Why the platinum coin is off the table

January 14, 2013

Even amid reports that Republicans are willing to let the U.S. default on its debt, the Treasury Department eliminated one controversial option to avoid doing so by saying Saturday that it would not mint a trillion-dollar platinum coin

“Neither the Treasury Department nor the Federal Reserve believes that the law can or should be used to facilitate the production of platinum coins for the purpose of avoiding an increase in the debt limit,” Treasury spokesman Anthony Coley told Wonkblog's Ezra Klein 

The platinum coin option is favored by some liberals seeking to avoid a showdown with House Republicans, some of whom appear willing to force a government shutdown by refusing to agree to an increase. Under this scenario, the Treasury would mint two platinum coins and cash them at the Federal Reserve, using the money to pay down the debt. Democrats who favored the idea expressed disappointment in the Obama administration for dismissing it. 

"It's really a shame that the administration is ruling out one of the very few bargaining chips it has with Republican extremists who are intent, once again, on using the debt ceiling as a means of political blackmail," said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who was a proponent of the coin solution. 

President Obama will hold a news conference at 11:30 on the approaching deadline to raise the debt ceiling.

Natalie Jennings is a Web producer for PostTV.
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