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To read more about Episode 220, visit the main episode page.
Michael Moore [00:00:45] This is Rumble with Michael Moore, and I’m Michael Moore. We have an excellent guest returning to Rumble here today. The great economist Stephanie Kelton is going to help explain what’s happening with the economy, what we should be thinking about when we hear them talking about inflation and what Democrats in Congress need to be doing right now to help the economy and help the American people.
Michael Moore [00:01:11] But before we bring Stephanie out here, I have a special Thanksgiving episode request for all of you. And this year, I’m going to put my Thanksgiving episode together a couple of days before Thanksgiving, usually every year on that day I go live. Usually, I step away from dinner, so nobody can hear me and quietly I speak to all of you, checking in to see how it’s going with your conservative brother in law, your QAnon aunt or whatever. Actually, it’s just gotten worse. So this year I thought what I would do instead of, you know, interrupting your dinner and my dinner to commiserate with our situation, that I am going to give out some advice, some coping techniques, to all of you and some good talking points to those at the table that just seem to be a lost cause.
Michael Moore [00:02:09] So here’s what I want you to do. I want you to participate in next week’s episode with me, but I want you to do it now or over the weekend. I want you to send me questions or concerns that you have before entering your Thanksgiving dinner debate with Uncle Ned. Or Grandpa Herb. All right. I’m not going to wait till that day to help you out. I’m going to help you out beforehand. So what questions do you think I could help you with? What do you need an answer to that can make your Thanksgiving dinner more pleasant this year? You know what I’m talking about? I have a ton of built up advice because most of us didn’t get to have Thanksgiving last year, so I’ve got two years of thoughts about this, about how to deal with the unruly conservatives at the table.
Michael Moore [00:03:02] So all you have to do is email me at Mike@MichaelMoore.com or send me a voicemail. There’s a link right here on the description page of this episode, all you do is click on it and it sends you to my voicemail and you get one minute. I have to limit it to a minute because, you know, a lot of people call it. What is it that you need help with at Thanksgiving dinner? How can I help you? Just think of me as an invisible dinner guest. I’ll be sitting right next to you, helping you deal with the curmudgeons who have decided to eat Turkey with you.
Michael Moore [00:03:46] And for those of you who have been so generous in letting them in the house when you know they shouldn’t be there. All I can say is, God bless you. Or good luck with that. Also, I want to give a big thank you to all of you who keep continuing to check out the new Moore store with our Rumble T-shirts and coffee mugs and ball caps and and other various items that would make a nice holiday gift here. So go to the Moore Store. That’s it. A portion of all the proceeds goes to help the various causes and movements that we support here on this podcast, and some of it also goes to help the efforts to bring back the arts and civics in our public schools. So it’s all there.
Michael Moore [00:04:43] And thank you to all of you who have already got your Christmas gifts there for people. It’s very cool. I also want to thank all of you who have written to me suggesting new items for The Moore Store. I love this. We’re going to do some of this. If you have any ideas, just email me Mike@MichaelMoore.com and we’ll see what you can get up to here after the holidays.
Michael Moore [00:05:06] And a quick reminder to all of you that you can go to MichaelMoore.com right now and sign up for my free email list. You should be on this list. You’re listening to my podcast. You’ll get all these Rumble podcasts emailed to you. You’ll get everything that I write, all my columns and letters and things like that. It’s all for free. You’ll get news and updates and things that we’re all working on, things that we’re trying to make better in this country. So just go to MichaelMoore.com and sign up. It’s free. It’s a free sign up. A box will pop up. It’ll ask you if you want to be a member, which you can do for, you know, five bucks a month or whatever. But you don’t have to be a member.
Michael Moore [00:05:47] I don’t put my columns or podcasts behind any kind of paywall. So just sign up and that’ll be a nice Christmas gift to me, just to see all of you on my master list so that I can easily send you this podcast and easily send you my letter each week. And now let’s bring out our guests here on Rumble today. Stephanie Kelton.
Michael Moore [00:09:56] So let’s just get right to it. Whenever we have a Democratic president or a Democratic Congress in power and they are discussing plans to actually help the American people with health care, child care, elder care, education, we the public get bombarded with a corporate propaganda campaign warning us that we can’t afford to do it. We just can’t afford to do it. And there are two big talking points that corporate America, the politicians fund and the media that they own, two big talking points that they rally around to warn us that we can’t have the government invest in these popular things that the majority of the American people want. And what are their two big talking points? The deficit. And what’s the other talking point? Inflation. They pound away at this.
Michael Moore [00:11:03] And right now, panic about inflation is their biggest angle. Now here’s the thing. There’s often a kernel of truth to these lies. Actually, the lies that work the best are the ones that have a kernel of truth in them. If I tell you that there’s a martian out on my porch right now watching me do this podcast, that’s a lie. And you know it’s a lie and I can’t sell it because there is no kernel of truth to it. But this is how they’re getting away with this, they’ve got us all believing that inflation is going to be the end of us. Yes, prices are higher right now, that’s the kernel of truth.
Michael Moore [00:11:43] Prices are higher right now for a lot of the goods we need and buy. And yes, there are reports out that say that prices have risen 6.2 percent from last October compared to this October. But like a well-oiled machine, the corporate class has now unified to take this inflation panic and use it to weaken President Biden and to try to prevent him from passing his signature Build Back Better human infrastructure legislation. That’s the bill with all the good stuff in it to help vast sums of American people. So to help us untangle these lies, these half truths, we are joined today by one of our favorite economists, Stephanie Kelton.
