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. jpfitz says:

    There’s the change from the hope and change slogan.

  2. George says:

    No economic harm at all? What the hell?

    It seems that liberals have no sense at all. My wife listens to NPR, and here are a couple gems of economic wisdom I’ve heard their commentators come up with. (Paraphrased).

    Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme. Ponzi schemes are when individuals or corporations illegally take money from one investor and give it to another. Government requires everyone to participate by law, so it is not illegal, and therefore not a Ponzi scheme.

    There is no debt problem. The US has nearly unlimited credit for borrowing money. We can borrow “jillions”, so there really is no problem at all.

    The new mantra of the left is that government does not have to account for money like the rest of us. Unlimited debt is not a problem. Taking money from one person and giving it to another is not a problem. Anything government wants to do is not a problem so long as they pass a law and make it legal before they do it. Therefore we get this shit that King Obama needs to be given carte blanche to increase the national debt.

    • stormtrooper 651 says:

      Maybe things will improve in 3 years when Hilary gets voted in as Americas first brain damaged president.

    • The Monster's Lawyer says:

      I listen to NPR too and I did not hear those ideas presented by the radio personality or news reporter. That is not to say that they might have had some far right left wingnut espousing their views. I have heard both far right and left views on NPR. I consider NPR to be vastly more inclusive of view points than any commercial news outlet.
      Now that you have asserted that you heard these things on NPR, it can only be taken as fact if you back it up with dates/times, commentators or report topics. Some kind of evidence of the report would be useful. Outside of that then STFU asswipe.

    • Dallas says:

      I didn’t hear you bitch when Bush borrowed several trillion dollars to bankroll two wars and give tax deductions to the rich without corresponding cuts in spending.

      That’s the problem with you do called conservatives. Spending is only an issue when you leave the carnage behind you .

      • stormtrooper 651 says:

        Bearing in mind the afghan component was obama supported (iraq was dem supported too but we’ll give you a free pass on it) how do you get to trillions? Are you referring to tax cuts mainly? Even assuming your figures aren’t total bullshit, you do understand that all that goes directly into the US economy anyway? As does most of the war spending.
        FY2003 Supplemental: Operation Iraqi Freedom: Passed April 2003; Total $78.5 billion, $54.4 billion Iraq War
        FY2004 Supplemental: Iraq and Afghanistan Ongoing Operations/Reconstruction: Passed November 2003; Total $87.5 billion, $70.6 billion Iraq War
        FY2004 DoD Budget Amendment: $25 billion Emergency Reserve Fund (Iraq Freedom Fund): Passed July 2004, Total $25 billion, $21.5 billion (estimated) Iraq War
        FY2005 Emergency Supplemental: Operations in the War on Terror; Activities in Afghanistan; Tsunami Relief: Passed April 2005, Total $82 billion, $58 billion (estimated) Iraq War
        FY2006 Department of Defense appropriations: Total $50 billion, $40 billion (estimated) Iraq War.
        FY2006 Emergency Supplemental: Operations Global War on Terror; Activities in Iraq & Afghanistan: Passed February 2006, Total $72.4 billion, $60 billion (estimated) Iraq War
        FY2007 Department of Defense appropriations: $70 billion(estimated) for Iraq War-related costs[5][6]
        FY2007 Emergency Supplemental (proposed) $100 billion
        FY2008 Bush administration has proposed around $190 billion for the Iraq War and Afghanistan[7]
        FY2009 Obama administration has proposed around $130 billion in additional funding for the Iraq War and Afghanistan.[8]
        FY2011 Obama administration proposes around $159.3 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.[9]

  3. JCD's Love Child says:

    The “liberals” are just as stupid as the “conservatives,” based on the above comments.

    Both sides are lunatic, destructive pricks willing to break our country for the sake of their respective parties.

    • msbpodcast says:

      The problem with this insane “Winner Take All” political system is that its set up to waste all its time in-fighting rather than getting anything actually accomplished.

      We’d be better off without parties.

  4. dittmv says:

    Obama will not do the trillion dollar coin. The trillion dollar coin validates the powers of congress and the separation of powers principle of governance that is present in the US constitution. Obama (has continued) since day one a war against the courts and congress. This debt drama is nothing more than another act of a long multi-act play whose purpose is to propagandize the public into abolishing congress.

    Obama has made comments that it is absurd that he does not get the borrowing authority to fund legislation passed by congress. Well, who signed (or approved the use of auto pen to enact) the legislation into law?

    Obama approved the legislation. It is the height of stupidity to sign legislation knowing that there is little money and little authority to implement the legislation.

    It seems that Constitutional Law Professor Obama has intentionally ignored the constitutional check on congress that the president posses to play a cheap political game. Rather than Obama continuing to act like a petulant brat, all Obama had to do was veto the spending and return the legislation with a request for funding and authority.

  5. .... says:

    Congress trying to limit Executive power, our forefathers would be rolling it their graves.

  6. Supreme Ultrahuman (I see the comment system is still designed for retards.) says:

    Sure, unlimited borrowing. That can’t have any consequences.

  7. bobbo, we think with words, and flower with ideas says:

    Did anyone even read the OP?

    I vote for silly and Benign although I think applying the 14th Amendment is more straight forward and within the intent of its plain language.

    Tick Tock on the filibuster reform. Procedural fraud here and there dealing with that one.

