You can’t win, you can’t break even, and you can’t get out of the game

I realize that even the liberal Kevin Drum and other Very Serious people are virulently opposed to the trillion dollar coin, but from my perspective, here’s how it works: Republicans need to know that they can’t win the debt ceiling battle. That whatever childish stunt they pull, we can pull our own stunt that will trump theirs.

A lot of politics is psychological, and for the last however many years, Republicans have been much better at conveying the impression that they were going to win whatever battle anyway, so Democrats should just give up. Part of conveying that impression involves making your opponent think that there’s nothing you won’t stoop to in the interest of winning.

That’s why I like the trillion dollar coin: it’s ridiculous and bringing it up at all sends the right message, that Democrats will win this battle, no matter how silly a tactic they have to employ.






166 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    Really? That’s why I hate the trillion dollar coin idea. It tell Republicans, “Hey, if you don’t raise the debt ceiling, we have a trick up our sleeves to save the economy, so no worries.”

    ETA: Although I have to admit, a trillion dollar coin would be the most exciting thing to happen in politics since the inanimate carbon rod.

  2. 2
    redshirt says:

    I like the coin because I like the idea of putting it into a retro Asteroids machine and playing forever, man.

  3. 3
    Dave says:

    Sure, do it, but omg there has to be a better way to get republicans to eat shit.

  4. 4
    gene108 says:

    Krugman with an alternative to the trillion dollar coin:

    Don’t like the platinum coin option? Here’s a functionally equivalent alternative: have the Treasury sell pieces of paper labeled “moral obligation coupons”, which declare the intention of the government to redeem these coupons at face value in one year.

    It should be clearly stated on the coupons that the government has no, repeat no, legal obligation to pay anything at all; you see, they’re not debt, and therefore don’t count against the debt limit. But that shouldn’t keep them from having substantial market value. Consider, for example, the fact that the government has no legal responsibility for guaranteeing the debt of Fannie and Freddie; nonetheless, it is widely believed that there is an implicit guarantee (because there is!), and this is very much reflected in the price of that debt.

    So the government should have no trouble raising a lot of money by selling MOCs. It’s true that if they’re sold on the open market, they would probably sell at a substantial discount from face value, so this would in effect be high-interest-rate financing. But that’s better than either default or giving in to blackmail.

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/

    Either Congress gives the President a clean debt ceiling bill to sign or he gets creative.

    I’m tired of negotiating with these Republican ass clowns.

  5. 5
    cathyx says:

    I like the idea of a coin, put it in the American History Museum on the Washington Mall, and let people see it.

  6. 6
    HBinBoston says:

    Sorry, but this is elementary school playground reasoning.

  7. 7
    gussie says:

    Did you read the comments on Kevin’s post?

  8. 8
    El Caganer says:

    The TDC is a lot of fun, but to get rid of this debt-ceiling nonsense once and for all, we’ll need a successful legal challenge to the Republican pretense that they can dick around with government obligations. Since the administration has already indicated it’s not going the 14th Amendment route, it sounds to me more like they’re going to let the Republicans eat the whole mess.

  9. 9
    Zifnab25 says:

    @Baud:

    It tell Republicans, “Hey, if you don’t raise the debt ceiling, we have a trick up our sleeves to save the economy, so no worries.”

    The $1T is scary to the GOP because it makes them irrelevant. They’ve got a gun to the nation’s head, and it makes them look really weak and silly if you can just waltz right in and lead the hostage to safety.

    Republicans don’t want the nation to be spared grief. They want the nation to suffer, and suffer horribly, so everyone will feel sorry for voting Obama a second term. People happily carrying on with their lives in the face of GOP Doomsayers predicting fiscal apocalypse does not help their cause.

  10. 10
    Jon says:

    If you oppose the trillion dollar coin, then you oppose our system of government. A duly enacted law established by Congress and signed by the President gives the Secretary of the Treasury a discretionary power to do something. He can do it.

    If you don’t like that, then everything’s up for grabs.

  11. 11
    Turgidson says:

    If we mint a trillion dollar coin, Monty Burns will inevitably steal it and give it to Fidel Castro.

    Given that inescapable reality, I’d prefer we exhaust all other options before attempting it.

  12. 12
    👽 Martin says:

    I realize that even the liberal Kevin Drum and other Very Serious people are virulently opposed to the trillion dollar coin, but from my perspective, here’s how it works: Republicans need to know that they can’t win the debt ceiling battle. That whatever childish stunt they pull, we can pull our own stunt that will trump theirs.

    But our solution is stupid. Why not just ignore the debt limit? Tell them to go fuck themselves, we’re going to keep sending Social Security checks and ask SCOTUS to sort it out.

  13. 13
    Baud says:

    @Zifnab25:

    The $1T is scary to the GOP because it makes them irrelevant.

    I think it’s a godsend to them. They can go on about Obama’s usurpation of power, and not have to suffer any accountability because the Very Serious People, happy that Obama has saved the economy again, will join them in attacking Obama for the power grab.

  14. 14
    Cacti says:

    @Zifnab25:

    Republicans don’t want the nation to be spared grief. They want the nation to suffer, and suffer horribly, so everyone will feel sorry for voting Obama a second term.

    This, a trillion times.

    “You people” voted for the ni-CLANG for a second time, and you need to suffer for it!

  15. 15
    Jack says:

    So it’s just a “stunt” … it not seriously a credible proposal is Drum’s point. You can call him “very serious person” or “villagers” or whatever the cool people call such individuals these days, but he’s correct.

  16. 16
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Baud:

    a trillion dollar coin would be the most exciting thing to happen in politics since the inanimate carbon rod.

    Meh, I didn’t think Mitt Romney was that exciting.

  17. 17
  18. 18
    Baud says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: @Alison:

    Me too. Touche.

  19. 19
    Jade Jordan says:

    Stop saying Kevin Drum is liberal. At Calpundit Kevin Drum was liberal. Now he is the standard inside the beltway pretend liberal.

  20. 20
    MikeTheZ says:

    A thermodynamics joke? Well played, DougJ, well played.

