Requiescat In Platinum

« January 2013 »

Memo to Obama, the Treasury, and the Fed: WISE IS NOT SMART.

So, by all accounts, with a month to six weeks remaining in the debt ceiling fight, the Obama administration, the Treasury Department, and the Federal Reserve have all said the trillion dollar platinum coin will not happen. This is probably correct policy, but it's awful fucking tactics.

You must know about the platinum coin gambit by now. There's a law that lets the Treasury mint platinum coins in any denomination. So in the event that the Republicans take the debt ceiling hostage, the Treasury prints a trillion dollar coin, deposits it in the Fed, and the debt ceiling gets a reprieve.

There's a second level to it, in which, after the expected outcry, Obama swaps the platinum coin loophole for the debt ceiling, taking both them out of the picture in the future and letting the government run a bit more like a bunch of fucking adults. But that's not gonna happen.

People have raised a variety of objections to the platinum coin idea. A few of them are valid, at least in the sense that they're having a little Internet trial before the plan ends up before the actual courts to determine the strict legality of the loophole. It's a waste of time, but at least it's wonky and factual.

The other objection is that it would be unseemly and petty and not befitting of the dignity of the American government, but that's because there are a bunch of pundits and politicians that would jump off a fucking bridge tomorrow if they let themselves realize the true nature of the horrorshow they're enmeshed in. So fuck them.

Basically, Obama and the House Republicans are in prison together. Obama knows the Republicans are crazy. If Obama wants to survive in prison with a bunch of crazy people, he has to convince them he's just as crazy and dangerous to them as they are to him.

And yes, it's a politically tricky line to walk - seeming crazy to the GOP while seeming sane to the rest of the country, but the platinum coin was a really ideal opportunity to do this. It's a nerdy workaround to avert disaster. It's a political MacGyvering to stop economic terrorism. Willing people could sell that shit, but clearly these people are not willing.

And even if you don't want to do it, and have no intention of doing it, DON'T SAY SO THIS EARLY. Hold that shit in reserve. Keep them guessing. At the very least, keeping one hand behind your back during the negotiations will keep them thinking there's a platinum shiv in it. Maybe the guards took it away from you, but they don't know that. Keep it that way.

Because we're all going to remember how Obama said he wouldn't negotiate on the debt ceiling when he negotiates on the debt ceiling.