If “Ryancare” Is Dead on Arrival, Can We Please Now Try Single Payer?

The Canadian plan also helps Canadians live longer and healthier than Americans. . . . We need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan, as many individual states are doing.  

— Donald Trump, The America We Deserve (2000)

The new American Health Care Act has been unveiled, and critics are calling it more flawed even than the Obamacare it was meant to replace. Dubbed “Ryancare” or “Trumpcare” (over the objection of White House staff), the Republican health care bill is under attack from left and right, with even conservative leaders calling it “Obamacare Lite”, “bad policy”, a “warmed-over substitute,” and “dead on arrival.”

The problem for both administrations is that they have been trying to fund a bloated, inefficient, and overpriced medical system with scarce taxpayer funds, without capping its costs. US healthcare costs in 2016 averaged $10,345 per person, for a total of $3.35 trillion dollars, a full 18 percent of the entire economy, twice as much as in other industrialized countries.

Ross Perot, who ran for president in 1992, had the right idea: he said all we have to do is to look at other countries that have better health care at lower cost and copy them.

So which industrialized countries do it better than the US? The answer is, all of them. Continue reading

How to Cut Infrastructure Costs in Half

Americans could save $1 trillion over 10 years by financing infrastructure through publicly-owned banks like the one that has long been operating in North Dakota.

President Donald Trump has promised to rebuild America’s airports, bridges, tunnels, roads and other infrastructure, something both Democrats and Republicans agree should be done. The country needs a full $3 trillion in infrastructure over the next decade. The $1 trillion plan revealed by Trump’s economic advisers relies heavily on public-private partnerships, and private equity firms are lining up for these plumbing investments. In the typical private equity water deal, for example, higher user rates help the firms earn annual returns of anywhere from 8 to 18 percent – more even than a regular for-profit water company might expect. But the price tag can come as a rude surprise for local ratepayers. Continue reading

The Italian Banking Crisis: No Free Lunch – Or Is There?

It has been called “a bigger risk than Brexit”– the Italian banking crisis that could take down the eurozone. Handwringing officials say “there is no free lunch” and “no magic bullet.” But UK Prof. Richard Werner says the magic bullet is just being ignored. 

On December 4, 2016, Italian voters rejected a referendum to amend their constitution to give the government more power, and the Italian prime minister resigned. The resulting chaos has pushed Italy’s already-troubled banks into bankruptcy. First on the chopping block is the 500 year old Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA (BMP), the oldest surviving bank in the world and the third largest bank in Italy. The concern is that its loss could trigger the collapse of other banks and even of the eurozone itself.

There seems little doubt that BMP and other insolvent banks will be rescued. The biggest banks are always rescued, no matter how negligent or corrupt, because in our existing system, banks create the money we use in trade. Virtually the entire money supply is now created by banks when they make loans, as the Bank of England has acknowledged. When the banks collapse, economies collapse, because bank-created money is the grease that oils the wheels of production.

So the Italian banks will no doubt be rescued. The question is, how? Continue reading

“We’ll Look at Everything”: More Thoughts on Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan

To stimulate the economy, create new jobs and generate new GDP requires an injection of new money. Borrowing from the bond markets or off-balance-sheet in public/private partnerships won’t do it. If Congress won’t issue money directly, it should borrow from banks, which create money on their books when they make loans.

The Trump agenda, it seems, is not set in stone. The president-elect has a range of advisors with as many ideas. Steven Mnuchin, his nominee for Treasury Secretary, said in November that “we’ll take a look at everything,”even the possibility of extending the maturity of the federal debt with 50-year or 100-year bonds to take advantage of unusually low interest rates.

Steve Bannon, appointed chief White House strategist, seems to be envisioning Roosevelt-style experimentation with whatever works. Continue reading

Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan: Lincoln Had a Bolder Solution

Donald Trump was an outsider who boldly stormed the citadel of Washington DC and won. He has promised real change, but his infrastructure plan appears to be just more of the same – privatizing public assets and delivering unearned profits to investors at the expense of the people. He needs to try something new; and for this he could look to Abraham Lincoln, whose bold solution was very similar to one now being considered in Europe: just print the money.

In Donald Trump’s victory speech after the presidential election, he vowed:

We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.