  21. 21
    Peter says:

    The trillion dollar coin is a rather silly solution. So was cutting the Gordian Knot. If it’s enacted people will say ‘oh that’s a bit clever’ and go on with their lives.

  22. 22
    dollared says:

    Kevin Drum is a loser. He’s spent most of his life in Orange County, starting all of his sentences with “I know you Republicans are right…..” He doesn’t know how to stop losing.

    The debt limit is a stupid fucking gimmick. The coin is a stupid fucking gimmick. Between the two, the coin has a stronger basis in legislative language, and a perfectly logical base in the concept of fiat currency.

    Wait until ten days before the limit, then use the coin. We really don’t want to default on our bonds – and the Krugman idea would be a default.

    Oh, and put Dick Cheney on the front, and Reagan’s birthplace on the back, and the slogan “Deficits don’t Matter.” Rub their faces in it. Repeatedly.

  23. 23
    Raven says:

    Hagel:

    Scruggs was one of the leaders of the effort to build the wall Hagel was in the middle of the controversy. Scruggs describes what he did:

    He was told [by political influential opponents] that he should join the team opposing Lin’s design. If he did not join the opposition, he would be out of work. Friends at the White House would see to it that he would be fired. Most people would have caved. Hagel did not.

    There are a few examples of stunning courage in Washington. Most are unheralded, this was one. Hagel said, “I serve at the pleasure of the President. If he fires me for supporting a design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, so be it.”

    Hagel never got fired. The opponents left, probably dazed at the outcome. Hagel went on to serve President Reagan in other capacities throughout the Presidency, and eventually, Nancy Reagan joined the National Sponsoring Committee for The Wall. A compromise was reached with the opposition, and in March 1982 we hosted an emotional groundbreaking. Hagel was a speaker.

  24. 24
    Cacti says:

    @Peter:

    The trillion dollar coin is a rather silly solution. So was cutting the Gordian Knot. If it’s enacted people will say ‘oh that’s a bit clever’ and go on with their lives.

    And The Simpsons writers can give themselves a pat on the back for creating the idea.

  25. 25
    Robin G. says:

    I love the idea of a trillion dollar coin. Think of all the bank heist movies it will inspire!

  26. 26
    Paul in NC says:

    You can’t outcrazy the Republicans. If you up the ante, they’ll raise you. If you double down, they’ll triple down, if you quadruple down, they’ll quintuple down. A $1T platinum coin will be met by something even more outlandish (Articles of Impeachment in the House, anyone?) We shouldn’t respond to the ridiculous with the ridiculous. It won’t solve the problem, it will make it worse.

  27. 27
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Baud: @Alison: I was actually surprised I got to that joke first. How quickly we forget. :)

  28. 28
    gene108 says:

    @dollared:

    We really don’t want to default on our bonds

    I don’t know.

    I think an all out global depression caused by us defaulting and ruining one of the basis of the global economy could be educational for future generations.

    Actions have consequences and the trillion dollar coin is actually an attempt to allow the Republicans to be dicks and not pay the price for it.

    The actual price is defaulting on our debt payments and that’d tank the global economy in ways we cannot imagine.

  29. 29
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Raven: you got a link for that BQ? Sounds like an interesting read.

  30. 30
    Poopyman says:

    @Cacti: I’d rather like to think they stole the idea from Twain. (Not Shania.)

    (ETA: A lot of that story was used in “Trading Places” too, of course. Always steal from the best!)

  31. 31
  32. 32
    Maude says:

    @👽 Martin:
    That’s what Nancy Pelosi said in short form.
    I agree.

  33. 33
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    I think it’s a dumb idea. I think people will perceive it as smug and gimmicky and that it will backfire with most people, and I don’t see what it would actually do to help people.

    ETA: Martin’s got the right idea. Just push on through. Fuck the GOP.

  34. 34
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    when idiots like newt are saying it’s a bad politics to blow up the full faith and credit of the u.s., you realize just how far out these nutbars are. it can’t end well.

    emphasis on bad politics. let that sink in

  35. 35
    Maude says:

    @Raven:
    Scruggs as in Vietnam Wall?

  36. 36
  37. 37

    I think the White House should leak a mock-up of the coin with Obama’s head on it, just so we can hear the screeching…

  38. 38
    PopeRatzo says:

    Wait, you mean my hundred dollar bill doesn’t contain a hundred dollars’ worth of paper?

    We need to go back to the tulip bulb standard or whatever we based our money on before Kenyans took over our White House.

  39. 39
    Heliopause says:

    Democrats will win this battle

    That’d be nice but people keep forgetting a couple of things:

    Six weeks ago everybody thought the President “held all the cards” in the “Cliff” negotiations.

    The debt ceiling and sequester both come due at roughly the same time.

  40. 40
    PopeRatzo says:

    @Spaghetti Lee: Nobody who is not on the panel of Sunday morning talk shows will care one bit about “smug and gimmicky”.

    Like “uppity”, it’s strictly a construct of the Broderists.

  41. 41
    Ted & Hellen says:

    I like the Trillion Dollar Coin idea.

    If it’s legal and effective, why is it “silly?”

    A lot less silly than a great deal of shit that has gone down in D.C. over the last 30 years.

    Which is why Obama won’t do it. He’s an Establishmentarian, first and foremost.

  42. 42
    Roger Moore says:

    @gene108:

    I think an all out global depression caused by us defaulting and ruining one of the basis of the global economy could be educational for future generations.

    Actions have consequences and the trillion dollar coin is actually an attempt to allow the Republicans to be dicks and not pay the price for it.

    If the price of not fucking up our economy is letting the Republicans get away with being dicks*, let the Republicans get away with being dicks. Crashing the economy would cause massive human suffering, not just here but throughout the world. We need to do anything we can think of to keep the Republicans’ games from working, and if that requires a superficially silly idea like UNLIMITED PLATINUM CASH, so be it.

    *And I’m not sure that working around their attempts to destroy the economy is really “allow[ing] the Republicans to be dicks and not pay the price for it” anyway. I honestly think that their goal is to crater the economy so they can benefit politically, and they don’t much care if it’s the result of a default or an austerity driven recession. If that’s the case, then what would really count as letting them get away with it would be to let them benefit politically for damaging the economy. The best way to avoid that is to undermine their plan, not to let it go into effect and hope they don’t benefit.

