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Change of plan: Treasury rules out trillion-dollar platinum coin


It’s not entirely clear whether the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein meant that he had some really big news to share about a coin, or if he had some news to share about a really big coin. It doesn’t really matter at this point, as the Treasury has ruled out the possibility of minting a trillion-dollar platinum coin as a means of ducking the nation’s debt ceiling. Anthony Coley, a spokesman for the Treasury Department, said the Treasury would not mint the coin, nor would the Federal Reserve accept it.

Treasury Spox Anthony Coley: “Neither the Treasury Department nor the Federal Reserve believes that the law can or should be used…

— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) January 12, 2013

…to facilitate the production of platinum coins for the purpose of avoiding an increase in the debt limit.”

— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) January 12, 2013

Is that news? It seems so, as a lot of people were taking the idea very, very seriously despite the humorous suggestions for just whose face should be on such a coin. A #mintthecoin hashtag has been going strong for over a week in the wake of the New Year’s wrangling over the fiscal cliff. And check out this tweet from the Huffington Post:

Six ridiculous ideas surrounding the trillion-dollar coin huff.to/VubOtn

— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) January 12, 2013

That’s right. It’s an article on six ridiculous ideas surrounding the trillion-dollar coin.

In a piece on the Post’s Wonkblog, Klein notes that although the coin enjoyed high-profile support from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Paul Krugman, he himself had reservations.

But others, including myself, worried that the coin would be seen as an unprecedented power grab by the president, leading to a far more bitter standoff over the debt ceiling, a possible panic in the financial markets and a showdown in the courts. There was also the simple fact that it would, indeed, represent an admission that the government’s executive and legislative branches could no longer be trusted to come together and effectively manage the country’s finances.

The public seemed split on the idea as well. The fact that the coin was the subject of a poll at all shows how much traction the idea had gained, but those polled were largely opposed to the idea.

Public opinion running about 5:1 against the Trillion Dollar Coin on the first night of our Florida poll among those with an opinion on it

— PublicPolicyPolling (@ppppolls) January 12, 2013

How does everyone else feel?

Treasury confirming they’re not minting a trillion dollar coin is like the White House responding to a Death Star petition.

— Anthony De Rosa (@AntDeRosa) January 12, 2013

Or like CDC explaining zombie invasion can’t happen. “@antderosa: Treasury confirming no trillion coin like WH responding to a DeathStar…”

— Scott Thill (@morphizm) January 12, 2013

I liked the $1 trillion coin idea, but it would have been HATED by voters, IMO. better not to do it, politically

— Greg Lewis (@gregdlewis) January 12, 2013

Shocked, SHOCKED that the Treasury has ruled out using a $1 trillion coin to avert the debt ceiling. It seemed like such a rational idea.

— Dan Stewart (@thatdanstewart) January 12, 2013

No trillion dollar coin because we must keep the illusion that money means something and our economy isn’t based on nonsense.

— The Bat Country Word (@BatCountryWord) January 12, 2013

Let me add that if Obama had tried the platinum coin gambit, the it would have put the Fed in a very very uncomfortable place. (more)

— Neil Irwin (@Neil_Irwin) January 12, 2013

Fed would have faced both a threat to its primacy over monetary policy and been at the center of a constitutional showdown, all at once.

— Neil Irwin (@Neil_Irwin) January 12, 2013

I honestly can’t tell you how disappointed I am that the trillion dollar coin option is off the table. #poliscimajorproblems

— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) January 12, 2013

I am sorry the platinum coin folly is over. I was hoping it would rise to the level of the Dutch tulip mania of the 1630’s.

— Roger Simon (@politicoroger) January 12, 2013

Reaction on Twitter to coin news is kinda like when a 5-year-old realizes he won’t be getting actual space shuttle he wanted to X-mas.

— Alex Parker (@AlexParkerDC) January 12, 2013

What option’s next if the $1 trillion coin has officially been ruled out?

Just thinking out loud here.Since the trillion-dollar coin is out, how about a trillion-dollar stamp?

— Bill Harnsberger (@BillinPortland) January 12, 2013

psst, @businessinsider, time to introduce the $2 trillion coin idea.

— ReboilRoom (@ReboilRoom) January 12, 2013

Or cut spending? Is that so crazy?

* * *

Update: Taking the trillion-dollar coin off of the table has shifted the blame for the nation’s economic woes back to — shocker — the House GOP. The Huffington Post received the following statement from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney:

There are only two options to deal with the debt limit: Congress can pay its bills or they can fail to act and put the nation into default. When Congressional Republicans played politics with this issue last time putting us at the edge of default, it was a blow to our economic recovery, causing our nation to be downgraded. 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. Congress needs to do its job.

Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal, perhaps the trillion-dollar coin’s biggest fan, is going out drinking with other “coiners.”

Fact. Any NYC coiners, ping me.RT @pegobry: I think @thestalwart‘s going to need a stiff drink tonight.

— Joseph Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) January 12, 2013

So, the media loons pushing the stupid Trillion Dollar Coin idea are going to throw a tantrum over Obama saying no? LOLOL

— RB (@RBPundit) January 12, 2013


Read more: http://twitchy.com/2013/01/12/change-of-plan-treasury-rules-out-trillion-dollar-platinum-coin/

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