It sounds great; but as usual, the devil is in the details. Continue reading

Prop. 51 Versus a State-Owned Bank: How California Can Save $10 Billion on a $9 Billion Loan

School districts are notoriously short of funding – so short that some California districts have succumbed to Capital Appreciation Bonds that will cost taxpayers as much is 10 to 15 times principal by the time they are paid off. By comparison, California’s Prop. 51, the school bond proposal currently on the ballot, looks like a good deal. It would allow the state to borrow an additional $9 billion for educational purposes by selling general obligation bonds to investors at an assumed interest rate of 5%, with the bonds issued over a five-year period and repaid over 30 years. $9 billion × 5% × 35 equals $15.75 billion in interest – nearly twice principal, but not too bad compared to the Capital Appreciation Bond figures.

However, there is a much cheaper way to fund this $9 billion school debt. By borrowing from its own state-chartered, state-owned bank, the state could save over $10 billion – on a $9 billion loan. Here is how. Continue reading

Central Bank Digital Currencies: A Revolution in Banking?

Several central banks, including the Bank of England, the People’s Bank of China, the Bank of Canada and the Federal Reserve, are exploring the concept of issuing their own digital currencies, using the blockchain technology developed for Bitcoin. Skeptical commentators suspect that their primary goal is to eliminate cash, setting us up for negative interest rates (we pay the bank to hold our deposits rather than the reverse).

But Ben Broadbent, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, puts a more positive spin on it. He says Central Bank Digital Currencies could supplant the money now created by private banks through “fractional reserve” lending – and that means 97% of the circulating money supply. Rather than outlawing bank-created money, as money reformers have long urged, fractional reserve banking could be made obsolete simply by attrition, preempted by a better mousetrap.  The need for negative interest rates could also be eliminated, by giving the central bank more direct tools for stimulating the economy. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?

Fifteen years after embarking on its largely ineffective quantitative easing program, Japan appears poised to try the form recommended by Ben Bernanke in his notorious “helicopter money” speech in 2002. The Japanese test case could finally resolve a longstanding dispute between monetarists and money reformers over the economic effects of government-issued money.

When then-Fed Governor Ben Bernanke gave his famous helicopter money speech to the Japanese in 2002, he was talking about something quite different from the quantitative easing they actually got and other central banks later mimicked. Quoting Milton Friedman, he said the government could reverse a deflation simply by printing money and dropping it from helicopters. A gift of free money with no strings attached, it would find its way into the real economy and trigger the demand needed to power productivity and employment. Continue reading

The War on Weed Part II: Monsanto, Bayer, and the Push for Corporate Cannabis

California’s “Adult Use of Marijuana Act” (AUMA) is a voter initiative characterized as legalizing marijuana use. But critics warn that it will actually make access more difficult and expensive, squeeze home growers and small farmers out of the market, heighten criminal sanctions for violations, and open the door to patented, genetically modified (GMO) versions that must be purchased year after year. 

As detailed in Part I of this article, the health benefits of cannabis are now well established. It is a cheap, natural alternative effective for a broad range of conditions, and the non-psychoactive form known as hemp has thousands of industrial uses. At one time, cannabis was one of the world’s most important crops. There have been no recorded deaths from cannabis overdose in the US, compared to about 30,000 deaths annually from alcohol abuse (not counting auto accidents), and 100,000 deaths annually from prescription drugs taken as directed. Yet cannabis remains a Schedule I controlled substance (“a deadly dangerous drug with no medical use and high potential for abuse”), illegal to be sold or grown in the US.

Powerful corporate interests no doubt had a hand in keeping cannabis off the market. The question now is why they have suddenly gotten on the bandwagon for its legalization. According to an April 2014 article in The Washington Times, the big money behind the recent push for legalization has come, not from a grassroots movement, but from a few very wealthy individuals with links to Big Ag and Big Pharma. Continue reading

Brexit and the Derivatives Time Bomb

Brexit could trigger a $500 trillion derivatives meltdown, by forcing the EU to allow insolvent member governments and banks to write down debt. Italy is in financial crisis and is already petitioning for that concession. How to avoid collapse of the massive derivatives house of cards? Alternatives are considered.