  43. 43
    Fair Economist says:

    The trillion dollar coin makes platinum coinage sound ridiculous; but actually coinage is completely normal and a typical way for governments with inadequate taxes and limited buying authority to pay the bills. A million dollar coin would work just fine, and they wouldn’t even have to resort to the “deposit at the Fed” trick. It could just be sent out to large accounts.

  44. 44
    Raven says:

    Football thread pleeeze.

  45. 45
  46. 46
    eric says:

    Why not give the treasury a $15 trillion coin so that you are covered for the next 15 years and can use as needed?

  47. 47
    Joe Buck says:

    Here’s the problem: even if it’s legal, the purpose of minting the trillion dollar coin is so you can borrow money against it. To do that, you have to have an auction to sell bonds, T-bills and the like. And then you have to explain to the Chinese that Congress won’t let the government borrow any money, but good news, those new T-bills are backed by a trillion-dollar coin. Meanwhile, every tea party group in the land is screaming, bringing legal actions, and the House is drawing up articles of impeachment. And for some reason, the US can no longer borrow at 1%. We would then have to pay rates previously assigned to the Greeks.

    So even though it’s probably legal, it doesn’t work. The right solution is to leave the Republicans no way out but to pass a clean debt ceiling increase. Announce that any attempt to attach conditions will be vetoed, there is no way out, and all the checks stop flowing when the money runs out.

  48. 48
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    When I read this post for some reason Ratt’s “Heads I Win, Tails You Lose” came to mind. Then I realized that the lyrics for that song perfectly describe my opinion of the GOP today.

    You’re a fake, you’re a snake
    You’re a sleazy operator
    Always on the take

     
    You’re a liar, you’re a cheat
    You’re good at startin’ fires but
    You can’t take the heat

     
    You’re gonna get it now…
    You’re gonna get what’s comin’ to you
    You won’t forget this time…
    (The tables turnin’ round and now it’s)

     
    Heads I win, tails you lose
    I may not be a Sherlock
    But you ain’t got a clue
    Heads I win, tails you lose
    I may not be a doctor
    But you’re sick as a flu

     
    You’re a user, you’re a slime
    You better look somewhere else
    For someone else to climb

     
    You’re a loser, out of time
    You’d send your momma up the river
    To make a lousy dime

     
    You’re gonna get it now…
    You’re gonna get what’s comin’ to you
    You won’t forget it this time…
    (The tables turnin’ round and now it’s)

     
    Heads I win, tails you lose
    I may not be a Sherlock
    But you ain’t got a clue
    Heads I win, tails you lose
    I may not be a doctor
    But you’re sick as a flu

     
    Heads I win, tails you lose
    I may not be a surgeon
    But I’ll cut you right through
    Heads I win, tails you lose
    I may not be a preacher
    But it’s hell you’ll go to

    Someone make a video of Obama flippin’ a trillion dollar coin and use this as the background music! :)

  49. 49
    Mudge says:

    Kevin Drum pours water on all parades. Go read his post, he basically says this needs to be worked out by rational discussion. If you believe rational discussion is an option, sure, the silly tactic of the platinum coin is foolishness. I do not believe the Republicans are currently rational at all. They ooze hate of Obama and everything he does. They have no intent of governing this country. They will only abandon sacrificing the debt ceiling if they perceive it is a political disadvantage. The platimun coin makes it one.

    See Scott Lemieux at LGM for a rational discussion of the issue.

  50. 50
    Fair Economist says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall:

    I think the White House should leak a mock-up of the coin with Obama’s head on it, just so we can hear the screeching…

    No, it should be Reagan. The mint doesn’t put live people on coins. I’d also recommend a “deficits don’t matter” quote except that the law requires the design be respectful.

    It would be entertaining watching the wingnuts have to talk about the supposed evils of the “Reagan”.

  51. 51
    jl says:

    I think there are two kinds of people who think it is silly and ridiculous. GOPers who realize that it will make the irrelevant (as comenters above noted). Liberals who like to lose and whine about it.

    Tell you people what, I am a fairly silly and ridiculous person myself, so if Drum and his ilk don’t want it, I’ll take it.

    I’ll try to pawn it. Watch for the heart stopping episode an PawnStars! (My family in Central Valley is hooked on that show, so I had opportunity to see how it works. Can Rick sell it easy? Wow. The price negotiation will be amazing drama).

  52. 52
    Tripod says:

    YEAH BITCH! AMERO!

  53. 53
    Glyph_2112 says:

    I like how the Republicans cry that the coin would not be the true intention of the 14th amendment but obviously the founders felt that with the 2nd amendment, everyone should have a bushmaster. They are so good at knowing the intentions of people 200 years ago.

    Also, the congressional republicans know that there will be no consequence for their actions even if they cause a global financial melt down because their base is so out of touch with reality that there is nothing you can say to them to change their minds or prove that the congressional republicans are wrong.

  54. 54
    dollared says:

    @Spaghetti Lee: One more time: “push on through” means a global financial panic because we default on our bonds. Platinum coins we do not. We saved the world with a perfectly legal gimmick. It’s good for Wall Street, it’s good for Main Street.

    And you hate it because…..?

  55. 55
    jl says:

    @eric:

    Hell with it, go for $100 trillion. Make a hundred coins, in case some get ‘lost’. Heh heh.

    Edit: I like Tripod’s idea. Call it an Amero! That will be fun.

  56. 56
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Raven:

    …or music. Anything.

  57. 57
    dollared says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: No, pitching the coin against a wall on an asphalt playground with Hugo Chavez.

  58. 58
    eric says:

    @Tripod: bravo!

  59. 59
    Maude says:

    @Raven:
    I remember him talking about the wall before it was built. What a wonderful man.

  60. 60
    eric says:

    @jl: the Amero is brilliant! not just for the win but a trillion wins.

