No matter how goofy the reality of Washington gets, they are somehow always able to come up with something new that makes everything that came before seem pedestrian.

Should President Obama be willing to print a $1 trillion platinum coin if Republicans try to force America into default? Yes, absolutely. He will, after all, be faced with a choice between two alternatives: one that’s silly but benign, the other that’s equally silly but both vile and disastrous. The decision should be obvious.

For those new to this, here’s the story. First of all, we have the weird and destructive institution of the debt ceiling; this lets Congress approve tax and spending bills that imply a large budget deficit — tax and spending bills the president is legally required to implement — and then lets Congress refuse to grant the president authority to borrow, preventing him from carrying out his legal duties and provoking a possibly catastrophic default.

And Republicans are openly threatening to use that potential for catastrophe to blackmail the president into implementing policies they can’t pass through normal constitutional processes.

Enter the platinum coin. There’s a legal loophole allowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins in any denomination the secretary chooses. Yes, it was intended to allow commemorative collector’s items — but that’s not what the letter of the law says. And by minting a $1 trillion coin, then depositing it at the Fed, the Treasury could acquire enough cash to sidestep the debt ceiling — while doing no economic harm at all.

So why not?

Here’s more.

  1. Hmeyers says:

    I support the trillion dollar coin.

    They just need to have a watermark and a hologram on them so they guy at McDonalds doesn’t mistake it for a quarter.

    Without that extra layer of security, Obama could accidentally add trillion to the deficit using the wrong pocket change to pay for a burger.

  2. spsffan says:

    Social Security is NOT a Ponzi scheme for the simple reason that in an actual Ponzi scheme, someone gets rich!

    Ain’t nobody getting rich off Social Security. Not no way, not nohow!

    • bobbo, we think with words, and flower with ideas says:

      In a Ponzi scheme, those that get in early get rich while those that get in later get the shaft.

      Is Soc Sec a Ponzi Scheme?===No. Its a welfare program supported by the full faith and credit of the USA. In other words: Bankrupt.

      • Abe says:

        Social Security is an insurance program. The assets of the insured have been invested in US Treasuries. Defaulting on that obligation is not an option.

        • bobbo, we think with words, and flower with ideas says:

          Welfare is when you get a check from the Government for money you didn’t give the government in the first place===eg>>>Soc Sec.

          The average person will pay in X dollars and get 3x back. THATS WELFARE.

          Just be honest about it.

    • Dallas says:

      Insurance is a ponzi scheme almost by definition.

      • bobbo, we think with words, and flower with ideas says:

        Not true. Insurance is quantified risk spread over a base to cover the expected costs. Soc Sec is not an insurance plan. Debt Ceiling or minting of coins is not an insurance plan.

        Doesn’t stop things that aren’t insurance from being called/marketed as an Insurance Plan and it doesn’t stop said Plans from going Bankrupt as they underprice the premium in order to make short term sales, or even Fed Gov Flood Insurance Programs that are in fact Welfare plans for the Rich to easily replace their beach homes.

        A lot of Fraud in this world. It has something to do with money.

        • Dallas says:

          The mechanics are similar but you’re right, the end game is not sinister

          • pedro says:

            As always, you’re wrong DUllass. And that mechanics things you’re trying to hold on just makes you look 10x pathetic.


  3. Anonymous Coward says:

    I nominate that the Trillion Dollar Coin feature a Demonic Bozo the Clown face on one side and a bald eagle that’s been road killed on the other side to reflect the coin’s true purpose and value.

    • bobbo, we think with words, and flower with ideas says:

      Yeah except “the true purpose” of the coin is to AVOID the result you have described.

      You got it backwards somehow. Reread the OP. Or can’t you handle the truth?

  4. sargasso_c says:

    I for one, welcome our new platinum effigy.

    • bobbo, we think with words, and flower with ideas says:

      Ha, ha…. for once, “overlord” would have fit better. THAT plus effigies are meant to be burned, not smelted. Small point… but what the Hey?

  5. Carlos says:

    Phew.. at least if Barry can’t quite sink the US economy in the next 3 years, he might have more time to finish the job! Might need a sack full of these Trillion dollar coins though…

  6. Joe says:

    How do you print a coin?

  7. MikeN says:

    First, it may be legal to mint a platinum bullion coin with a $1 trillion face value, but it’s not legal to pass it off as actually worth $1 trillion if there isn’t $1 trillion of platinum in it. That’s because it’s a bullion coin and not a legal circulating coin. The face value of a bullion coin has no relationship with the metal content because the value is in the metal, whose price fluctuates daily.

    Second, for a coin to be worth its face value, it has to be made as a circulating coin.

    Here’s how a circulating coin is made. Congress needs agree on the metal content, dimensions, the designs on the heads and tails sides, weight, and other details. Then they have to pass legislation to create a $1 trillion circulating coin. The President needs to sign it. Then the Mint would have to design it get the design approved, procure whatever new materials they need, make the dies, test production, and then make one. Then a bank would have to order one because a business customer needed it to make change. The Fed would pay the Mint face value for the coin. After deducting the cost of the coin, the Mint would return the balance to the Treasury. All this needs to be done before we run out of money. Good luck with that.

    From the former head of the US Mint.

    • bobbo, we think with words, and flower with ideas says:

      Hey Mike==that all makes sense.

      Obama could still “do it” and let the Puke stew or bring a lawsuit. Then he could go 14th Amend.

      By that time, I think enough attention would be drawn to the Pukes for even their entrenched voting base to look up and notice what would happen under a government shut down===not good for anyone including the 99%, 47%, and even the 1%.


      Yea, verily

  8. deowll says:

    The Republicans won’t force the government into default. The worst they might do is not allow the government to borrow more money. The actually income stream is not going to be touched. In fact taxes have already been raised. Tax revenue will continue to come in which means the government should get about 51 out of 100 cents it is now spending. The other 49 it is now spending is borrowed. The interest on our loans should be about 2% of that revenue stream. The President can decide to pay the interest or not.

    I know this is going to sound shocking to many of you but I think the Fed. Gov. should be shrunk until it is operating on a balanced budget before the dollar collapses.

    For those of you who disagree all I can say is expect a really bumpy landing when people decide dollars aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. Paper money has lost about 90% of its value since I was a kid but we had enough time to adjust. You can expect this to be much faster. Under Carter we had 15% inflation and I wouldn’t be shocked it that was vastly exceeded.

  9. Glenn E. says:

    Platinum? Why not something a little more richer? Like Americium? It’s a great name, because it’s got Americ(a) in it. And it cost about $1,500 a gram. So a 1 ounce coin would cost about $43k to mint. Plus it’s a little bit radioactive. So you could always find it, if you dropped it behind the couch. Just turn off the lights, or get a Geiger counter. But you’ll probably want to handle it with lead gloves. It can’t be easily counterfeited. Because how many radioactive metals can one get a hold of, to do that? Yeah, I say screw Platinum. Use something that costs at least a significant fraction of a Trillion bucks to make.

    • deowll says:

      Yeah but that would go against the entire idea of what they are trying to do. It might be more accurate to mint it out of zinc to reflect it’s true value and the intent which is to shaft the fools holding dollars.

  10. MikeN says:

    Meanwhile, Republican governors are going in the other direction. Scott Walker is pushing for lowering the state income tax. Bobby Jindal wants to eliminate the income tax and corporate tax in Louisiana. Do you think this will make things better or worse in those states?