Sovereign debt – the debt of national governments – has ballooned from $80 trillion to $100 trillion just since 2008. Squeezed governments have been driven to radical austerity measures, privatizing public assets, slashing public services, and downsizing work forces in a futile attempt to balance national budgets. But the debt overhang just continues to grow.

Austerity has been pushed to the limit and hasn’t worked. But default or renegotiating the debt seems to be off the table. Why? Continue reading

Hon. Paul Hellyer on “It’s Our Money”

Mayer Rothschild is famously quoted as saying “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!” – and so it is. When we look at the distribution of capital, we see that those who control the franchise of creating money through loans and debt rule our world. Ellen speaks with one of the planet’s oldest serving statesmen, Canada’s Paul Hellyer, about the nature of this controlling franchise and about the alternatives still available. Walt McRee speaks with Lisa Cody, a researcher for the Service Employees International Union, who did a landmark study of the outrageous costs Los Angeles has paid private financiers as part of our ongoing series What Wall Street Costs America, and Matt Stannard comments on the increasingly popular idea of providing a basic income to people as one way of balancing the scales against the controlling interests. Archived here.

As the War on Weed Winds Down, Will Monsanto Be the Big Winner?

The war on cannabis that began in the 1930s seems to be coming to an end. Research shows that this natural plant, rather than posing a deadly danger to health, has a wide range of therapeutic benefits. But skeptics question the sudden push for legalization, which is largely funded by wealthy investors linked to Big Ag and Big Pharma.

In April, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical cannabis, a form of the plant popularly known as marijuana. That makes nearly half of US states. A major barrier to broader legalization has been the federal law under which all cannabis – even the very useful form known as industrial hemp – is classed as a Schedule I controlled substance that cannot legally be grown in the US. But that classification could change soon. In a letter sent to federal lawmakers in April, the US Drug Enforcement Administration said it plans to release a decision on rescheduling marijuana in the first half of 2016. Continue reading

Panel, June 18th, Long Beach, CA – “Big Banks and Their Changing Impact on Business and the Safety of Our Money: Is Public Banking an Alternative?”

Long Beach PB panel 6-18-16California Democratic Party Business and Professional Caucus, Saturday at 6:30 June 18th, at the Long Beach Hyatt Regency Hotel, 200 S. Pine Ave, Long Beach.

  • Moderator – Ray Bishop, Chair, Business & Professional Caucus, County Small Business Commission, City Commission Industrial Development Authority, Business Owner.
  • Ellen Brown – Attorney and Founder of the National Public Banking Institute, author of twelve books including “Web of Debt” and “The Public Bank Solution”.
  • Mike Gatto – California Assemblyman and Attorney, Chair of the Utilities & Commerce Committee, served as Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Chairman of the Privacy & Consumer Protection. Introduced legislation to establish the “rainy day fund” and Co-Authored AB750 to Create Public Banking in California.
  • John Batiste – Forty Years of Commercial Banking Experience, New York & California. Senior Vice President & Regional Manager specializing in Business & General Banking.
  • Joel Luxenberg – Entrepreneur and advocate for the JOBS Act legislation. Instrumental in developing innovative alternatives to banking to include an active role in Crowdfunder and Investedin. Served as a founder and shareholder in Venture Capital Funds.  Lectured around the world on the impact of EB5 investing and small business entrepreneurship.
  • Kevin Klowden – Managing Economist, Milken Institute & Director of the California Center.  Extensive experience in government affairs and has participated in and hosted events around the world to include the Federal Reserve System & the World Economy. Graduate Degrees from the University of Chicago & London School of Economics.
  • Barbara Polsky – Attorney and Partner, Manat, Phelps & Phillips, one of the nation’s most prominent Banking Law Firms, founded by Chuck Manatt also a founder of LA Bank and Chair of the Democratic Party, Barbara has extensive experience representing numerous domestic and foreign banks as well as major other financial institutions and is well versed in regulatory and compliance matters and M&A.
  • Special Guests: Lisa Pinto, Russell Baldwin, Frank Sanitate, Jeffrey Leckich