  61. 61
    Rosie Outlook says:

    I note that Republican politicians are already threatening a partial government shutdown. Go them one better. Shut it all down. No Social Security–sorry, Grandma, you’ll have to call Congressman Asshole, it’s the Congress causing the problem. No air traffic control–oh, you have to be someplace? Call Congressman Asshole. No payments to giant defense contractors–sorry, Mr. Lockheed Chairman, call Congressman Asshole. The Repukes need reminded, in no uncertain terms, of what the government actually does.

  62. 62
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @dollared:

    How is it good for main street? What does it do other than patch up an arbitrary portion of the deficit (by the way, doesn’t rushing to find any solution to paying off the deficit give the deficit hawks credence? Why not just keep paying for SS and the like?)

    Maybe I just don’t get the economics here. What matters to me is that millions of regular people stand to suffer financially if the debt limit isn’t raised. How does the TDC help that?

  63. 63
  64. 64
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @👽 Martin:

    But our solution is stupid. Why not just ignore the debt limit? Tell them to go fuck themselves, we’re going to keep sending Social Security checks and ask SCOTUS to sort it out.

    presumably a gov’t shutdown doesn’t include scotus

  65. 65
    PopeRatzo says:

    @Heliopause: Doesn’t matter, Democrats will still win this battle.

    I’ve got a good feeling about this one. Debt ceiling debates have never worked out for Republicans, and the sequester completely favors Dems because of the defense cuts.

    Just mint the coin and let the threat of sequester do the rest. The GOP wouldn’t be able to help destroying themselves.

    Look at the way their heads are flying off over Chuck freaking Hagel for chrissake. I’ve got new respect for Obama. He may not be all the progressive I wish he was, but he sure has the GOP’s number, which can only be a good thing for America.

  66. 66
    mclaren says:

    Spoken like a true pragmatist. The plain fact of the matter is that the courts have a long record of not interfering in oddball maneuvers like this. So no matter how ridiculous the trillion dollar coin seems, as a practical matter the Supremes are not likely to strike it down.

    Personally I’d prefer to have the president merely assert his constitutional obligation to honor outstanding debts and unilaterally raise the debt ceiling. No other first-world country has this kind of absurd debt-ceiling kabuki.

  67. 67
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @dollared:

    Also, what I meant was that Obama should assume the Repubs will crack when it comes time to actually raise the limit and do what they’re told, which I think is possible. It worked for the fiscal cliff thing: The GOP knew they’d be held responsible for a bunch of middle-class tax hikes if they didn’t budge, Obama knew it too and held them to it, bada bing bada boom, you got a deal that was maybe 80% favorable to the Dems and included the big win for Dems that started the fight-the Republicans actually voted to raise taxes on the rich. I don’t see why a similar scenario isn’t possible here. If Boehner and co. buckled under the pressure of not being left with the blame when the economy went bad, why wouldn’t they do it again, under much more pressure?

    I just think that seems like an easier and more logical solution than a TDC.

  68. 68
    Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn says:

    @Tripod: Best. Pinkman moment. Ever.

  69. 69
    dollared says:

    @Spaghetti Lee No, it doesn’t pay off the deficit. It establishes reserves that allow continued borrowing, so that we don’t default. It’s just a way to avoid default. Nothing else. It can just sit in a box somewhere.

    It’s good for main street because otherwise we’ll cut Social Security or food safety to pay for a debt limit raise.

    It’s good for Wall Street because the consequences of default are very unpredictable and could cause large banks to drop dead – you can’t hedge this bet, it’s too big.

  70. 70
    Redshift says:

    Here’s the thing I wonder about. I don’t necessarily expect anyone here to know the answer immediately, but if you’ve seen anything addressing this from people who may have know enough to know what they’re talking about, please point me at it.

    The real problem with the debt ceiling isn’t separation of powers or spending, it’s that there are two contradictory mandates from Congress. There’s the debt limit, which says that the executive can’t borrow more than a certain amount, and there are taxation and appropriations bills, which define how much revenue and spending there is.

    In most cases, the result of two contradictory federal directives is either that the courts decide between them (which they prefer not to do in a fight between the legislative and executive branches, even though this is really a fight between Congress and itself), or more often, it’s presumed that the most recent law/mandate supersedes the earlier one. So is there a case for the president simply declaring that since the appropriations contradict the debt ceiling law, he is going to presume that Congress intended it to supersede it unless they pass a law clarifying the situation (that is, either raising/eliminating the debt ceiling or changing tax law and/or appropriations)?

    Yeah, it would be audacious, but is there a constitutional case for it that makes more sense than the platinum coin or the 14th Amendment responses? Or am I completely wrong about it?

  71. 71
    Raven says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin): Well it is the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!

  72. 72
    dollared says:

    @Spaghetti Lee: I’d like them to crack, but you have to have a backup plan.

    The coin does that. That is all.

  73. 73
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Redshift: all good questions. i think a good person to ask would be a constitutional lawyer like obama who himself voted against raising the debt ceiling. what did he imagine would happen if the vote failed?

  74. 74
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @dollared: I also like the whole “I’ve got the coin in my pocket. Now what are you going to do about it, asshole?” aspect of the thing. If the House wants to pretend it has a say in what happens, it needs to pass a bill.

  75. 75

    I just saw Ted Cruz on the snooze hour. Isn’t he supposed to be GOP’s great Latino hope? He was making no sense at all and has crazy eyes like Bachmann. Where do they find these people?

  76. 76
    Baud says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    what did he imagine would happen if the vote failed?

    He, like everyone else, knew it wouldn’t.

  77. 77
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Order online, I would guess. That’s where I find weird things. Or consignment shops.

  78. 78
    Maude says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    He’s the great hope. He fits right in.

  79. 79
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @mclaren: True, but it’s arguable whether this is still a first-world country.

  80. 80

    @Omnes Omnibus: He does seem to be one of a kind, indeed.
    @Maude: I don’t think his schtick will work with anyone but the 27 percenters.

  81. 81
    Redshift says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    what did he imagine would happen if the vote failed?

    Don’t be stupid. Except for Boehner, House and Senate leaders always know if they have the votes before they bring something to the floor. And members get to speak against a bill to make a point, knowing full well it will pass.

    “Obama voted against increasing the debt ceiling” is a stupid argument when wingnuts make it; don’t emulate them.