Michael Moore [00:12:32] She is a professor of economics and public policy at Stony Brook University, and she was the chief economist for the US Senate Budget Committee in 2015 and the senior economic advisor to Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. She’s the author of “The Deficit Myth, Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy” and that came out just last year in 2020. Stephanie also has a newsletter on Substack, as do I. It’s called The Lens with Stephanie Kelton, and you can read it by typing in StephanieKelton.Substack.com. Stephanie, welcome back to Rumble.
Stephanie Kelton [00:13:22] Thank you so much. It’s awesome to be back with you.
Michael Moore [00:13:25] I want to dive right into this inflation thing. So things have risen 6.2 percent since last October. And my first thought is, I hope so, because last October, it was at zero. I mean, the economy was essentially wrecked. And, you know, none of us knew where things were going to go. So can you tell me and my listeners about how inflation really works? And remember, we are civilians, and most of us did not do well in math or the sciences. So how does it work? Just the basic explanation and what are the things that really impact it?
Stephanie Kelton [00:14:03] OK, so probably a lot of people who are listening to this are thinking, maybe they’ve heard that inflation happens when you have too much money chasing too few goods. That’s sort of everybody’s heard that before. So if you start there and you say, OK, well, then how do I think about the inflation that we’re experiencing today. Is it the case that what happened is that somebody made too much money happen? Or is it the case that we’re dealing with too few goods now? Lots of Republicans and a few Democrats – Joe Manchin – comes to mind. You know, they’re sort of out there suggesting that the government overdid it. Basically, all of the all of the fiscal support, the checks that went out, the unemployment insurance from the federal government, that Congress just put too much money into people’s hands and that this is the price of all of that fiscal support, and people have too much money and they’re running around trying to spend it into the economy that’s driving up inflation.
Stephanie Kelton [00:15:10] Now, the other way to look at it is to say, Well, let’s see. We’re in a pandemic. We’ve been in a pandemic for the better part of, you know, 18 months plus and people shifted the way they spend money. We weren’t able to go out in the early part of the pandemic. You couldn’t go to a coffee shop or a restaurant or a hotel. You couldn’t go to the gym, you couldn’t go to the salon and so forth. So we spent a whole lot less of our money on services and we shifted to buying goods. We were home. Many of us, if we were fortunate working from home, maybe we upgraded our computers, our home offices. We bought new furniture. Some of us remodeled homes and appliances.
Stephanie Kelton [00:15:53] We bought computers and tablets for kids. So we bought goods. Goods have to be produced somewhere. They have to be manufactured and we have a global economy and a global supply chain. And goods have to be brought to market. Well, where do they come from? Well, they come from all parts of the world. And so, you know, what we’re experiencing now is so overwhelmingly due to pandemic induced spike in goods consumption relative to services. And then all of these supply chain bottlenecks, everybody has seen it on TV. You’ve heard the stories, you know, the ports are backed up, ships are floating out there in the ocean waiting to unload.
Stephanie Kelton [00:16:33] So the stuff is there. It’s just we’re having some trouble getting it off the ships, getting the containers unloaded onto trucks, driven to the warehouses into the end consumer. And Michael we’re working through this stuff. We’re seeing the supply chain begin. You know, the links, if you think of a chain, right, it’s got many links. And if any one of those links breaks, then you can’t get from the beginning of the chain to the end. You need the whole thing to stand strong.
Stephanie Kelton [00:17:05] And we’ve had breakages because you get to an outbreak of COVID and you know, a factory gets hit in Taiwan or Malaysia or China, and you shut down the third largest port or partially shut down the third largest port in the world. And so it has disrupted the flow. And when those links start breaking, we see rising prices. And so that’s what we’ve been dealing with, but we’re working through it.
Michael Moore [00:17:34] So, yes, I think to a lot of people this makes sense about the supply chain piece. But trying to put that on Joe Biden that there are all those ships docked out at sea off Long Beach. And I don’t know by Oakland, maybe. But what on earth could he have done differently to prevent the so-called supply chain problem that we’re having?
Stephanie Kelton [00:18:05] Well, look, he walked in the door at a moment when a lot of this was already baked in. We made decisions and I say we, you know, producers, CEOs, corporate interests have decided over a long period of time that the way that they want to produce and manufacture things is this sort of “just in time model,” where you go in search of the lowest cost producer. Where can I make this small piece of this thing that I use and I assemble it together with a gazillion other pieces and it becomes the final product? Which part of the world can I manufacture that, which has, you know, the lowest environmental standards, labor standards and I get cheap wages and all the rest of it?
Stephanie Kelton [00:18:51] I go there, I produce that part, that piece, and then I have to move it around to get the next piece snapped on and so forth. So this is the system that we had in place, and this would have happened if Donald Trump had been reelected. The boats would be floating in the ocean. None of that would change now. There are things, I think people are talking about now about, you know, given where we are, are there things that the White House could do to start to alleviate some of the short term pressures? And I think, you know, people have pointed to things like, you know, if people are paying more at the pump, for example, we’ll help them pay less for other things. Negotiate prescription drug costs. Bring those down. Maybe that can be done through executive action.
Stephanie Kelton [00:19:36] And maybe there are some other things that President Biden could do. But dealing with, you know, the backlog at the ports, he’s trying to do things like, you know, require that people run 24-7 operations at the ports and try to ease that backlog. But it’s a big challenge.
