With all the serious unknowns, minting a $1 trillion platinum coin seems an act of hubris.
At the risk of understating the obvious, the fact that we are having a discussion bordering on the serious over running the printing presses to pay our bills - i.e., minting a platinum coin of large dollar value - is troubling. And yet we are. Paul Krugman is enthusiastic in Friday's New York Times: "Mint that coin!" White House press secretary Jay Carney was even asked about minting a coin as a way to avoid negotiating a debt ceiling increase with Congress. Carney didn't rule out the possibility.
Donald Marron, head of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, seems to agree with the argument made by Bloomberg's Josh Barro and others: in the event that Congress and the president can't come to an agreement on raising the debt ceiling, the United States has limited options, all bad. "In this ugly group," writes Marron, "the platinum coin looks relatively shiny."
What are the options for the president in the event that a deal can't be reached with Congress?
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Michael R. Strain is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.