  82. 82
    Heliopause says:

    @PopeRatzo:

    Doesn’t matter, Democrats will still win this battle.

    True, there is a contingent here that declares a Dem victory regardless of what happens.

    Just mint the coin

    Regardless of its legality or efficacy it is widely viewed in mainstream circles as a “trick” rather than a serious policy option. Obama’s not big on that sort of thing. See if you can get Tom Friedman or David Brooks to endorse it, that would increase the odds that Obama will consider it.

  83. 83
    magurakurin says:

    @👽 Martin:

    But our solution is stupid. Why not just ignore the debt limit? Tell them to go fuck themselves, we’re going to keep sending Social Security checks and ask SCOTUS to sort it out.

    This. And it looks like Reid and Pelosi agree

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have both implored Obama to ignore the debt limit, if Republicans refuse to increase it, by citing the 14th Amendment, which holds the validity of U.S. debt essentially inviolable.

    There is a pretty good diary up at the GOS about the coin. The main point being that it is pretty clear that the intent of the law is not to allow the president to print money and that common sense should tell us that using a law against its obvious intent is a bad idea. It’s a pretty convincing argument. The coin is a bad idea.

    Just tell the Republicans to fuck off.

  84. 84
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Redshift: you are missing the nuance here in your effort to reflexively defend obama. what did he imagine would happen if he helped the vote fail?

  85. 85
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    I just agreed with mcclaren. Clearly the apocalypse approaches.

  86. 86
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @magurakurin:

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have both implored Obama to ignore the debt limit, if Republicans refuse to increase it, by citing the 14th Amendment, which holds the validity of U.S. debt essentially inviolable.

    is that really the 14th?

    eta – yes. i guess it’s a twofer for batshit rightwing congresspeople

  87. 87
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q): Did you read Keith Richards’ book? At one point, he wrote about how he and the Expensive Winos kept showing up later and later for recording sessions until one day he realized he had arrived at work at 8:00 a.m. like the normals. He went back home.

  88. 88
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I loved that book, and that’s a great image. Thanks, man.

  89. 89
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @dollared:

    lol

  90. 90
    Emma says:

    Do we recognize Heliopause? Because he brings the latest on firebagger talking points.

  91. 91
    Roger Moore says:

    Is everyone else getting ads about how to buy gold and silver coins on this page? Google may be able to read, but it still can’t understand.

  92. 92
    dollared says:

    Finally, Barack Obama.

    Do you really think the guy is going tell the R’s “Pound sand, white boys?”

    It isn’t going to happen. Thus, the coin.

    And far better the coin than Obama trying one more time to gut our federal government and my mother’s retirement any worse because he wants to show how well he can make a deal.

  93. 93
    Emma says:

    @dollared: This is not snark. Would you explain how your mother’s retirement was gutted? Or the federal government? With real numbers and examples?

  94. 94
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @dollared:

    Do you really think the guy is going tell the R’s “Pound sand, white boys?” It isn’t going to happen. Thus, the coin.

    the coin the same thing. and that’s why it isn’t going to happen.

  95. 95
    Peter says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Then it gets brought up to another vote and the people who voted against it last time vote for it this time, because the votes against were always ever purely symbolic until the GOP chucklefucks started taking it seriously.

  96. 96
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    I think that the Republicans using the elephant as a symbol of their party is very fitting as they have evolved into the P.T. Barnum Party.

    They’ve become a circus of a freak show whose existence proves that there’s a sucker born every minute.

  97. 97
    Yutsano says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall: I shall find this both delicious and wicked. I wonder if we could start an Internet rumour that the coin is already forged with his likeness on it. Facebook folk can be quite dumb.

  98. 98
    dollared says:

    @Emma: My mother’s retirement would be gutted by Social Security cuts (on top of the 30% pension cut delivered by Scott Walker). As for gutting the feds, have you seen the chart of declining federal employment? Have you forgotten the talking point that nobody has cut the federal government as much as Obama? Do you think he was cutting fairy dust?

  99. 99
    MattR says:

    @Raven: The Division 1 National Championship was decided on Saturday. North Dakota State won.

  100. 100
    dollared says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Yeah….I know. But I’m thinking that the coin might be just formalistic enough to allow a bit of backbone. Otherwise, it’s back to putting us on the negotiating table….

  101. 101
    magurakurin says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    I like the Trillion Dollar Coin idea.

    doh! Proponents of the coin idea should feel like Chazz Palminteri at the race track in this scene from A Bronx Tale.

    You’ve been mushed.

    Also, too. The seeds of “Obama caved on the coin” have now well and truly been planted.

  102. 102
  103. 103
    Mnemosyne (iPhone) says:

    @Emma:

    For Dollared, a rumor that there was a proposal by Republicans to switch to chained CPI during the tax cuts negotiations that Obama did not immediately shoot down is proof — PROOF! — that Obama is doing everything possible to cut Social Security.

  104. 104
    Emma says:

    @dollared: You mean the social security cuts that haven’t happened yet?

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): I guess so.

  105. 105
    mainmati says:

    @Heliopause: Not true. We’ve already passed the debt ceiling so Prez can declare whatever he intends to do any time now. Best to keep the sequester and the debt ceiling entirely separate.

  106. 106
    The Tragically Flip says:

    The problem with the 14th Amendment argument is that it might only authorize the President to borrow to pay interest on existing debts. I don’t see how it authorizes him to keep the government running. After all, future wages of government employees are not “debts” until they’ve actually worked.

    Lots of the money appropriated by Congress is not debt.

  107. 107
    Emma says:

    @dollared: Yes, he’s not a spending guy. He’s also managed to tow the economy out of the depths in spite of the opposition of Republicans and some of his own party. He’s managed to extend health care to over 30 million people, raise taxes on the rich and close some of the deduction loopholes…

    I think you know all this.

  108. 108
    Maude says:

    @Emma:
    101
    Yeah, those cuts.

