WATCH: Biden's Economic Adviser Tries and Fails To Explain How Money Works

May 3, 2024

A viral clip of an interview with President Joe Biden’s economic adviser Jared Bernstein shows the official struggling to explain why the U.S. government chooses to borrow money when it can just print more.

"The government definitely prints money, and it definitely lends that money … by selling bonds. Is that what they do? They sell bonds, yeah, they sell bonds. Right? Since they sell bonds, and people buy the bonds and lend them the money," Bernstein, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, said when asked why the federal government borrows currency it can print. 

"I guess I’m just, I can’t really, I don’t get it. I don’t know what they’re talking about," the economic adviser to Biden added. "Like, 'cause it’s like the government clearly prints money; it does it all the time. And it clearly borrows. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having [this] conversation. So I don’t think there’s anything confusing there."

Bernstein's comments came during an interview for the newly released documentary Finding the Money, which makes the case for "flipping our understanding of the national debt," arguing that the debt is "not actually a debt for us taxpayers at all" but "simply a historical record of the number of dollars created by the U.S. federal government."

While Bernstein has specialized in economics for decades, he holds no degrees in the field, according to his biography on a White House website. Bernstein has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the Manhattan School of Music, a master's degree in social work from the Hunter School of Social Work, and a master's degree in philosophy and Ph.D. in social welfare from Columbia University.

Bernstein has served since July 2023 as the head of the Council of Economic Advisers, an agency "charged with providing the President objective economic advice on the formulation of both domestic and international economic policy." 

Bernstein was also the chief economic adviser to then-vice president Biden in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2011.