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Mark Alan Weisbrot is an American economist and columnist. He is co-director with Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) in Washington, D.C. Weisbrot is President of Just Foreign Policy, a non-governmental organization dedicated to reforming United States foreign policy.

Mark Weisbrot

Quotes

  • Consider a recent IMF loan. In March, Ecuador signed an agreement to borrow $4.2bn from the IMF over three years, provided that the government would adhere to a certain economic program spelled out in the arrangement... The program calls for an enormous tightening of the country’s national budget – about 6% of GDP over the next three years. (For comparison, imagine tightening the US federal budget by $1.4 trillion, through some combination of cutting spending and raising taxes). In Ecuador, this will include firing tens of thousands of public sector employees, raising taxes that fall disproportionately on poor people, and making cuts to public investment.
  • All this [in Ecuador] is taking place under a government – elected in 2017 on a platform of continuity – that seeks to reverse a prior decade of political reforms. These reforms were, by measures of economic and social indicators, successful. Poverty was reduced by 38% and extreme poverty by 47%; public investment – including hospitals, schools, roads, and electricity – more than doubled as a percent of the economy. But the prior government was a leftwing government that was more independent of the US (by, for example, closing down the US military base there). One can imagine what this looks like, as the Trump administration now gains enormous power in Ecuador... Lenín Moreno, has aligned himself with Trump’s foreign and economic policy... his government is persecuting his presidential predecessor, Rafael Correa, with false charges filed last year that even Interpol won’t honor with an international warrant.... Since Washington controls IMF decision-making for this hemisphere, the Trump administration and the fund are implicated in the political repression as well as the broader attempt to reconvert Ecuador into the kind of economy and politics that Trump and Pompeo would like to see, but most Ecuadorians clearly did not vote for.
  • Social security should really be a prominent issue in this presidential campaign. Despite the fact that about one-sixth of Americans get a check from social security – and millions more, including poor children, are helped immensely by it – the nation’s largest anti-poverty program remains vastly misunderstood by most of the country.
  • The American right has always hated social security, from its origin in the New Deal of the 1930s. Social security is based on an ethic of solidarity: we are all in this together, so it is in our collective and individual interest to pay into a social insurance fund when we are young, healthy and working, and draw upon it when we need it. This does not fit well with the rightwing narrative of society as a collection of atomized, self-interested individuals. In the 90s... many liberals began to accept, and even promote, the arithmetically false, rightwing talking points that social security was going broke. The verbal and accounting tricks were swallowed by much of the media and proved effective... Hardly anyone, outside of those of us who looked at the numbers, seemed to notice that this is just one side of the balance sheet. The other side shows that productivity and wages also grow, and hence it takes fewer workers per retiree to finance any given level of benefits. That’s one reason why, for example, the ratio of workers to retirees fell from 8.6 in 1955 to 3.3 in 1999 and nobody missed a social security check. And people accepted that payroll taxes increased, because their wages increased vastly more. The “granny-bashers”, as we affectionately called them, created a phony intergenerational war out of something that was very much a war waged by the rich against all generations
  • Economic sanctions, as the U.S. is applying against Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and other countries, cause immense harm... there is no doubt that Iran's capacity to respond to the novel coronavirus has been hampered by the Trump administration's economic sanctions, and the death toll is likely much higher than it would have been as a result... There can... be no question that the sanctions have affected Iran's ability to contain the outbreak leading in turn to more infections, and possibly to the virus' spread beyond Iran's borders... If the U.S. government is going to assist other countries, let alone provide some kind of leadership role during this global crisis, the first thing it should do is 'cause no harm, "Economic sanctions, as the U.S. is applying against Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and other countries, cause immense harm.
    • Quoted in Economists Demand Trump Immediately Lift Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela Sanctions That Are 'Feeding the Coronavirus Epidemic', Jake Johnson, Common Dreams, (19 March 2020)
  • Why do Trump & co. have crippling sanctions on Iran, making sure that many more people die from coronovirus than otherwise would? Its collective punishment, this piece from Human Rights Watch shows what monsters Trump and Pompeo and gang are...
    • Quoted in Economists Demand Trump Immediately Lift Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela Sanctions That Are 'Feeding the Coronavirus Epidemic', Jake Johnson, Common Dreams, (19 March 2020)
  • America has lost more than 12 million jobs in the last six months. An estimated 12 million people have lost their employer-sponsored health insurance during the worst pandemic in a century. Tens of millions report not having enough to eat. But one month ago, tens of millions of unemployed Americans lost... a $600 weekly federal unemployment insurance benefit that Congress failed to renew... How can this happen in a democracy? This is a question that everyone who works for a living... might want to consider on this Labor Day... If the facts of this political disaster were more widely known and understood, Republicans could lose not only the presidency but also the Senate in November. After all, millions of unemployed Republicans lost most of their income as a result of what their political party...did... Republican senators repeatedly expressed worries that the unemployment benefits created a "disincentive to work." But economists have found no evidence of this; on the contrary, millions of workers who were receiving these benefits returned to work in May through July, and there are more than 11 million more workers and there are more than 11 million more workers unemployed than there are job openings.
  • Bolivia has descended into a nightmare of political repression and racist state violence since the democratically elected government of Evo Morales was overthrown by the military on 10 November last year. That month was the second-deadliest in terms of civilian deaths caused by state forces since Bolivia became a democracy nearly 40 years ago... Morales' government was able to reduce poverty by 42% and extreme poverty by 60%... The November coup was led by a white and mestizo elite with a history of racism, seeking to revert state power to the people who had monopolised it before Morales’ election in 2005. The racist nature of the state violence... all of the victims of the two biggest massacres committed by state forces after the coup were indigenous.
  • What has received even less attention is the role of the Organization of American States (OAS) (with headquarters in Washington, D.C.) in the destruction of Bolivia’s democracy last November. The wheels of justice grind much too slowly in the aftermath of US-backed coups. And the Trump administration’s support has been overt: the White House promoted the “fraud” narrative, and its Orwellian statement following the coup praised it: “Morales’s departure preserves democracy and paves the way for the Bolivian people to have their voices heard.” According to the Los Angeles Times: “Carlos Trujillo, the US ambassador to the OAS, had steered the group’s election-monitoring team to report widespread fraud and pushed the Trump administration to support the ouster of Morales.”


  • If you had the opportunity to save a million people from preventable death, would you do it? … This is not merely a rhetorical question, but one that members of the Congress will have to answer in the present. … Right now, legislation has already passed the House of Representatives that would do just that. And it was included in the newly released COVID relief bill that is being negotiated between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. It would require the Treasury Department, which represents our government at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to support a multi-trillion dollar relief package from the Fund. These funds are not loans and therefore will not have to be repaid. They have no conditions attached to them. And they do not cost the U.S. government anything at all — not now, and not at any time in the future.
  • The IMF leadership, and almost all of the 189 member countries — including U.S. allies such as Germany and Canada — are ready to allocate the aid that Congress is considering. The reason it hasn’t already been approved at the IMF is that the U.S. Treasury has said no, and the U.S. — alone — has a veto at the IMF on this matter. .. [I]t’s not at all clear why the Treasury is blocking this desperately needed aid. … Nor is there any reason that it should be a partisan issue … Of course the Congress has a lot on its plate, and is having trouble passing further relief that millions of Americans need to pay their bills and for many, even have enough to eat. But all indications are that Congress will pass major spending bills before the end of the year, including funding to avoid a government shutdown. It would take almost no effort to include the House or Senate bill that would unblock Treasury’s hold on the IMF funding… ” (10/1).

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