  109. 109
    ChrisNYC says:

    Coin is so silly. And destructive, if you like govt. “Oh, this ‘accounting trick’ solves everything? It’s ALL bullshit.” Totally a bad idea. And also, why meet GOP dumb with Dem dumb? Let them “shut it down” and LIVE WITH THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR LACK OF GOVERNANCE. The GOP house is alone, isolated. That’s what happened with the cliff. Don’t give them a dance partner in nonsense. Do not walk straight into a meritorious claim of “both sides do it.”

  110. 110
    catclub says:

    I still think trading the ability to mint $1Tr coins for permanent removal of the debt ceiling law is the goal.

    It takes it away as a future option for future GOP presidents.

    Therefore it limits future presidents.

    Therefore Obama will never push for such a solution.

  111. 111
    Roger Moore says:

    @Emma:
    But what has he done for me lately?

  112. 112
    The Tragically Flip says:

    Actually, thinking more about the 14th Amendment – I think it actually constrains the President more than it helps them.

    When the ceiling is maxed, tax revenue will continue to be collected, but won’t be enough for all the bills, interest and spending the pres is supposed to do. But, as the 14th says the US pays its debts, that would seem to obligate prioritizing debt-service and bills for services already rendered over “new” spending (such as say, keeping most government employees working).

    I don’t see how it obligates him to borrow more money at all, as long as incoming tax revenue is enough to meet the obligations of the 14th Amendment. Congress may have appropriated $1M to study intestinal problems in goats, but that’s not a “debt” so if the CDC hasn’t already started that work, I don’t see how money can be borrowed to fund it under the 14th.

  113. 113
    The Tragically Flip says:

    @ChrisNYC:

    Let them “shut it down” and LIVE WITH THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR LACK OF GOVERNANCE.

    Maybe if they were the only ones who would have to live with those consequences this might be morally acceptable. But as the consequences are something between “another 2008 meltdown” and “actual new Great Depression” I think I’d be grateful for a “dumb” coin if it stopped all that.

  114. 114
    Feebog says:

    Mint the fucking coin already. Do it right now and let the crazies know you have it in your pocket. That’s step one. Step two is to attach assigning statement to every appropriations bill declaring that the spending mandates supersede and nullify the debt limit. If the crazies want to sue and take it to SCOTUs, bring it on.

  115. 115
    liberal says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    Maybe I just don’t get the economics here. What matters to me is that millions of regular people stand to suffer financially if the debt limit isn’t raised. How does the TDC help that?

    AFAICT here’s how it works:

    Just to put some numbers out there, suppose the debt limit is $15T, and suppose the Federal Reserve holds $2T.

    Treasury mints the $1T coin, sends it over to the Fed Reserve and says, “We’d like to buy back $1T of our debt with this coin.” Fed R. takes the coin, holds on to it, and sends the Treasury back $1T of debt. Treasure wipes the $1T of debt off its books. Now the total debt is $14T, below the Congressionally-approved $15T, and we instantly have a $1T buffer.

  116. 116
    ChrisNYC says:

    @The Tragically Flip: Oh come on! They are not going to do it! They don’t DO consequences. They just don’t. They had enough votes to get Boehner out as speaker and none of the tough guy Tea Party maniacs would stand because they are cowards. They are interested in being bomb throwers, standing on the sidelines and bitching about commies and RINOs. They melted over goddamn Sandy relief! “uh uh uh we’ll schedule that vote right quick. 9 billion — there you go — hell with the debt.” You think they’re going to be left holding the bag for actual harsh consequences? That is exactly what they want you to think. It’s giving them a payoff to their hostage taking.

  117. 117
    Bill Murray says:

    @magurakurin:

    There is a pretty good diary up at the GOS about the coin. The main point being that it is pretty clear that the intent of the law is not to allow the president to print money and that common sense should tell us that using a law against its obvious intent is a bad idea. It’s a pretty convincing argument. The coin is a bad idea.

    and that makes exactly zero difference. The important thing is what the law says, not what the intent was. The intent can only matter if the text isn’t clear

  118. 118
  119. 119
    efgoldman says:

    @Paul in NC:

    We shouldn’t respond to the ridiculous with the ridiculous. It won’t solve the problem, it will make it worse.

    Well, then, what should we do? Pray, tell.

  120. 120
    pluege says:

    obama put himself in a box. He has repeatedly said he won’t succumb to republican blackmail on the dept ceiling. So his choices are to cave (most likely) or do something as stupid as the republicans like the trillion dollar coin. This is unlikely because obama is WAY too impressed with himself to do something creative in the face of republican idiocy.

    It is certain republicans are not coming off their stupid.

  121. 121
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bill Murray:

    The intent can only matter if the text isn’t clear

    And even then it is just good for guidance. it isn’t binding.

  122. 122
    Roger Moore says:

    @liberal:
    The problem comes if/when the economy gets better. At that point, the Fed will want to tighten the monetary supply, which it normally does by selling some of its bonds. If it’s already sold $1 trillion in bonds in exchange for a platinum coin, it will have that many less to use in its open market operations. Eventually, it may need to buy that $1 trillion in bonds back from the Treasury with its trillion dollar coin, which undoes the benefit unless Congress has come to its senses and raised the debt ceiling in the meantime.

  123. 123
    Yutsano says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    it isn’t binding

    Unless you’re Scalia and have a chance to stick it to that boy in the White House.

  124. 124
    Cowbelle says:

    Try to convince the Republicans that this coin already exists and is the platinum coin under discussion.

  125. 125
    Baud says:

    @Cowbelle:

    That’s a bad ass coin. I’d believe it’s worth a trillion.

  126. 126
    Yutsano says:

    @Cowbelle: The resulting freakout would be one for the ages. Who wants to get the ball rolling? I’d do it but I’m at work.

  127. 127
    redshirt says:

    We’re going to be hearing about this magic platinum coin in Wingnut circles for decades.

  128. 128
    The Tragically Flip says:

    @ChrisNYC:

    They balk once the consequences are clear, but the problem with a US default is by then it will likely to be too late to do an oopsie bill.

    And they passed $9B of the $60B needed for Sandy relief. They’re still screwing those people, just now they have a fig leaf to hide behind.

    Newt Gingrich shut down the government because he didn’t like his AF1 seat. They’re quite capable of doing this, both malignantly or even out of sheer incompetence. The group dynamics of the GOP caucus are inherently chaotic.

