11:24 am Jan. 7, 2013
The latest endorsement for the trillion-dollar coin idea comes from Paul Krugman, in a post titled "Be Ready to Mint that Coin."
According to Krugman, a standard-bearer for politically liberal economists, the coin would solve the nation's debt problem "while doing no economic harm at all."
The idea took off following Rep. Jerry Nadler's suggestion to me that the president use a provision allowing for the minting of platinum coins as a possible way around the Republicans' plan to bargain for federal cuts using the threat of refusing to raise the federal debt ceiling. Bloomberg's Josh Barro and Business Insider's Joseph Weisenthal helped the idea go viral, and its plausibility was endorsed by the former head of the U.S. Mint, who was there when the law allowing for the striking of platinum coins was passed.
It's highly unlikely that the trillion-dollar-coin will get so much as a serious response from the White House, which has been reluctant in the past to consider unilateral responses to the congressional Republicans' debt-ceiling threats; the coin idea would seem to be most useful as a sort of public teaching tool for the Democrats to point to the debt ceiling as an equally ridiculous negotiating device.
Krugman goes one step further, even.
"Given the realities of our political situation, and in particular the mixture of ruthlessness and craziness that now characterizes House Republicans, it’s just ridiculous — far more ridiculous than the notion of the coin," he writes.
At the moment, leading Republicans are trying to establish the premise that raising the debt ceiling would be a concession from their side, in exchange for new cuts to spending and entitlement programs. Until recently, Congress' ability to delay raising the debt ceiling and thereby trigger national default on debts was a technicality, and not used as leverage.
Krugman, for what it's worth, came to the same conclusion as Nadler did about who should actually be on the coin, if it's ever struck: House Speaker John Boehner, for his role in bringing it about.
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