Readers are doubtless familiar with suggestions being bruited about in Washington that the Administration can simply mint a few platinum coins, assign them a face value of $1 trillion each, and use them as 'money' to increase the national debt - thereby bypassing Congress and the debt limit. (We spoke about this in passing last night.)
Megan McArdle, writing at the Daily Beast, skewers this absurd notion beautifully. I've seldom read a better rant in the mainstream media. Here are a few excerpts.
The trillion dollar platinum [coin] is an absurdity wrapped in a legislative incongruity inside a farce. It is the logical extension of an utterly illogical legislative process that only becomes more irrational with each passing day. Each partisan battle has become stupider than the last. Silly loopholes are exploited for bargaining power, and the resulting stalemates are generally solved with a temporary patch that solves the immediate problem by creating a bigger one down the road. When the bigger problem arrives, naturally the other side seeks an even sillier loophole, resulting in an even more temporary patch.
. . .
The Great Platinum Coin Caper is everything that is wrong with Washington: a stupid partisan maneuver that erodes the institutions of our government for no gain other than an immediate political win. The only good thing that can be said about it is that the President seems to be too sensible to actually consider doing it. Nonetheless, the fact that intelligent people like Professor Krugman are even discussing this debacle, much less endorsing it, is a depressing reminder of just how nasty and short-sighted our nation’s capital has become.
When I was reporting on Wall Street, I used to be told with some regularity that government was needed to counteract the short-term thinking of the business sector, who never thought much beyond the next quarterly earnings report. This now seems as quaintly adorable as picture hats and daily milk deliveries. An ADHD day trader with a cocaine habit and six months to live has considerably more long-term planning skills than our current congress.
. . .
Legislators are no longer thinking ahead even as far as the next election; all their focus is on the next Pyrrhic victory. The very worst thing about this stupid platinum coin idea is that it's the most practical, results-oriented solution that has so far been suggested for our current problems.
There's more at the link. Go read, and enjoy!