  129. 129
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @The Tragically Flip:

    The group dynamics of the GOP caucus are inherently chaotic.

    If, by that, you mean both stupid and vicious, I agree wholeheartedly.

  130. 130
    efgoldman says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Where do they find these people?

    Texas.
    ‘Nuff said.

  131. 131
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @efgoldman:

    I was going to say “Ask Cornerstone” but your response works too. ;p

  132. 132
    👽 Martin says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    presumably a gov’t shutdown doesn’t include scotus

    So why wait? Just declare at this stage (as we’re past the debt limit), that the budget passed by Congress calls for the following spending on the assumption of the following income. That implies a given level of borrowing, which he will direct Geithner to do, and he leaves it to the Supreme Court to reconcile Congress’s contradictory demands. In the meantime, the government goes on. Congress do whatever they want.

  133. 133
    slightly_peeved says:

    @The Tragically Flip:

    I think the argument is that there are two laws that, combined, cause the breach of the full faith and credit. The first is the congressional budget authorizing expenditure, and the second is the debt ceiling. If Obama identifies the combination of the two as leading to an unconstitutional result, it’s his choice as to which to invalidate.

    I’d argue that refusing to honor the debt ceiling is actually a less dramatic action than refusing to carry out a budget. Producing budgets is one of the key roles of Congress, whereas this debt limit is a relatively new and minor add-on. If congress wishes to limit debt, they can do that perfectly well within the budgetary process – by submitting a smaller budget for Obama to implement.

  134. 134
    WaterGirl says:

    I think President Obama already knows how he is going to handle the debt ceiling, and it isn’t that he’s hoping the republicans will do the right thing.

    He is a constitutional scholar, and I think he will resolve it in a way that is consistent with that. He’ll do his best to resolve the conflict between the debt ceiling limit and his obligation to pay the bills.

    I think it will be like when he recess-appointed Richard Cordray when the republicans were doing their bullshit “we’re really not on recess so you can’t appoint anyone” thing. There was an outcry for about 45 minutes and then the whole thing died down because it was already a done deal.

    I think President Obama’s resolution of the debt ceiling will go something like that.

    Edit: I was composing this comment while slightly_peeved posted his/hers. That’s exactly what I was trying to say, only I didn’t say it as well.

  135. 135
    ChrisNYC says:

    @The Tragically Flip: The vote on the remainder is scheduled for Jan 15.

    I just think you are giving them way more power and ooooga booga scariness than they deserve, which so plays into their hand. “OH noes, they are going to do x, which means we have to totally act reactively and do this crazy silly coin thing!” It’s playing on their turf. Leave their turf to them. They are in crazy nether world of defaulting. Do not join them there. The Pres has said he won’t negotiate on the debt ceiling. Leave it there. The Dems have their position. Sit with the anxiety and wait for the GOP House to fold. The Admin and/or Dems do not have to think up “tricks” to get around the GOP House’s refusal to govern. Not the job of the executive or the Senate. If they don’t want to govern, that’s their thing — for voter accountability, for separation of powers, for all sorts of good reasons. It’s a terrible play for Dems to enable this, this time and for every time hereafter.

  136. 136
    MaximusNYC says:

    I believe the platinum coin option is both entertaining and legally plausible. But while minting it may not be a crime, I think it would be a mistake. Obama should avoid it — not for legal reasons, but for political ones.

    It would instantly reinforce all the false GOP narratives about Obama being dictatorial and printing too much money. It would replace Obamacare as the new target of teabagger rage and paranoia. It would reactivate (and swell the ranks of) the Paulista legions, in all their crankery. It would likely trigger an impeachment attempt.

    And it’s not just wingnuts I’m concerned about here. Many regular people — including plenty of totebaggers — are vaguely troubled by the deficit, and yet don’t really understand macroeconomics or monetary policy. These folks would be extremely susceptible to scaremongering about the platinum coin. It would smell like “funny money” to much of middle America.

    Better for Obama to simply declare that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional. It contradicts other mandates issued by Congress, and leads to the possibility of questioning the creditworthiness of the US government, in contravention of the 14th Amendment. He just needs to explain that Congress sets taxing levels, Congress sets spending levels, and Congress has therefore implicitly authorized borrowing to make up the difference.

    TLDR: The coin would distract people’s attention from the real problem, which is the debt ceiling itself.

  137. 137
    Heliopause says:

    @mainmati:

    We’ve already passed the debt ceiling so Prez can declare whatever he intends to do any time now.

    Yep, he sure can. He can do it tomorrow. He could have done it six months ago. In fact, he already has. He’s said he won’t negotiate. So here we are.

  138. 138
    Cowbelle says:

    It would instantly reinforce all the false GOP narratives about Obama being dictatorial and printing too much money. It would replace Obamacare as the new target of teabagger rage and paranoia. It would reactivate (and swell the ranks of) the Paulista legions, in all their crankery. It would likely trigger an impeachment attempt.

    I agree with you in principle but in practice aren’t we likely to see an impeachment attempt anyway?

  139. 139
    Anoniminous says:

    @Joe Buck:

    No.

    The coins act give the US Mint the power to print legal tender at the value stamped on the face. If the coin says it’s worth 25 cents it’s worth 25 cents. If the coin says it’s worth $1 Trillion, that’s what is is worth. That’s the magic of seigniorage. Depositing the coin in the Federal Reserve instantly credits the US Federal government with 1 trillion buck-a-roonies.

  140. 140
    Xenos says:

    @Baud: Yes. They can run in circles demonizing gimmick and be pretty successful at it. The XIVth amendment approach has a much lower political risk.

    Perhaps the greatest potential reward is go ahead and ignore the debt limit and to let congress go to court, establish standing, and try to win on the arguments that they can both authorize and not authorize spending and jerk qround the country. It would be like the Supreme Court ACA decision all over again, unless it is not.

  141. 141
    Keith G says:

    Cool thing about this thread is that it shows those comfortable with rational thinking, and those who are not.

  142. 142
    AxelFoley says:

    Where can I get one of these coins that are worth a trillion dollars? I could pay my bills off with one and have some change left over.

