Kevin Drum throws some cold water on the platinum coin movement. (There’s a possible loophole in the coinage law that allows the Treasury to strike platinum coins of any denomination. We create a trillion dollar one, put it in our bank account, and presto, no issue with the debt ceiling.):
No particular restrictions were placed on the design or issuance of platinum coins, but this paragraph was plainly intended to apply to bullion and commemorative issues for coin collectors. That’s all.
There is, apparently, a widespread belief that courts will uphold a literal, hypertechnical reading of legislative language regardless of its obvious intent, but I’m quite certain this isn’t true. Courts are expected to rule based on the most sensible interpretation of a law, not its most tortured possible construction. 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.
Read the whole thing because, in context, it’s pretty clear that he’s probably right. My response is, yes, and so what? The court case that would result would take months to resolve, and it’s probably a big political win for Obama. At a the most common-sense level, people can see how stupid the whole debt ceiling hostage taking is, and with Congress’ popularity hovering between anal warts and communism, Obama’s use of a technicality to get out of a hostage crisis would make him look like a problem solver.
The President has said plainly and repeatedly that he isn’t going to have a debt ceiling fight. He’s been far more willing to issue executive orders to change immigration policy, for example. I haven’t seem any other way for Obama to use executive power to avoid the debt ceiling, so why not give this a shot. At a minimum, perhaps he can use it to drive a concession where the platinum coin power is modified and the debt ceiling is abolished, as Josh Barro recommends.