White House: $1 trillion coin off table

A possible way around the debt ceiling fight is rejected by the administration

By David Daley
January 13, 2013 3:44AM (UTC)
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The trillion-dollar coin is officially off the table.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Saturday that the Obama administration would not consider minting the platinum coin as an end-around the debt ceiling fight with Republicans in Congress.

Carney, according to the Associated Press, said the only two ways forward are for Congress to pay the bills for spending it authorized, or to push the country into a default.

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“The President and the American people won’t tolerate Congressional Republicans holding the American economy hostage again simply so they can force disastrous cuts to Medicare and other programs the middle class depend on while protecting the wealthy,” Carney said in a statement. “Congress needs to do its job.”

A  loophole in a law designed to cover collectible coins provides the Treasury secretary with authority to mint platinum coins in any denomination.

Many liberals argued the administration could strike the coin, deposit it at the Federal Reserve, and continue operating the government as usual. On Salon today, Jonathan Bernstein suggested the president should move forward with the plan, even if House Republicans threatened impeachment, in order to avoid risking default.

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But in its statement, the Treasury said the concept was not sound. "Neither the Treasury Department nor the Federal Reserve believes that the law can or should be used to facilitate the production of platinum coins for the purpose of avoiding an increase in the debt limit," the statement read.

Paul Krugman was among those who endorsed the concept.

"There might be enough sane Republicans that the party will blink and stop making destructive threats," he wrote on Friday in the New York Times. "Unless this last possibility materializes, however, it’s the president’s duty to do whatever it takes, no matter how offbeat or silly it may sound, to defuse this hostage situation. Mint that coin!"


David Daley

David Daley is the author of "Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy" and a senior fellow at FairVote.

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Economy Paul Krugman Platinum Coin Trillion-dollar Coin