Large-denomination-coin enthusiasts rejoiced this afternoon after White House Press Secretary Jay Carney did not definitively rule out the minting of a trillion-dollar platinum coin in the event that the GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling.
“The option here is for Congress to do its job and pay its bills,” Carney said, evading the question, which was courageously posed by Chuck Todd’s goatee.
Pressed on whether he believes the administration has the power to use the coin option if it so chooses, Carney continued to dodge. “There is no Plan B,” he said. “There is no back-up plan. There is Congress’s responsibility to pay the bills of the United States.” Carney was asked a few more times whether he was shooting down The Coin once and for all, he repeatedly refused to provide a straightforward answer.
Carney’s response shouldn’t come as a surprise. The White House can’t admit that it might be willing to #MintTheCoin, because then the GOP would have no incentive to raise the debt ceiling itself. The Republicans would love for Obama to go the coin route. It would absolve them of responsibility for raising the debt ceiling while also allowing them to portray Obama as a power-mad dictator, two of their favorite things in the world.
At the same time, if the GOP can’t be convinced to raise the debt ceiling — we don’t think it will come to this, but with these guys, you never know — minting the coin, as unseemly as the White House may find it, could be the only way to stave off economic calamity. So the White House can’t exactly take it 100 percent off the table.
That leaves the White House with one option when it comes to discussing The Coin: Don’t.