11:26 am Jan. 16, 20131
Two weeks after Rep. Jerry Nadler touched off a boom of speculation about a trillion-dollar coin, he's still looking for a way around the debt ceiling.
Nadler told Capital earlier this month that the president should consider minting a platinum coin worth one trillion dollars, in order to avoid being held hostage by House Republicans who have signaled they intend to extract deep spending cuts to authorize payment of the nation's bills.
That suggestion, first floated on liberal economic blogs, gained enough traction that the Treasury felt compelled to rule out the possibility this weekend.
The White House's position is that there is no work-around to raising the debt ceiling, a stance intended to keep pressure squarely on the congressional Republicans to do so or suffer the political consequences of triggering an economic crisis.
This morning, at a press conference in Washington with five of his fellow House Democrats, Nadler will put forward a less fanciful-sounding but almost equally unlikely solution: abolishing the debt ceiling altogether.
“We cannot allow our economy to be threatened every year by political extremists intent on exploiting the debt ceiling to force through massive cuts and so-called entitlement reform,” said Nadler in the press release. “The debt ceiling is arbitrary, doesn’t affect the deficit, and serves no real function in keeping spending down – and it’s time to abolish it. Only then will we be certain to pay our bills on time and take away from extremists this tool for political blackmail.”
Nadler didn't do many interviews during the furor over the coin, but seems more comfortable arguing for the debt ceiling's elimination.
He called the debt ceiling's irrelevance to spending a "stubbornly well-kept secret" in the lead to an op-ed in The Hill last week titled "The debt ceiling must go."
(Nadler didn't mention the coin in the piece, even though the idea was still in circulation at the time.)
House Republicans are, of course, unlikely to legislate away their primary bargaining chip, but Democrats are hoping to increase the pressure on them not to engage in the kind of brinksmanship that led to a credit downgrade last year.
Nadler has previously suggested that the president should at least consider using his powers under the Fourteenth Amendment to unilaterally pay the nation's bill, though he's conceded the legal arguments are uncertain.
That idea has been gaining traction lately too.
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