  143. 143
    AxelFoley says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Will both of you shut the fuck up?

  144. 144
    Keith G says:

    @Cowbelle:

    I agree with you in principle but in practice aren’t we likely to see an impeachment attempt anyway?

    Nope.

    Even though a few loons may mention it (as some always do) leadership will not be on board.

  145. 145
    liberal says:

    @Roger Moore:

    The problem comes if/when the economy gets better.

    I predict we will be up against the zero bound for more than a couple years.

    At that point, the Fed will want to tighten the monetary supply, which it normally does by selling some of its bonds. If it’s already sold $1 trillion in bonds in exchange for a platinum coin, it will have that many less to use in its open market operations.

    Yes, it’s true, this is the way the coin trick would be inflationary. Not now, but in the future.

    …which undoes the benefit unless Congress has come to its senses and raised the debt ceiling in the meantime.

    But that’s the entire point—to buy time.

  146. 146
    liberal says:

    @slightly_peeved:

    Producing budgets is one of the key roles of Congress, whereas this debt limit is a relatively new and minor add-on.

    That’s actually false. The debt limit thing originated roughly the time of WWI. And before that, it was even more crazy by modern standards—Congress would have to approve every debt issue (IIRC).

  147. 147
    liberal says:

    @ChrisNYC:
    I don’t entirely agree—the Rethugs will scream “The [Democratic] Senate has to cut entitlements and send up a bill”—but that’s a pretty reasonable way of looking at it.

    But all would mean is that your preferred method is superior to the coin method. There’s many alternatives being posited here. IMHO, the coin method is far superior to the one I fear will happen, which is cuts to entitlements that are given a patina of bipartisanship.

  148. 148
    Radio One says:

    The problem is that Democrats never win over the mainstream media when they make serious proposals. So why not make silly proposals. The counterpoint argument is that Democrats never really win over the media with any ideas, period. So let’s make David Gregory interview John McCain and Lindsay Graham about even the possibility of the federal government minting a trillion dollar platinum coin. Just make them talk about it.

  149. 149
    Recall says:

    @MaximusNYC: Having Paulistas freak out over precious metal coinage is going to be half of the fun.

  150. 150
    Recall says:

    @Roger Moore: Or we could just print more bonds.

  151. 151
    Napoleon says:

    Doug J, every single word of your post is right. Unlike some here I really like Kevin drum, but on this he could not be more wrong, in fact so wrong he appears willing to make up out of thin air that its “obvious” that the coin is illegal (actually the opposite – the courts will not look at intent at all if the plain language of the law, like in this case, is not ambiguous).

  152. 152
    Napoleon says:

    @Joe Buck:

    Here’s the problem: even if it’s legal, the purpose of minting the trillion dollar coin is so you can borrow money against it.

    That is not at all what is being proposed. What they will do is mint the coin, deposit it in the US Gov’s main bank account which is at the NY Fed which they will credit to the account allowing the government to draw on the account.

  153. 153
    DougJ says:

    @MikeTheZ:

    It’s The Wiz, motherfucker.

  154. 154
    Napoleon says:

    @dollared:

    No, it doesn’t pay off the deficit. It establishes reserves that allow continued borrowing

    Jesus people like you are stupid.

  155. 155
    Napoleon says:

    Reading through threads like this make me realize that a good percentage of the people postings understanding of economics is on the level of advocating reading chicken guts to make predictions or using leaches to solve medical conditions. Just laughably disconnected to anything remotely connected to reality.

  156. 156
    'Niques says:

    I just have a question. Since we’ve already reached the debt limit, doesn’t Obama now have the duty of determining which bills get paid? Couldn’t he decide to forgo Congressional payroll? I know it won’t really hurt anyone in Congress, but I’m pretty sure it would make their heads explode.

  157. 157
    different-church-lady says:

    @eric: Infinity is a number, isn’t it?

  158. 158
    jefft452 says:

    @Napoleon: “on the level of advocating reading chicken guts to make predictions …”

    If they had read an Econ 101 text book, they would know that you’re supposed to use sheep entrails

    “…or using leaches to solve medical conditions”

    Otherwise known as the Austrian school

  159. 159
    xian says:

    @Jade Jordan: actually, even at CalPundit he was a center-right moderate driven to the liberal tribe by the craziness (kind of a proto-John Cole).

    Wasn’t he a finance guy? He definitely has some of those “fiscal conservative, social liberal” tells in all his work.

  160. 160
    xian says:

    @Heliopause: no, only low information people thought Obama held all the cards.

    Most well informed people knew Obama held a winning hand.

  161. 161
    xian says:

    @Ted & Hellen: this.

    totally agree Obama’s an establishmentarian. Also what we used to call a liberal (someone working for progress within the system), as opposed to a radical (someone, etymologically, interested in uprooting the system and replacing it).

  162. 162
    xian says:

    @PopeRatzo: “…and the sequester completely favors Dems because of the defense cuts.”

    well, no. The sequester half favors the Dems because of the defense cuts (except of course for some Dems, but they are balanced by some of the liberteapians, like Rand Aynpaul, who seem willing to cut the pentagon because budgets).

    The other half of the sequester favors the GOP because they are discretionary domestic cuts (although of course some of that would hit things Republicans like too).

    So, complicated.

  163. 163
    xian says:

    @Heliopause: “True, there is a contingent here that declares a Dem victory regardless of what happens.”

    Is that the same group that predicts what will happen and then is proven correct?

    As opposed to the group that changes the definition of victory situationally and moves the inevitable Obama betrayal up one Friedman unit each time?

  164. 164
    xian says:

    @Emma: no, no he just *tried* to do it, because that’s what he really wants to do.

  165. 165
    grooverider31 says:

    @gene108: “i’m tired of negotiating with this assclowns.”

    you can’t say it better. and i’m tired to negotiate with everyone else who doesn’t think the same way. and i wanna give those assclowns shite like never before. let’s print this coin, but it must be the 60 trillion one. don’t always go for the small solutions democrats.

  166. 166
    grooverider31 says:

    @Napoleon: austrian assclown, gfy.

Comments are closed.