Debt Ceiling Debate Solution: Mint a $1 Trillion Coin

by: Cullen Roche

A reader points out a very interesting loophole in the debt ceiling debate that would give the US Treasury the ability to tell the US Congress to take its fear-mongering and shove it you-know-where. Reader “Beowulf” notes:

No, Tsy isn’t authorized to just “print” money, the Federal Reserve Act gives that power to the Fed. However, the Coinage Act grants the Secretary of the Treasury rather broad coin seigniorage authority. Geithner could sidestep the debt ceiling this afternoon by ordering the West Point Mint to coin a 1 oz. $ 1 trillion coin. Tsy can then present the jumbo coins at the NY Fed to buy back $1 trillion in Fed-held debt (the Fed has to accept it, a creditor can’t refuse legal tender paid in to settle a debt):

(h) The coins issued under this title shall be legal tender … (k) The Secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.

The simple threat of doing this would end this debate right here and right now. It’s time for Congress to stop playing Russian Roulette with the US economy. If you want to take a stand on spending, then do so before you pass legislation that causes us to run up into the debt ceiling. Don’t use some phony law to try to scare people into thinking that we are Greece (something that’s entirely impossible, anyhow).