    As Captain Obvious would say: “Obviously, when Congress Passes a spending Bill, the National Debt should be automatically increased by the same amount.” Arguments off center and on the tangent like this one are very destructive. Obama should not have put up with it the first go around.

    Sadly, I think Obama uses this dispute as cover to cut social programs. Weird he has so little passion about what he “knows” his constituents want, need, and deserve.

    Like 99% of individuals I have ever met who find themselves “up against it”/whatever problem they have: they did it to themselves and just don’t want to face up to it.

    So many lies, so little time.

    • MikeN says:

      Obama doesn’t care about old people who didn’t vote for him. So he is perfectly willing to cut Medicare and Social Security but has trouble getting the votes for his party to support him.

      • msbpodcast says:

        Obama doesn’t care about the elderly who did vote for him either.

        And Boehner has trouble getting the votes for his party to support him too. (Goodbye Plan B)

        Pot, meet kettle…

        If you’re having trouble with that particular concept, try this one: The quickest way to cure your headaches is to stop hitting yourself in the head.

        Agitate for the elimination of all political parties in the ‘States for the next hundred years.

        • ± says:

          Parties should be Constitutionally illegal. The single biggest f-up in the constitution.

    • Sea Lawyer says:

      The 14th Amendment is saying that the existing public debt cannot be repudiated. It says nothing about shifting the power to incur new debt to the President. Nor does the inability to pay the debt mean that the debt is invalid. The argument is a loser.

      The President is not obligated to borrow the money to pay for these programs if he can just print the money himself; which the power to do so has apparently already been delegated from the Congress to him with this coinage act.

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

        SL–you took the time to respond and got it wrong?===Ha, ha.

        the debt ceiling lifting debate is all about CURRENT debt and not at all about NEW debt. Debt is incurred when Congress authorizes the expenditure. Pretty straight forward.

        If you can’t understand the plain meaning of of a short paragraph, how is Moby Dick coming? Its more meaningful than a bunch of guys holding hands in a bucket of sperm.

        I just laughed recalling Mad Magazine: “They call me Fish Meal.”

        Life is sweet, if you can read.

  8. dadeo says:

    So why not?

    Why mint just one? Bang out a whole roll and get us thru the middle of the century..

  9. MikeN says:

    Krugman links to his own column, and in that other column he explains why having the Fed just print money is a bad thing. So once again Krugman is contradicting himself in favor of partisan hackery.

  10. Trex says:

    Yes, I’m sure a magic coin will fix everything. Don’t you freakin’ people believe in Harry Potter?

  11. WmDE says:

    The trillion dollar coin followed by the $40 loaf of bread.

  12. dusanmal says:

    Oh the spin-meisters: “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.”
    WHICH CONGRESS? – This device allows for correction of previously made, corrupt decisions to be corrected. Corrupt Congress sets spending we can’t afford. People vote them out and the new Congress is elected with specific duty to correct corruption. 90+% of change between Congress 110/111 and 112/113 happened on this line. Also, notice that current Congress does not want to “not pay” for anything now. In exchange for debt limit raise, they want to stop future corrupt spending. If not, NONESSENTIAL Government services will be shut. And may they be shut forever. Current President (and unfortunately many previous ones) simply doesn’t want to stop corrupt spending as that is how he got elected. So, he seeks loophole to spend what we do not have instead of solving the real problem.

  13. George says:

    I believe we are moving toward 2 currencies. One good one and one not so good. If you behave (China) we’ll pay our debts in the good currency. Social Security…You get paid in the worthless one!!!

    I could never figure out how this might come about but here’s one example. The Trillion $ coin would back these new debts.

  14. Dallas says:

    I support the Trillion dollar coin. I’m order to pay the bills you gotta have a credit balance. Making a shitload of quarters seems wasteful and expensive.

    The problem with a Trillion dollar coin is you don’t want to lose it in the car seat or at the beach.

  15. MikeN says:

    I hope Obama tries it. Actually I would love for him to try the 14th amendment strategy. Having other countries or people lend us money that we don’t have to pay back as it was never authorized by Congress is a great move.

    Obama still has the problem that Congress must approve all spending.

  16. Uncle Patso says:

    Dear George,

    Social Security is not, in fact, a Ponzi scheme. My cute little monthly checks come from the 15% that has been taken out of my paychecks for the last 45 or 50 years.

    As for taking money from one person and giving it to another is, in fact, the purpose of the invention of money. Every day merchants take money from their customers and give it to their suppliers, their employees and themselves but you don’t see credible political argument against such a system. As for the argument that it’s somehow more evil when governments do it, well you might as well just get used to it. It has been going on ever since humans have lived in groups larger than a single extended family. Counts, dukes, earls, barons, princes, kings and emperors have always had to have their cut. (I prefer my money go to an elected government anyway.) Taxes are an older social invention than the smelting of metal. They’re not going away.

    I swear, sometimes reading the comments on this blog is like reading the comments of farmers, bakers, mayors or lawyers on the merits of using stressed-silicon technology to increase charge carrier velocity in chip design. They may not be dummies, but it’s just not their area of expertise.

    • MikeN says:

      Your 15% that you paid in isn’t covering your paychecks. It was covering the paychecks of the people who were collecting Social Security when you were working. If what you said were true, then the trustee reports would not be showing a bankruptcy in a few decades.

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. 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?

  20. 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?

  21. 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…

  22. Joe says:

    How do you print a coin?

  23. 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

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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?


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