With a showdown over raising the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling looming, a growing number of liberals are urging President Obama to play hardball and simply borrow more money without asking for Congress' permission. One implausible but increasingly popular proposal: Obama should just tell the Treasury Department to use its authority to mint coins, stamp out one or two platinum pieces worth $1 trillion, then plunk them into the government's coffers to provide what's needed to continue paying the bills. Republicans, of course, are putting their collective foot down. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) is introducing a bill that would ban Obama from using the platinum coin option, calling the trick an "absurd and dangerous" way to balance the federal government's books.
Walden's bill won't become law, says Allahpundit at Hot Air. It might pass the Republican-controlled House, but then it would be "DOA in the Senate," where Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats run things. Still, "the point isn't to get it passed, it's to give it enough attention" to force Obama to explain why his allies are discussing such a nutty scheme with a straight face.
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? [Hot Air]
The GOP probably would have been better off ignoring the coin idea, says David Weigel at Slate. It's pretty obvious that Walden's bill is nothing but a "counter-stunt" — and one that's just as silly as the proposal to mint the coin, which is more "a piece of performance art" than a serious policy proposal.
Obviously, "the idea of minting a trillion dollar coin is completely absurd," says Jed Lewison at Daily Kos. "But it's a heck of a lot less absurd than allowing Republicans to tank the national and global economy over a budget fight." Especially since Obama is only trying to find a way to pay for spending Congress itself has already authorized, rather than using the threat of pushing the federal government into default and ruining the economy to score political points.
Personally, I don't think it'll ever come to this. If Republicans were actually serious about doing something this reckless, their financial backers would only need to convince about 20 of them to join with Democrats in raising the debt limit. But it's nice to know that even if Republicans do head down that path, there's nothing to fear, because as even Greg Walden concedes, nothing can stop President Obama from minting that coin. [Daily Kos]
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