Via Dave Weigel, I’m torn. On the one hand, why would the GOP want to stop Obama from maybe conceivably possibly doing something as insane as attempting to solve a standoff over spending by minting a coin worth a trillion dollars? That would be one of the great PR coups for fiscal conservatism in American history.
On the other hand, what better way to push this banana-republic idea — now endorsed by Nobel-prize-winning Keynesian Paul Krugman! — further into the public spotlight than by having the House pass a bill about it?
Rock on, Greg Walden:
“Some people are in denial about the need to reduce spending and balance the budget. This scheme to mint trillion dollar platinum coins is absurd and dangerous, and would be laughable if the proponents weren’t so serious about it as a solution. I’m introducing a bill to stop it in its tracks,” Rep. Walden said.
“My wife and I have owned and operated a small business since 1986. When it came time to pay the bills, we couldn’t just mint a coin to create more money out of thin air. We sat down and figured out how to balance the books. That’s what Washington needs to do as well. My bill will take the coin scheme off the table by disallowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins as a way to pay down the debt. We must reduce spending and get our fiscal house in order,” Rep. Walden said.
Within the last week, numerous media reports (example here) have suggested that the U.S. Mint could create trillion dollar platinum coins, which would then be deposited into the Federal Reserve to be used to pay the federal government’s bills or avoid hitting the debt ceiling. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, touted the proposal last week (story here). New York Times columnist and Princeton professor Paul Krugman suggested the idea in an article as well (click here). Other leaders in Washington, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have urged the President to raise the debt limit unilaterally without permission from Congress.
Yes, yes, the bill would likely be DOA in the Senate. That’s fine. The point isn’t to get it passed, it’s to give it enough attention that Harry Reid and, maybe, The One himself are forced to field questions about it from the media. Watch the clip below of Josh Barro and Joe Weisenthal defending the strategy on Bloomberg TV; not until Sunday mainstays Dick Durbin and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz are forced to hem and haw over it on “Meet the Press” will our work here be complete. In the meantime, lefty Michael Tomasky seems … anxious:
This might be good economics, and it might even be the best available way out of this mess. But I don’t see this working politically at all.
Can you imagine a president giving a prime-time, Oval Office address and saying, what we’re gonna do, people, is mint a coin worth $1 trillion. That just doesn’t pass any laugh test I can conceive of. I’d bet Obama would drop 12 points in the polls within five days of making such an announcement.
I thought the best available way out of this mess would be to reach a bipartisan agreement on meaningful entitlement reform, but admittedly, the idea of a coin worth one-fifteenth of America’s GDP is a nifty Plan B. I just hope they make the coin really, really big. There’s no way to make it big enough to reflect its bullion value, but that’s okay. Imagine a coin the size of a small car, with a snarling T-Rex head on the face. Not even Rand Paul could object to that.