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A Modest Proposal

In Andrew Cockburn’s recent essay [“Hard Times,” Letter from Washington, February], I was quoted as calling for a New Deal 2.0. I would like to elaborate here on what I meant, and the mechanism by which we might pay for it.

Our pandemic-hobbled economy has been propped up by minimal payments to struggling Americans and maximal funds for Wall Street, amounting to a massive wealth redistribution that will only fuel the politics of alienation and resentment. A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office indicates a broader economic recovery may take four years. Fiscal policy is trapped by monetary policy, which has hit a wall.

There is a path around this, and it involves Congress reasserting its constitutional responsibility to coin money. Congress should establish a new monetary authority under the Treasury Department. Its governing principle would be to ensure that the money supply is sufficient to meet the economic demand.

As it stands, the Fed executes actions concerning monetary policy. Under the new authority, banks could continue to profit by lending money, and could also borrow from the Treasury. The authority would advise the Treasury on the money supply, and the Treasury would in turn advise Congress on the amount of money required to pay off our debt, supplementing existing revenues to fund infrastructure renewal, grants, and loans to state and local governments.

By aligning monetary and fiscal policy, we can protect our national sovereignty, rebuild our economy, pay off the national debt, reduce (or even eliminate) federal deficits, and guarantee that the dollar remains a stable currency. What I’m recommending is not a quick fix but a structural change that would empower the government to function in the interest of all Americans. This is the path to a New Deal 2.0. The time has come for a deeper discussion of our monetary policy and its ability to serve the people.

Dennis Kucinich


Shades of Gray

While I agree with Thomas Chatterton Williams [“Shades of Blue,” Easy Chair, February] that a major limitation of white progressives is their tendency to speak more than listen, his insistence that non-white people are turned off by the Democratic Party mostly because of “the online activist class” rings false.

The Democratic Party is failing people—especially people of color— because it refuses to adopt policies that address persistent poverty, a corrupted health care system, and institutional oppression. Instead, prominent Democrats offer empty platitudes while passing legislation that helps Wall Street. Vulnerable Americans have every reason to distrust the establishment.

Jim Clyburn was my representative for the decade I lived in Charleston, South Carolina. I have the utmost respect for him and support many of his views, but I think it hurts the Democrats when senior members lampoon the newer voices in the party (many of whom are not white) because their ideas are too “radical” or “extreme.” More than anything, I fear that the Democratic establishment suffers from a lack of imagination. While compromises are necessary in a divided Congress, why must public discourse shy away from envisioning new ways of governing and taking care of one another? Why is it that the majority of Americans support Medicare for All yet elected officials continue to discredit its implementation as unrealistic?

I also find Williams’s take on defunding police departments shortsighted. He claims that white people who do not know what it is like to live in under-policed areas are the ones blowing the issue out of proportion. I live in Detroit, a city known for both high levels of crime and police corruption. The local activist group seeking to take the Detroit Police Department to task for its practices, Detroit Will Breathe, was founded by black residents and is supported by a vast network of allies, white and non-white. These activists aren’t just going on Facebook to garner likes; they are marching, emailing, making calls, and attending local government meetings.

While it’s true that polls show that most black Americans don’t support defunding the police, it’s also true that the narrative around defunding has been sensationalized by the mainstream media. The movement isn’t predicated on closing police departments overnight, but on rerouting resources toward social services that communities lack.

There is a marked division between those of us who want to challenge police departments and those who do not, but it has little to do with “coastal elites” on Twitter.

Megan Summers

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April 2021

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