January 9, 2013

At today’s press briefing, White House press secretary Jay Carney finally commented on the “platinum coin.” Because he did not adamantly rule out ever minting one, this is being widely reported as Carney “not ruling out” the platinum coin option.

Republicans are attacking the White House as unserious for refusing to rule out a gimmick, and the pro-coin forces are noting that the White House decidedly did not take the coin off the table, as it has done with the 14th amendment option.

Count me skeptical. It seems to me that Carney was simply declining to take a position on whether such a measure would even be legal.

Politico has the video. Asked about the coin, Carney said: “The option here is for Congress to pay its bills — bills that have already been racked up.” Then came this exchange with Chuck Todd:

TODD: Do you believe you have the power to mint a trillion dollar coin?

CARNEY: There is no Plan B, there is just Congress’ responsibility to pay the bills of the United States.

All that Carney is saying is that the White House isn’t even engaging the question of whether the coin is a viable or legal option. More broadly, his response is just in keeping with the White House’s overall posture, which is that the debt ceiling is Congress’ problem — period, full stop — and that there’s really no need to discuss the matter further.

Yes, I guess this constitutes “not ruling out” use of the coin, but it just doesn’t seem like there’s anything here.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.