Michael Moore [00:19:56] Let me give you my supply chain anecdotal stories. Two quick ones. One is we just started up a merch store here with my Substack and podcast site. It’s called The Moore Store, and it’s got the basic, you know, stuff. The Michael Moore ball caps and the T-shirts and the coffee mugs and all that. And I said to the people that we’re talking about this last month with: are we going to have trouble here, man? Are people going to buy this stuff for Christmas? And he said, Well, first of all, we’re not going to have a supply chain problem because everything in your store is either union made, American made, union printed. It’s all here, essentially. I mean, there’s probably a few pieces that come from someplace else. But basically my goal was to set up a merch store where the majority of the stuff, if not all of it, is either from or made here or printed here or whatever. So he said, you’re in good shape because you’re not depending on, you know, this.
Michael Moore [00:21:04] But the other thing is, they’re blowing this to such a huge extent, and people don’t really know the whole thing. You can’t explain the supply chain in 30 seconds. But he says, as a distributor, as a person who helps, you know, people like you and others with their stuff, I’m not having any problems. And my second story theater is: I’m finally after 20 months, I have two nonprofit art house theaters in Michigan, and I’m opening them tomorrow, Friday, the 19th here. And they had to be closed during the pandemic. And, you know, it’s not been a safe place to be inside with no windows, no fresh air.
Michael Moore [00:21:52] So I rehauled the system, so there’s constantly fresh air coming in. And I put in these hospital size filters that theaters don’t have. I did all these things right, but then I was told, Well, you’re going to have one problem: staff. How are you going to staff it? Nobody wants to work. Nobody wants to work. Nonstop a mantra of nobody wants to work. So I don’t think that’s true. I think if I pay them well and I think maybe people like to work around the movies, it might be fun. I don’t know. Well, what are you going to pay them? I said, I don’t know, eighteen to twenty three dollars an hour. You mean to be an usher? Yeah. Ticket taker. Yeah. I also have a COVID security personnel because we check that you’re vaccinated to come in. So it’s, you know, you got to go through a bit of a thing here. And so I put it on Indeed for $22.50 an hour. And within one hour, we had 30 to 40 applicants. In one hour.
Michael Moore [00:23:08] And by five o’clock the next day, we whittled it down to twelve and then we hired the top four. But I just, you know, I told everybody the story that nobody wants to work, and within 24 hours, I had all the people I needed for that particular job. So Stephanie, what’s going on here? Because I just gave you my two examples. I could be an outlier here, but I’m really tired of listening to this…And I say to the people in the town where I live in Michigan, Yeah, maybe the reason why you’re having trouble finding people is that you’re paying them $9.30 an hour, which is the Michigan minimum wage. You know, maybe you should just offer them a little bit more.
Michael Moore [00:24:04] I can’t believe you were offering people $22. Well, that’s what it takes now. Thank God that people can make it. If we had the Bernie Minimum Wage of $15 an hour, oh my God, it would raise so many people up in the state of Michigan with that. You know, I’m paying double to triple that. And yes, I have no problem getting people, but I’m not out to make a profit. So I guess that’s the big difference, right? I don’t know, what is the difference?
Stephanie Kelton [00:24:34] Yeah, I mean this is kind of a simple…
Michael Moore [00:24:37] You’re laughing now.
Stephanie Kelton [00:24:37] I’m laughing because this is not hard. If you want to hire workers, there is a wage. And some people have a reservation wage. They will not come to work in the middle of a pandemic where, as you said, they can anticipate a certain amount of abuse. You know, some segment of the population is and can be hostile to workers when they’re asked to conform with COVID protocols and so forth. We’ve seen it on TV. We’ve seen people, you know, get spit on and punched in the face and all the rest of it. So you know where, especially in these kinds of service, front facing, interacting with the public, if you offer people a safe place to work, which you’ve done and a good wage and you’ve done that, and lo and behold, you find that people are not only willing but eager to come out and compete for jobs like these. So I don’t think this is a mystery at all. I think what workers want is a safe work environment and, you know, decent compensation. It’s not a whole hell of a lot to ask for.
Michael Moore [00:25:42] OK, why is it left to people like you and myself to give a lesson in capitalism to the capitalists? And I tell people, store owners, whatever, in town, you know, all you gotta do is just pay a living wage. And let’s be smart, for some of these jobs, you don’t need a college education. Let people compete for these jobs. I didn’t make it through school. I made it through a year and a half of college. Yes, I’m going to pay you $22.50 an hour and you don’t need a college degree to be there. And I had them trained by people from the Department of Public Health. I brought in a conflict resolution and de-escalation trainer to train them. And that’s really what they needed to be safe and to do this safely. You want to live a good life and make a decent wage. What is so hard about that? And why are you and I, the ones trying to convince people who believe in capitalism, wouldn’t they just make this equation on their own and they’d say, Wow, if I just paid a little bit more, I’m going to make a lot more. What’s wrong with this picture here?
Stephanie Kelton [00:27:00] Yeah. I don’t know how to answer it, except to say that employers have gotten accustomed to very cheap labor and a pool of unemployed workers, who are essentially desperate for any job. And they haven’t had maybe the kind of negotiating power that many workers now feel like they do enjoy. You know, for the first time in a very long time, there are actually more job vacancies than job seekers. That hasn’t happened in a long time.
Michael Moore [00:27:31] I don’t know if it’s happened in my lifetime.
