When minting a $1 trillion platinum coin starts to look like a plausible way to avoid yet another round of budget brinksmanship, congressional Republicans and Democrats alike really need to do some soul-searching.
When the recent “fiscal cliff” deal failed to include a provision to raise the nation’s debt limit, it all but guaranteed a future battle over the issue; if Republicans refuse to raise the limit, as they threatened to do last summer, the government almost surely won’t be able to pay for the spending that Congress has already approved — bringing the country to the point of financial havoc. Yet under a peculiar 1995 law enacted for coin collectors’ benefit, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner can order the creation of platinum coins of any denomination he chooses. To circumvent GOP balking on the debt ceiling, all he has to do is mint a coin worth, say, $1 trillion, deposit it in the US Treasury, and use the money to start paying bills. There’s now an online petition urging the Obama administration to do just that.