Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Obama Should "Mint the Coin" to Avoid Debt Crisis


Related Posts:
A Coin As Big as 89 Whales
White House Plays Coy on Minting Coin

Update: Nine Faces of the Platinum Coin from Talking Points Memo

...A stalwart band of merrymakers are finding a lot of fun Monday in the concept of a giant platinum coin.
~ Denny Gulino, MNI Financial News

From Joe Weisenthal on Business Insider
So where does the Trillion Dollar Platinum Coin fit in?
In the section of the law which specifically relates to the Treasury's ability to create money (coins and bills) section K says this:
(k) The Secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.
In other words, when it comes to platinum coins, the Secretary (who is currently Tim Geithner) has discretion on the designs, specifications, quantities, and denominations of platinum coinage.
So let's say, Tim Geithner decided to stamp out a $1 trillion coin. What does that accomplish?
The idea is that after it was created, Geithner could walk it over to the Federal Reserve, and deposit it in the Treasury's bank account. Then the Treasury, rather than having to issue new debt (because remember, Congress hasn't raised the limit) can make sure its checks clear against this money.
Voila, crisis averted!

Funny Money
Imagine sitting around the kitchen table, trying to figure out how you're going to pay off that next-generation HDTV you just bought.
Then someone has an idea. Brush off one of the old checker pieces in the attic, assign it a value of, say, $2,000 -- and use that newly minted "coin" to pay the credit card.
~ Fox News

I don't think there's even a remote chance that any court in the country would uphold a Treasury reading of this law that used it as a pretense for minting a $1 trillion coin.
. . . This whole notion is the kind of thing that Herman Cain would come up with. It's time to stop treating it seriously.
~ Kevin Drum on Mother Jones

. . . There is a Twitter hashtag – #mintthecoin – and a wan, spindly White House petition created on January 3 that needs around 25,000 signatures and currently has just under 2,000, which makes it resemble the winsomely pathetic Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
. . . This is an elegant solution – if you are a cartoon villain given to sitting in a vast underground bunker and innovating plans for world domination while petting a white cat. It makes less sense for real mortals. In fact, it has all the aspects of a group of well-financed mad scientists plotting to create a giant slingshot to avert an asteroid hurtling towards the earth.
~ Heidi Moore on Guardian UK

There’s exactly zero chance that the House Republicans, faced with the Coin Threat, will suddenly turn logical and decide that they’re not going to play political games around the debt ceiling after all. Rather, the Coin Threat is a political game, played by the other side: it’s the executive branch bringing itself down to the House Republicans’ level.
If you believe that the country is best run by grown-ups, you can’t believe in #mintthecoin, because it simply isn’t a grown-up strategy.
~ Felix Salmon on Reuters

My bill will take the coin scheme off the table by disallowing Treasury to mint platinum coins as a way to pay down the debt.
~ Congressman Greg Walden, R-Oregon, on a bill in which he wants to make it illegal to mint coins to pay the national debt

"That's silly/zany/juvenile!" This is probably true, but it's not a dispositive objection. Republican intransigence over the debt ceiling is juvenile. There is no particular reason that the president should not use a juvenile strategy in response.
The key question to ask about the platinum coin is not "is it juvenile?" but "will it work?" Minting the coin will allow the federal government to continue to meet its spending obligations despite hitting the debt ceiling. It will allow President Barack Obama to pressure Congress to repeal the debt ceiling. That -- not whether it seems silly -- is the important thing.
~ Josh Barro on Bloomberg


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.
. . . Enter the platinum coin. There’s a legal loophole allowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins in any denomination the secretary chooses. Yes, it was intended to allow commemorative collector’s items — but that’s not what the letter of the law says. And by minting a $1 trillion coin, then depositing it at the Fed, the Treasury could acquire enough cash to sidestep the debt ceiling — while doing no economic harm at all.
So why not?
~ Paul Krugman

There are two possible trump cards for Obama. One is the “platinum coin” option, in which the government mints a trillion-dollar coin and uses it to pay its debts... There’s also the 14th Amendment option, which some legal observers believe empowers the President to ignore the debt ceiling.
. . . Obama appears cool to both ideas. But Scott Wagner, a former NYPD homicide detective with extensive experience negotiating hostage crises, says the President needs to at least hint at a willingness to pursue an alternative endgame. A hostage negotiator needs to persuade a hostage taker that he is totally isolated and that the negotiator is the only one who holds the key to his way out — that “deep down, he is not in control of the situation.”
Greg Sargent on Washington Post

Petition on WhiteHouse.Gov
Direct the United States Mint to make a single platinum trillion dollar coin!

With the creation and Treasury deposit of a new platinum coin with a value of $1 trillion US Dollars, we would avert the absurd-yet-imminent debt ceiling faceoff in Congress in two quick and simple steps! While this may seem like an unnecessarily extreme measure, it is no more absurd than playing political football with the US -- and global -- economy at stake.
Created: Jan 03, 2013
Issues: Economy
Learn about Petition Thresholds
Signatures needed by February 02, 2013 to reach goal of 25,000
Total signatures on this petition


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