Michael Moore [00:27:33] Yeah. And, you know, we had a recession, right? COVID induced a recession. It was the shortest recession in U.S. history, but the recession before that was the Wall Street induced recession. It was the subprime housing crisis. Right?Yeah. And now that so-called recovery was very anemic and bad for workers’ recovery, in fact, the jobs that came back were inferior to the jobs that were lost. It took more than six years to claw back all of the jobs that were lost in the last recession. And when they came back, they were inferior to the jobs that were lost. And what I mean is that they were lower waged and lower houred jobs. So employers have had the benefit of cheap, desperate workers for decades. And you know, this is kind of coming as a shock to the system for them and they’re complaining about it.
Michael Moore [00:28:30] Yes. Because last time around, the last piece of that ’08 Wall Street banking crisis was the fact that General Motors and Chrysler went belly up. And so the new President Obama had to step in and essentially have the government take them over and repurpose them, get their books in order. And Obama became the de facto CEO of General Motors and Chrysle. But basically, he was in charge. The government was in charge. The way that he and Biden and others at the time decided to pull ourselves out of that crisis was to do what you just said. So, for instance, my friends who work on the assembly line, General Motors in Flint or Detroit, I don’t know what they were making before that crash, but I’m going to say $25 to 30 dollars an hour plus benefits. Obama and the government, the Larry Summers of our world, made it so that, yes, we’re going to get General Motors reopened.
Michael Moore [00:29:44] The government is not going to be running a car company. But you, the workers, are going to have to, especially the new workers, the ones that are going to come in after this crisis, you’re going to get paid $10 an hour, $12 an hour. That’s it. Pay was like literally cut in half. People were desperate for work, people were losing their homes. What are they going to do? And so they agreed to be an auto worker, and the union had to go along with this. No pensions. Please don’t even use the B-word. So it ended up being a bad thing. This crisis, this is why the wealthy and the owners are just flipped out, because this crisis has not resulted in people being pushed down further.
Stephanie Kelton [00:30:45] It was amazing the fiscal response this time compared to what was done under President Obama after the financial crisis triggered the Great Recession. Basically last time, you know, you got a sort of one and done. Congress did the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. That was the so-called, you know, Obama stimulus package. It was $787 billion, which sounded to many like a lot of money at the time. Larry Summers famously kept that number down. There were others around Obama at the time telling him this was never going to be sufficient. You needed to go much bigger. Or, you know, you were going to end up with a really crappy economy for a long period of time.
Stephanie Kelton [00:31:27] Larry said. No, no, no, we can’t touch the word trillion. Nobody’s ready for that. And others around him, Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod. David Axelrod said people have sticker shock. If you say trillion, we can’t do that. So we got a fiscal package that was much too small to handle. And then we ended up with a very, very crappy economy and a slow, sluggish recovery. Really incredible, right?
Stephanie Kelton [00:31:55] This time, Congress with very little delay bangs out a $2.2 trillion dollar fiscal package, the CARES Act. And you see, you know, the federal government stepped up with unemployment insurance, right? Federal government says it will top what the state is doing for you. We’ll give you an extra $600 a week and we’ll expand coverage. So it includes people who typically get left out. Uber drivers and the like. And we’ll send checks to almost every household in America. $1200. It’s coming in the mail and we’ll do payroll protection programs to help small businesses stay afloat, pay their utilities, keep their workers on payroll and the like. And we lost 22 million jobs in the first two months of the pandemic. But then we went on to have the shortest recession in history, and Congress came back and did a $900 billion package in December of last year.
Michael Moore [00:32:54] And then they came back this March and had $1.9 trillion. More and more checks went out in December. More checks went out in March of this year. You had extensions in the unemployment compensation and rent moratorium. I mean, this was just incredible. Five trillion or so, right? And the proof is in the pudding. I mean, there’s a reason that boats are floating in the ocean stocked with stuff. Because people have money to spend. We’ve lifted almost half of all the kids in this country out of poverty. It’s the first time that we had a sharp downturn, a recession where poverty rates fell.
Michael Moore [00:33:32] That’s right. And yet the people who are pushing this so-called labor shortage, the ghost of Larry Summers (by the way, it’s not a ghost, he’s still alive and has written op-eds) and he and others of that ilk, are pushing the so-called labor shortage. They’re pushing this line because they want and they expect a large class of desperate and feckless workers. They need that to make the kind of profits they’ve been making for the last decade or so. That’s what this is really all about. And I take from what you’re saying here, Stephanie. I mean, they want the workers to be weak enough to have to work for crumbs, because crumbs is all they want to give, because if they give more than crumbs, then they’re not going to be the gazillionaires that they become. And people have become so rich during this pandemic.
Michael Moore [00:34:27] Why would they have any problem paying people a living wage or beyond when they have done so well during this time? I live in northern Michigan, I mean, the real estate, it’s not just in the big cities. This is just a little town up in northern Michigan. It’s amazing how I watched people swoop into town, rich people, and buy up everything they could. And then turn around and start selling it for twice or three times or four times as much as it was just months earlier. I know people have seen this in their towns. It’s all over the country and it seems like they are the backbone of this. They pay people as little as possible and they’re not going to get away with it because people aren’t showing up to work for as little as possible.
Michael Moore [00:35:37] Michigan is now the number one state this week in terms of COVID infections, and the hospital has hit code red for the first time in its 80 year existence. And people do not want to work, and I have told people who are working in the theaters, Hey, you know, I don’t want anybody working when you don’t feel right. You know, we’re all vaccinated. We’re not letting anybody in without being fully vaccinated. We are going to take their temperature at the door. So if somehow, you know, there’s a breakthrough here or whatever because they haven’t been wearing their mask, you have to wear your mask still. They won’t get into the theater. And once in there, there’s nobody sitting three or four seats to the right of you, or three or four seats to the left of you. Nobody in the whole row in front of you and nobody in the whole row in back of you. That’s how I’ve set it up. So I mean, you know, because you know, the coronavirus is my enemy, I am going to win. And we’re not going to let it hurt people, harm people, kill people. That’s my attitude.
