If It’s Debt Ceiling Time It Must be Time to Bring On The Coin Again! - UPDATED!
The Rethugs are acting like badasses again and threatening to shut down the government, destroy the economy and wreak whatever havoc is necessary upon our hapless nation unless President Obama yields to their will and throws social security under the bus. Sounds like the plot of an old time melodrama but in fact it’s just life in Washington DC these days.
The Prez, for his part, has said “no dice”. He will have no negotiations over raising the debt ceiling (which after all is NOT new spending, it’s just paying the bill for spending already incurred. By, you know, Congress.) Whether you believe the president or not depends pretty much on whether or not you believe his presidency has been just a series of betrayals of true progressives.
Some people just don’t even want to find out and are once again bringing up the alternative option of minting a one trillion dollar platinum coin, depositing it with the federal reserve then continuing to write the checks to keep the government going and, happily, *not* default on the public debt.
But can he even do that? Because it sounds pretty crazy. Apparently it’s the result of a law which allows platinum coins to be minted in any denomination. As has been pointed out, the purpose of the law was to make, and sell, commemorative and/or collectible coins. But still, it says what it says.
Paul Krugman, for one, thinks that we not only can mint that coin but should mint that coin. And let’s face it, he’s no light weight on matters fiscal.
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.
While others, Kevin Drum, for example, think the idea is beyond nuts.
But put that aside for a moment. I want to ask something else: is this really the road liberals want to go down? Do we really want to be on record endorsing the idea that if a president doesn’t get his way, he should simply twist the law like a pretzel and essentially do what he wants by fiat? My recollection is that we didn’t think very highly of this kind of thing when we thought George Bush was doing it.
This whole thing is not just a ridiculous idea, it’s a bad idea too. Republicans seem willing to set the country on fire to please their increasingly fever-swampish base, and eventually they’ll pay a price for that at the polls. Sooner than that, they’ll pay a price with the business community. This is a problem that we should work out via politics and public opinion, not by pretending the law allows the president to do anything he wants.
Myself, I’m torn. On the one hand I’d love to see Republican heads assploding all over the rooftops if he did. On the other hand it could back-fire and result in more credit downgrades because, once again, we appear to not have a functional government.
Nancy Smash has a different solution. She’s pulling for the 14th Amendment option.
Nancy Pelosi: Well, you ask the Republicans, because we always passed the debt ceiling. When President Bush was president, as he was incurring these massive debts, and the Republicans weren’t saying ‘boo’ at the time. There should be, this is a conversation where there should be no doubt. In fact, if I were president, I’d use the 14th Amendment, which says that the debt of the United States will always be paid.
Bob Schieffer: You would just go ahead and do it, you wouldn’t wait for the Congress?
Nancy Pelosi: I would just go do it. But the Congress has incurred much of this debt. And so what are you saying, we incurred it but we’re not going to pay it? If you want to say, ‘We are not going to do it so much in the future,’ well that’s another thing. But you can’t say, ‘I’m not paying my past debts.’
But apparently the White House is not convinced that the executive branch has the authority to ignore Congress on this.
I think the solution is just for the administration to just hang tough and refuse to negotiate. There is a general agreement by Dems that it was a mistake to have done so before. So maybe Bamz just needs to TRIPLE DOG DARE the Thugs to collapse the economy and stare them down.
What are your thoughts?
A co-author of the original platinum coin legislation weighs in at Daily Kos. He seems to think it’s a GO! (h/t to donnah in comments)