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 EllenBrown.com. She can be heard biweekly on “It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown” on PRN.FM.

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