Stephanie Kelton [00:36:41] I wish it had been the global response because, you know, when factories are shutting down, because there’s a COVID outbreak in a poor country that we use to manufacture Nike tennis shoes or whatever, the global response has been absolutely abysmal. You got, what, three percent of the population of Africa that’s vaccinated. I mean, if we were serious about trying to return to normal, that’s what needed to be done. All hands on deck, global coordinated effort to stamp out this, the spread of this virus, and we just didn’t get it.
Michael Moore [00:37:17] I have friends who work in Africa. I have a friend who is a doctor there. And he was saying that, you know, what’s so sad about Africa is Africans don’t play this goofy game of, Oh, this vaccine has chips from Bill Gates that they’re putting in my mind. Africans are so desperate and so wanting of vaccines, medicine, and any help. And that if we were truly committed because we will not get rid of this without a worldwide effort, and if we look at Africa like, Oh, well, what does that have to do with me in Michigan? Well, our hospitals were hit with a virus from China. I mean, we live on a planet that’s not really that big. And we are all affecting each other with this.
Michael Moore [00:38:12] But just getting back to the thing about the labor shortage. I want to move on with it. I don’t know how you feel about this, and I don’t know if you have to be agnostic about it or whatever, but I really salute the people that have held out. I know it’s not been easy, but inch by inch the wages go up. More people last month than in the previous months. You know, boy, if we just all stick together on this.
Stephanie Kelton [00:38:55] Wait, so are you saying so, we got 531,000 jobs last month and we had good upward revisions… but you’re saying hold out in terms of the people who are still refusing to go back to work?
Michael Moore [00:39:07] Yes. Easy for me to say. I’m just saying that I will try to set my example by the people I hire. And I just think that’s the right thing to do. I can do the math. You know, we’re going to make money. You can see a movie in my theater for as little as $7, and the popcorn is $2 and the pop, as we say in Michigan, is $2. I mean, I’ve kept my prices low, and yet I can tell you right now at the end of next year, we’re going to be OK. So I don’t know why other people aren’t doing this. And maybe, yes, maybe we won’t make as much as we did five years ago or three years ago, but don’t we all want to live? I do and my community does. They live good lives and raise happy children. Am I missing the boat?
Stephanie Kelton [00:40:19] I don’t think you are. I think it’s a wonderful thing to imagine. I mean, I can’t imagine not wanting to see your neighbors and the other people in your community to do well. And you know, obviously, we know why not everybody feels that way. It’s, you know, your gain is perceived to come at my expense. And you can pit workers against one another. Clearly, employers think bottom line first. And if there’s a potential to, you know, if they’ve got to pay a little bit of a higher wage and they’ve got a choice to either pass that on to the end consumer by raising prices or allow it to come a little bit out of their profits, we know most of the time what that choice looks like – push prices up to maintain profit margins. So, you know, it’s greed, Michael. We know this.
Michael Moore [00:41:17] And I want to say to those who call it capitalism, but honestly, in just plain language, it’s greed. If you were just to pay people a little bit more, instead of owning five homes, you own three homes. Can you get by? I mean, so that we can all get out of this dark era that we’re in? Can the wealthy join in on this? You don’t have to vote for Bernie. You don’t have to follow me or anything like that. But how about just for your greater good? If you want to play the long game, aren’t you going to be better off, if people are better off?
Stephanie Kelton [00:41:58] One of the other things the government in Japan has done over many years is they call it jawboning. Do you know this?
Michael Moore [00:42:06] Oh yeah, yeah.
Stephanie Kelton [00:42:07] Yeah. They just basically shame companies ahead of time, so that they don’t raise their prices and gouge consumers and so forth. So the government just gives a little public statement of some kind saying, Oh, you don’t really want to do that, do you? You know, and then it just keeps the lid on, you know, just how greedy corporations are going to get. Right?
Michael Moore [00:42:29] Let me go back to inflation for a second. So here’s a kind of a contrarian question. Is inflation all that bad? Now, my friend John Schwarz, who works over at The Intercept, had this great piece in their online publication, The Intercept, about inflation not being so bad for the working class. That it’s more detrimental to the rich, which is why they are always talking about inflation. Not good for them. But for the working people, I mean, yeah, nobody wants to pay another, you know, 50 cents for a half gallon of milk or whatever. But it was just interesting reading this. I don’t know if you saw it or not. But what’s your take on this sort of panic and hyperbole about this inflation we’re going through now and how it’s going to kill us and it’s going to kill Biden’s chances of reelection and the Democrats are going to lose the House and the Senate next year. Well, I mean, I’m not saying that it doesn’t exist. And obviously, it does hurt people. But I’m just curious. I read that and I thought, Well, that is a different way of looking at this.
Stephanie Kelton [00:43:39] Yeah, I mean, it’s a little bit nuanced. And so I would have to know more. Like lower income people spend a higher percentage of their income on gasoline or rent or health care, and wealthier people pay a higher percentage on housing, for example. So when we talk about inflation, you know, there’s a consumer price index and there are other price indexes and different ways to measure inflation. So you can have headline inflation zooming higher because just one component in the consumer basket is getting much more expensive. So say health care. If you had rising health care premiums and skyrocketing prescription drug costs and everything else was staying the same, prices weren’t rising, but just health care was getting more expensive. That would produce headline inflation. And so then you have to say, well, Who? Who is more hurt by rising health care costs?
