choice for vice presidential slot. The time for breaking away from the corrupt two-party farce may be now!

  7. A vote for Stein, or any 3rd party candidate, is a vote for hillary. The green party could not and would not even come close to fixing America’s obama destruction. There are only 2 nominees – pick the RIGHT one. Trump is our last hope.

    • Having read no further than your first few sentences, a vote for stein is siphoning a vote from Trump – DUH. You can laugh like a clown because you haven’t got a clue. After those few sentences, your lies began to pop out and your comment began to drift into unreality.

  8. Under scrutiny and competent analysis, the Green Party is no different in their platform than any other Green Party anywhere else, aside from their “left” rhetoric they flexibly endorse war, law and order, and business-as-usual capitalist politics. Watching them in Australia or Germany you can see they just want a seat at the table.

    • You’re absolutely correct. Also, now that’s there too much interest in Stein, i’m searching diligently for the articles about her I read a couple years ago. She’s not to be trusted and has pulled some shenanigans that lost her a lot “friends.” She’s been on my s-list for a long time. People should not waste their votes on a 3rd party. Trump is our nominee and a vote for any 3rd party is a vote for hillary. Anger is driving them and they will end up biting their own noses. With hillary being a felony criminal, Trump is our only choice – and our last chance. Working for the introduction of a 3rd party can continue after this election. FYI – I am working to get rid of all political parties. We don’t need them, Without them, there would be no lobbyists, special interests, etc. And we could get back to enjoying our Constitutional freedoms & liberties and our Republic. It’s what gave us sovereignty and prosperity for hundreds of years. This election is between nationalism and globalism.

      • OMG you really are living on another planet. “working to try and get rid of all parties” This election is about holding the financial elites accountable.

        • Good for you for doing your research, If more Americans would research the candidates, we would never have gotten stuck with obama and hillary would have passed on by now.

        • If the truth is this painful for you, then you need to join the liberal democratic communists. However, the green party should do just as well for you.

  9. Reblogged this on The Most Revolutionary Act and commented:
    As part of her platform, Green Party candidate Jill Stein proposes for the US government to issue money to pay off student. Public banking advocate Ellen Brown explores existing legal options she could use to accomplish this.

  10. The Agricultural Adjustment Act passed by Congress and signed by President Roosevelt in 1933 included an amendment proposed by Sen. Elmer Thomas of Oklahoma which authorized the President to issue “greenbacks” — exactly the “helicopter money” discussed here. FDR never used this authority because — as a seventh generation scion of the oldest banking family in America — he preferred to fund his paltry “relief” programs by selling treasury bonds, thus insuring that his class — the 0.1% who then, as now, own and operate America as their private plantation — would receive bond interest income from taxpayers for decades in the future in exchange for soup-lines for 18 months in 1934-35 — long enough to win the Congressional election for Wall Street’s Donkey puppet. END THE FED NOW.

  11. […] ⇧   Can Jill Carry Bernie's Baton? A Look at the Green Candidate's Radical Funding Solution | … […]

  12. […] “Can Jill Carry Bernie’s Baton? A Look at the Green Candidate’s Radical Funding Solution&#… […]

  13. Direct the FMOC to buy student debt! If the Fed is worried about the size of its balance sheet, sell treasuries into a market demanding safe assets. End next gen debt.

  14. Unfortunately, for as long as we deem the market-paradigm and money still relevant, Ms Brown is speaking to the only solutions that are sane in an insane world. Its also a sick irony that it is Trump, of all people, also speaking to it, but how does one know it is genuine coming from him?

    • You know that it will have a good chance of not being genuine if coming from lyin’ crooked Hillary, just like we have had only phony “change” from lyin’ lazy Obama. As a builder and businessman Trump has had to take on big projects and deliver the goods as promised over and over again.

      • I know Hillary is not genuine; she is beholden to the very institutions that need to be challenged on this issue. I expect only the preservation of the status quo from her; but there is no guarantee that Trump will go that far either. What people say while on they’re on the campaign trail means very little.

        • “I expect only the preservation of the status quo from her” (Hillary).
          Yes, unfortunately the status quo sucks–corrupt, lawless, degenerate, and with all statistics down, on a trajectory to perdition.

  15. “The Constitution gives Congress the power to “coin Money [and] regulate the value thereof,” ” and the supreme Court ruled that “coin” was used as a verb meaning to create and that it applies to paper money as well. Thus, yes, she could be a Lincoln.

  16. Our economy wouldn’t be in the mess it is in today if we had enacted the “2% Appreciation/Inflation Taxation Policy” in 2000 which would get us off the boom/bust economic rollercoaster our economy has been on for the last 100 years from, World War I, Roaring Twenties, Great Depression to World War II, the Commodities Bubble, Dot Com Bubble, Primary Home Bubble Great Recession. or

  17. […] ⇧   Can Jill Carry Bernie’s Baton? A Look at the Green Candidate’s Radical Funding Solution … […]

  18. You’re kidding, right? The “United States” was created at a Constitutional Convention that was called and controlled by Hamilton’s banker friends and their shills including Paine and Franklin (Paine was a bank stockholder and Franklin’s son-in-law was a bank director); the cat (Jefferson) was in France and the mice had their way: they got centralized control of all the colonies and replaced the colony-issued, debt-free scrip with “government borrowing from the private sector (i.e., themselves)” camouflaged with a bunch of baloney about “checks and balances” and “rights”. After a bit they named themselves “The Federalist Party”, a party whose roster included all of Washington’s cabinet members (save Jefferson) and I believe all (perhaps save one) of the Washington-appointed Supreme Court Justices. The election of 1800 between Adams’ Federalist and Jefferson’s Anti-Federalist parties still stands as perhaps the most acrimonious in U.S. history. People should have to pass a test and get a license to post so others with a clue don’t have to waste their time reading nonsense.

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