Stony Brook's Stephanie Kelton's work on modern monetary theory has...

Stony Brook's Stephanie Kelton's work on modern monetary theory has made it into the Democratic presidential primary.  Credit: ISTOCK/Istock

If you haven’t heard about modern monetary theory yet, you probably will as the Democratic presidential primary heats up.

Generally, MMT rejects the idea of the federal government being like an ordinary household that can run out of money. There are inflationary constraints, but MMT argues that a government like the United States is able to spend more.

This idea helps power the Green New Deal and other big but expensive Democratic priorities. And one of the leading proponents of it is Setauket resident Stephanie Kelton.

Kelton, an academic who was chief economist to the Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee and an economic adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign, became a professor at Stony Brook University in 2017.

Kelton has advised politicians and made the case for MMT for years. A talk at Harvard University about paying for the Green New Deal is upcoming. Earlier this year, she says she talked policy with staff of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been pondering a presidential run.

Her path to Long Island started with her husband, Paul Kelton, who she says was initially recruited to be an endowed chair in American history at Stony Brook. In an article on Stony Brook’s website, Michael A. Bernstein, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, called the Keltons’ arrival “one of those serendipitous moments when we could undertake a dual recruitment that worked dramatically for the institution as a whole.”

With left-leaning Democrats eager to embrace her ideas and some Republicans becoming less outspoken about the dangers of high federal debt, Kelton is in high demand. Asked whether she’d take a job in D.C. in a new administration, Kelton said it would have to be the right one, given the difficulty of leaving community and family (her kids are age 13 and 11).

For now, she says she’s happy teaching courses in economics and political science. “I get to do two things that I love.”

Newsday LogoYour Island. Your Community. Your News.Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months