Stephanie Kelton [00:44:40] Usually when people talk about inflation in sort of class terms, I think they think of the investor class. So you might think of bondholders who are getting, you know, interest. Or stock market investors. Maybe if dividends are coming in at a stable pace or interest on your bonds and inflation is eating up your real gains, then you don’t like it, you know, because you’re on a fixed income as a bondholder. But it’s just tricky. It depends on what exactly is getting more expensive, because different income groups feel those things differently.
Michael Moore [00:45:21] So some prices are higher. Is there something the president or Congress can do, maybe tomorrow, next week? A stroke of the pen that could provide some relief for…
Stephanie Kelton [00:45:37] Well, the answer is yes, and the question really is relief when? In the short term, that’s what we’d like, right? We’re all feeling the effects of paying a little bit more for that gallon of milk, paying quite a bit more to fill the tank, if you’re driving a car that requires gasoline. That’s harder. But there are things that you could do to reduce the costs that we pay for other things. So if we were paying a little more for milk, paying a little bit more for gasoline, well, he is sending, you know, $300 a month to families with kids under six and $250 a month to families with kids, you know, six and over up to seventeen, that’s in the form of the child tax credit.
Michael Moore [00:46:24] And that’s recurring, right?
Stephanie Kelton [00:46:26] Yeah, that’s per child. So that does help take the sting out of some of that. But of course, in this Build Back Better act that he’s trying to get through right now, there are additional things that will reduce costs for the average person. If you spend a lot of money on child care, well, universal pre-K and doing things to help people find affordable child care options, negotiating prescription drug costs for people who are paying out the nose for medicines. If we could bring some of those costs down, then yes, your milk costs more, but your prescription drugs cost significantly less. Right? So what can you do in terms of housing? He wants to build something like a million units of affordable housing. Some of these things take time. You know, there’s money going into portable bridges and rail…
Michael Moore [00:47:16] Yes, but on those things that could happen and are happening now. I mean, I just want to repeat what you just said about the child tax credit that has families. If you have two kids, you’re already getting at least around $600 or more a month. Are you spending $600 more a month on gas right now or on milk and eggs? I mean, seriously, if you start to add up and then look at that extra $600 that you’ve got per month because of what Joe Biden has done, I just think like, OK, look, yes, I don’t want the gas to go up, but this is global first of all, the global price of gas is a global issue, and it’s nothing to do with Trump losing or Biden winning.
Michael Moore [00:48:07] This doesn’t get reported enough. And so the second thing you mentioned is child care. And I mean, to everybody who’s listening right now, who has to pay child care, what are you paying a month or even a week? I mean, this is madness. And the fact that he’s proposing to set this up, so that no more than seven percent of your income, the government’s going to handle this. And the rich are going to pay for it. So that $250 for child care, did you just spend $250 extra on gas? Look, I’m not putting it down. It’s serious. You know, I went through the first gas crisis there in the 70s and what did we do? We started to carpool. Gas was like 20 cents a gallon, by the way. And we were horrified when it went to 35 cents.
Michael Moore [00:49:15] But we started to carpool. People got bikes. Bike lanes were created in towns. I mean, you rolled with it, because you weren’t going to be defeated by it. To let the Republicans and others start to trash Biden, and let’s be clear, these are two people [talking] who are out on the road with Bernie Sanders and Stephanie, of course, had a very important role in helping him put together essentially his economic package, which his good friend Joe biden, has listened to. More to Bernie than to Joe Manchin already. Can we get a victory for that? That, you know, the goodness that he’s trying to do to get this bill passed. You know, you and I in the primaries, we voted for Bernie. So when you’re hearing us say these things about Biden, there’s no way this is an official, whatever, right? Can I bring you into that and say that? Or are you working now for the Biden administration now?
Stephanie Kelton [00:50:32] No, no. I did serve. I mean, I served as one of eight members of the Sanders – Bide unity force for the economy. So yes…
Michael Moore [00:50:42] So after Bernie didn’t make it through the primaries, you were on the Biden -Bernie economic panel. They put together these proposals that tens, hundreds of thousands who are listening to this right now want this passed. We’re not satisfied with this. Roads and bridges. Yes. Good thing. Thank you. Internet, especially up where I live, we all thank you. But man, it’s looking more and more like they’re not going to do it in the year 2021. This is going to get pushed to 2022, and then more Democrats will be frightened to do the thing that they know is right. But they’re listening to all the wrong people. What do we do about this? So we get this human infrastructure bill passed to help parents with children, parents with elderly people, all the things that we should have and we don’t have.
Stephanie Kelton [00:51:38] Well, the pressure is definitely on and it’s really up to people. And I don’t know because I’m not privy to the conversations that take place between the White House and the two key senators that stand in the way of potentially passing this legislation. I mean, I think that you’ve got 48 Democrats in the U.S. Senate who are prepared to vote for the Build Back Better agenda. Remember that this thing started off with people like Senator Sanders saying it should be a $6 trillion dollar package and then a compromise was arrived at and you had Senator Schumer, you had Speaker Pelosi, you had the Democrats come out and stand shoulder to shoulder and say, You know, we have come to an agreement.
