Hey, let's avoid the debt-ceiling standoff by minting a trillion-dollar platinum coin instead

Words cannot express my excitement that this banana-republic idea is now being taken seriously enough to attract vocal support from a sitting Democratic congressman. If you’re looking for a way to convince the public that the left has no interest whatsoever in reducing spending before we face a fiscal meltdown, you can’t do better than having Obama and Geithner respond to the GOP’s demand for cuts by producing a de facto handful of magic beans.

In fact, that’s my condition for supporting this proposal. I’ll back it to the hilt, but only if the masterminds behind it figure out a constitutional way to let Treasury choose beans as the trillion-dollar currency instead of a coin. That’ll show those Republicans.

“There is specific statutory authority that says that the Federal Reserve can mint any non-gold or -silver coin in any denomination, so all you do is you tell the Federal Reserve to make a platinum coin for one trillion dollars, and then you deposit it in the Treasury account, and you pay your bills,” Nadler said in a telephone interview this afternoon.

I asked whether he was serious.

“I’m being absolutely serious,” he said. “It sounds silly but it’s absolutely legal. And it would normally not be proper to consider such a thing, except when you’re faced with blackmail to destroy the country’s economy, you have to consider things.”

By “things,” he means magic coins, not Medicare reform. Over at National Journal, a jittery Matthew Cooper wonders if the optics of all this might not be counterproductive for Democrats:

As bad as the House behavior has been, using a small legal provision meant to please numismatists to leverage the nation’s debts seems, um, risky. The only analogy I can think of is the Court-packing mess of the 1930s when President Roosevelt, faced with a cranky Supreme Court that overturned his social-welfare programs and those in the states, tried to enlarge the size of the Court to fill it with more sympathetic appointees. After an outcry, the president backed down. But FDR at least tried to make the change by proposing a statute and forcing a Senate debate. (The bill never cleared the chamber.)

Minting the coins would seem even more imperious. After all, the Supreme Court in the 1930s was knocking down state minimum-wage laws and other expressions of the popular will. FDR had some momentum behind him. But President Obama would look despotic if he embraced this tactic. (Imagine all the pictures of King Obama on a coin.)

I assume the reason they’re thinking about a coin worth “only” a trillion instead of $10 trillion is because, you see, a $10 trillion coin would be exorbitant and sound crazy.

Via Mediaite, here’s Rick Santelli proving his extremism by wondering why people who refuse to mindlessly extend the nation’s line of credit while we’re on an unsustainable fiscal track are the “lunatics” in this debate. Exit question: Am I giving American voters way, way too much credit in thinking they’d laugh at the trillion-dollar coin idea? At this point, given the results in November, what’s the best result poll-wise we could hope for? 55-45 against?

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David Strom 12:31 PM on December 08, 2022