On “It’s Our Money”: Rozanne Junker on the Bank of North Dakota, Parts 1 & 2

The Bank of North Dakota started a century ago with the simple goal of service to citizen victims of the Wall Street monopoly. It now inspires the hopes of citizens nationwide, as they struggle to wrest their financial freedom from the same financial masters. Ellen talks with Dr. Rozanne Enerson Junker, who got her doctorate studying how this upstart institution took on the big banks and turned a challenged economy into a financial powerhouse of service to its owners, the people of North Dakota. Rozanne is featured in a documentary called “The Bank of North Dakota,” linked below. Walt McRee then talks with Tom Tresser about a new collaborative book called “Chicago is Not Broke – Funding the City We Deserve” — there’s more money laying around than most citizens know. And Matt Stannard discusses What Wall Street Costs America with a focus on Detroit and Harrison, NJ – yet more victims of the global banking cartels that keep America under the thumb of debt servitude. Listen to the archive here.

In Part II of Rozanne’s interview, played on June 8th’s show, we continue our conversation about the founding factors and functional dimensions of America’s only state-owned public bank.  Ellen also discusses block-chain technology with co-host Walt McRee, while this week’s What Wall Street Costs America examines the impact of predatory banking costs on the city of Detroit —  Matt Stannard talks with Tom Stevens of “Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management.” Archived here.

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“Print the Money”: Trump’s “Reckless” Proposal Echoes Franklin and Lincoln

“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. On Monday, May 9th, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate said on CNN, “You print the money.” Continue reading

Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?

Despite North Dakota’s collapsing oil market, its state-owned bank continues to report record profits. This article looks at what California, with fifty times North Dakota’s population, could do following that state’s lead.

In November 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the nation’s only state-owned depository bank, was more profitable even than J.P. Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. The author attributed this remarkable performance to the state’s oil boom; but the boom has now become an oil bust, yet the BND’s profits continue to climb. Its 2015 Annual Report, published on April 20th, boasted its most profitable year ever. Continue reading

The War on Savings: The Panama Papers, Bail-Ins, and the Push to Go Cashless

Exposing tax dodgers is a worthy endeavor, but the “limited hangout” of the Panama Papers may have less noble ends, dovetailing with the War on Cash and the imminent threat of massive bail-ins of depositor funds.

The bombshell publication of the “Panama Papers,” leaked from a Panama law firm specializing in shell companies, has triggered both outrage and skepticism. In an April 3 article titled “Corporate Media Gatekeepers Protect Western 1% From Panama Leak,” UK blogger Craig Murray writes that the whistleblower no doubt had good intentions; but he made the mistake of leaking his 11.5 million documents to the corporate-controlled Western media, which released only those few documents incriminating opponents of Western financial interests. Continue reading

This week on “It’s Our Money”: Stephen Lendman and Going Cashless

lendmanKiss your cash goodbye! The word is that things would be more convenient, crooks would be confounded and diseases might be thwarted if we’d just get rid of filthy currency as the most essential form of personal financial liquidity. Currently circulating in the corridors of world financial powers, it may appear as an enlightened technical step forward to eliminate cash, but is it also a stalking horse for yet another way global bank interests can separate you from your assets? Ellen speaks with renowned author and media figure Stephen Lendman about why this idea is appearing now and what’s happening behind the scenes that’s moving it forward. Also behind the scenes is a huge and stark reality about municipal debt to Wall Street that the Public Banking Institute is targeting in its new project called What Wall Street Costs America. Co-host Walt McRee speaks with PBI’s Matt Stannard on this groundbreaking campaign. Listen here.

Exposing the Libyan Agenda: A Closer Look at Hillary’s Emails

Critics have long questioned why violent intervention was necessary in Libya. Hillary Clinton’s recently published emails confirm that it was less about protecting the people from a dictator than about money, banking, and preventing African economic sovereignty.

The brief visit of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Libya in October 2011 was referred to by the media as a “victory lap.” “We came, we saw, he died!” she crowed in a CBS video interview on hearing of the capture and brutal murder of Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi.

But the victory lap, write Scott Shane and Jo Becker in the New York Times, was premature. Libya was relegated to the back burner by the State Department, “as the country dissolved into chaos, leading to a civil war that would destabilize the region, fueling the refugee crisis in Europe and allowing the Islamic State to establish a Libyan haven that the United States is now desperately trying to contain.” Continue reading