Stephanie Kelton [00:52:28] Our number is $3.5 trillion. The Democrats are united and we got what’s called a budget resolution, which is the formal document that affirms that number. It says, OK, we have given ourselves permission to move forward to write legislation to spend $3.5 trillion dollars. And then Senator Manchin, Senator Sinema, said, Hold on, I’m not prepared to go there. And Manchin said, I want to pause. And we all know what happened. And so they have been negotiating with themselves and that number is now down to what, some $1.7 trillion. And I suspect that it will continue to fall because the House moved with $1.75 and now we’re waiting on the Senate. So I think you’re quite right. If you’re paying attention and listening to the things that Joe Manchin is saying just in the last 24 hours, he is channeling that, you know, he’s using this current bout of inflation to say, I think maybe we’ve already done too much and I’m not sure we should go forward this year.
Stephanie Kelton [00:53:32] And that’s where the pressure point is. We’ve got to find some way to make him comfortable and I’m not sure that it’s really a genuine concern about inflation that is what needs to be overcome. I think it’s an excuse, and he’s not happy with the scope and the size of the package. And inflation is a convenient way to sort of raise a flag and say, I’m not comfortable, so we’re going to go either smaller or we’ll go later. And if we do, I think that we probably won’t go at all.
Michael Moore [00:54:14] I can’t handle that. You know, and I’ll tell you who else can’t handle all those people that came out to vote for Biden in this Democratic Congress last year in 2020. A lot of them are going to stay home. They’re going to go, Wow, I was promised they would make this happen. We gave them the majority of the House, the Senate and then the White House. And now we don’t get to see this. Now you and I are going to vote next year and the year after that because that’s where we are. But a lot of people, you know, we usually have over 100 million adults who do not vote. They’re just going to go, Same old story. No, I have no interest in whatever they’re doing. And we lose. We depress our vote.
Michael Moore [00:55:04] If it gets depressed next year and we lose, the House will lose the Senate. And Biden is an island in the White House. It’s so critical to get this passed now and Biden has to do it. I don’t know. I mean, I’m old enough to remember what Lyndon Johnson did when he had a Sinema and and a Manchin, and they got invited to the Oval Office. They shut the doors, they locked them in, and 20 minutes later, the senator from Mississippi was voting for civil rights.
Stephanie Kelton [00:55:30] Yeah. You know, remember when it was Georgia on the line and voters in Georgia were told, You deliver Georgia and we’ll deliver the check, right? Because there was this promise that Democrats made, You give us this vote and you put us in charge and that money is headed your way without these two seats. There is no next check for you. And sure enough, voters turned out. We got the two seats in Georgia and the checks went out. And now, because of a bill that was Democrat only, that $1.9 trillion package this March, that started sending, you know, that expanded child tax credit, that $300 or $250 a month that people are getting to help support their families. That is because Democrats were in charge. That never happens without Democrats in control, and it ends this year. So if people want to see those checks again next year, there’s only one way that happens. That’s with the passage of Build Back Better. It’s in this.
Michael Moore [00:56:33] And you know, we can’t control Manchin and we can’t control Sinema. Most of us don’t live in their states. So what do we do? I mean, seriously, what do we do? Because I’m telling you right now, people listening to this and millions of others feel like the hand is to their throat. And if we can’t figure out, politically, how to make this happen, how to get these votes? First of all, what good are we? Number two, there goes the House and the Senate next year. I will not let that happen, says me. I’m one person, but I’m telling you that’s where my head is at and I don’t think I’m alone.
Stephanie Kelton [00:57:16] Well, you are sure not. It’s just, you know, you turn on the news and you know what people are being bombarded with right now. It is story after story, after story of, you know, inflation. It’s really becoming entrenched in the narrative. And I think the mainstream media is playing this in a way, they’re spinning this inflation, and tying it to the next round of the spending package. And I think in people’s minds, you’re starting to see some kind of support begin to slip. And I think we’ve got to do whatever we can to help people understand that this current bout of inflation is in fact temporary, that this is not the new normal in the United States of America. We’re working through these supply chains. The energy prices are going to come down by early spring.
Stephanie Kelton [00:58:09] I think people are going to be seeing something very different at the pump and a lot of this is going to be in the rearview mirror. But they’re hyping this up. It’s creating some fear and anxiety in people. And we just need a very strong counter narrative to keep people focused on the opportunity we have to make these investments in our people. People are calling it the Kids, Care, and Climate Bill. This is an opportunity to make investments in our people, in our communities, and we shouldn’t let it slip through our fingers out of an irrational fear of inflation becoming entrenched in a part of our everyday life. It’s not going to happen.
Michael Moore [00:58:51] How are we able to, I guess, overcome our own fears?
Stephanie Kelton [00:58:55] Well, it would be nice if they would put someone on television other than Larry Summers to communicate with the American people on all of these shows. These producers have a choice to make. They get to decide which economist or expert to bring on to talk and help the public understand some of these things. But inevitably, it seems to me, and I watch a fair bit of this stuff, because I’m trying to keep a sense of where the whole narrative is going, it just seems to me that there’s a lot of hype out there for this inflation stuff.
Stephanie Kelton [00:59:25] They’re not bringing on many people who could speak in a more level headed way about where we are and why this is really pandemic induced and related to bottlenecks. And, you know, the sort of growing pains. Michael in a lot of ways, it’s a good problem to have. And it doesn’t sound, I know it’s not good if you’re struggling to, you know, pay to fill up the tank. But compared to the alternative, to an economy last October, we don’t want to be there. We’re much better off where we are today. And some of the pain is associated with higher prices at the pump and paying a bit more for food and so forth. It is going to abate. We are going to have a much better, stronger economy if we get this next package. We’re going to have a stronger social safety net to go with it.
