As we once again approach the legal limits, left-liberal commentators, most notably Paul Krugman, are now getting behind the idea that the President ought to exploit his own loophole: a law passed allowing the government to mint platinum coins of any denomination. If the GOP won’t raise the debt ceiling, they say, the president should simply mint a $1 trillion coin, deposit it at the Fed, and continue paying the nation’s bills. Never mind that the law was never intended for this, and that these sort of hypertechnical legislative games might trigger the very political and financial crises they are supposed avert. Seemingly, the most important thing is for the president to defeat intransigent Republicans—even if that means that the president “for all Americans” who once spoke of winning the future and healing the planet will be reduced to presiding over the Franklin Mint.
The Great Platinum Coin Caper is everything that is wrong with Washington: a stupid partisan maneuver that erodes the institutions of our government for no gain other than an immediate political win. The only good thing that can be said about it is that the President seems to be too sensible to actually consider doing it. Nonetheless, the fact that intelligent people like Professor Krugman are even discussing this debacle, much less endorsing it, is a depressing reminder of just how nasty and short-sighted our nation’s capital has become.
When I was reporting on Wall Street, I used to be told with some regularity that government was needed to counteract the short-term thinking of the business sector, who never thought much beyond the next quarterly earnings report. This now seems as quaintly adorable as picture hats and daily milk deliveries. An ADHD day trader with a cocaine habit and six months to live has considerably more long-term planning skills than our current congress.