Michael Moore [01:00:18] One last question: the CBO thing, this score, that Manchin and Sinema say they’re waiting on even some moderate Democrats in Congress, in the House. They want the score from the Congressional Budget Office to tell them, you know, is this paid for? Are we going to go into further debt? What is this? And is the CBO going to block this?
Stephanie Kelton [01:00:44] Well, I don’t know is the answer to the question. I think that the White House has been saying for a week or so that they are confident. They’re confident that the Congressional Budget Office, which is basically, you know, the scorekeeper who will take a look at the Build Back Better act. They are, in fact, looking at it, and they say they will have a score by the end of the day Friday. And so their job is to take a look at everything Congress is proposing to do and to project the impact of all of that on the federal budget. In other words, will it add to the deficit and by how much? And that’s the way they evaluate legislation. They don’t say, how much good will this do for our climate, for our kids, for our future? That’s not what they’re asked to do.
Stephanie Kelton [01:01:35] They’re just asked to tell Congress what number is going to fall out of the budget box at the end of the year for the next 10 years and add that up and give it a score. So from my perspective, this is about the least useful thing you could ask someone to do in terms of advising you on major legislation, right? Tell me how it impacts the budget. No, tell me how it impacts the broader economy. Tell me how it impacts the number of kids living in poverty. Tell me how it impacts our communities and the number of people who are able to get an education, who are able to get the health care they need and so forth and so on. That’s not that’s not the objective here. So, yeah, Congress has asked the CBO. They created the Congressional Budget Office. They gave them this job. So it’s a product of their own creation. And you know, they may well come back with a score that gives moderates, as you said, in the House or people like Sinema and Manchin and an opportunity to say it’s because of the score that I can’t bring myself to vote for this.
Michael Moore [01:02:48] Wow. So we’re on pins and needles until tomorrow, Friday night.
Stephanie Kelton [01:02:53] Yeah, but what would Republicans do? You know, that’s the difference. If the CBO comes out with a score and they did this, they did this with the Trump tax cuts. CBO scored that legislation, came out with a score, and the Republicans said, Oh, you’re wrong. It pays for itself. CBO said it would add a little over $1.4 trillion to deficits over 10 years, and then they revised it up to $1.9 trillion. And Republicans just laughed at them. They said, I don’t know what you’re smoking over there at the CBO because this thing pays for itself. You guys are doing funny math over there. Democrats tend not to play like that, right? They don’t play to win in the same way that Republicans usually do by lying.
Michael Moore [01:03:42] No matter what anybody thinks of them or how you wish they do more, better, whatever, they do have a hard time when it comes right down to the numbers of just saying, what are you talking about? That’s not a two. That’s a three. What are you talking about? What climate change?
Stephanie Kelton [01:03:58] They show deference and reverence and for norms and things in ways that Republicans don’t. But I think the bigger problem is, you know, it is quite reasonable to say, we’re going to ignore this score, because we’re not going to let a projection of what might happen over the next 10 years, where we all know that nobody knows what’s going to happen over the next 10 years. This is just your best guess. And our priority is and we are laser focused on meeting the needs of the American people, making these investments. And so thank you for the score. But we’re going to stay laser focused on delivering for the American people.
Michael Moore [01:04:37] Stephanie Kelton, thank you so much for being on Rumble with us here today. And I encourage everybody who’s listening to do their part to let the White House, to let your representatives know how you feel about these issues. Don’t forget Stephanie’s book, your latest book, “The Deficit Myth, Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy.” And I know what you’re saying to yourself, Mike, this is not what we’re going to do on Friday night, read about modern monetary theory. I’m telling you, my friends, if you do, you will have a much better Saturday. I’m not kidding.
Stephanie Kelton [01:05:14] Thank you so much, Stephanie and your Substack, by the way, I just want to point out again that it is called The Lens with Stephanie Kelton. And you can get it by just simply going and typing in StephanieKelton.Substack.com. And most of the posts are free, but you can subscribe and support Stephanie and her work. And if you are a producer for any cable news network, please, we’d like to see somebody other than Larry Summers on these shows. And I know Stephanie is very busy, but I’m sure she would like to talk to the American people about some of the stuff in a way that we’re not being talked to. Thank you very much, Stephanie. And keep up the very important work that you’re doing.
Stephanie Kelton [01:05:58] Thank you so much, Michael. Take care of yourself. All right.
Michael Moore [01:06:00] You too. Bye bye. Bye bye. Well, that was all very interesting. Please share this with people. This is important information. We need to not be connived into thinking that this inflation situation we’re in is something that it isn’t. And really appreciate everything Stephanie shared with us about that. And we need to get this other human infrastructure bill passed. We can’t put this off until after January. This has to happen right now, friends, and you must have your voices heard. So thank you for tuning in to Rumble today. Don’t forget to send me your asks for your Thanksgiving dinner conversation.
Michael Moore [01:06:40] Write me Mike@MichaelMoore.com or leave a voicemail on the link here on the description page and ask me what you want to ask me and I will on our podcast here, at the beginning of Thanksgiving week, I will share with you my advice as to how to handle the craziness at the Thanksgiving Day table. All right, my friends, thanks to our executive producer Basel Hamdan, our editor and sound engineer, Nick Kwas, our jack of all trades, Donald Borenstein, our researcher and overall good guy Harrison Malkin. And to all of you who’ve been with us here now in these almost two years of Rumble with Michael Moore. Greatly appreciate it. We have a lot of work to do. So let’s get busy. Take care, everyone.