What The Simpsons Taught Us About the Dangers of a Trillion-Dollar Platinum Coin

Earlier, DI Chait suggested that there really is no good reason for the Treasury not to mint a single trillion-dollar platinum coin if the GOP once again refuses to raise the debt ceiling. Others, such as Bloomberg News’s Josh Barro, agree. Yes, the idea is kind of ridiculous, but so is holding the economy hostage because you refuse to pay for things you’ve already bought, the thinking goes. Fight fire with fire, the only way to stop a bad guy with a crazy idea is a good guy with a crazy idea, etc.

However, we suggest that there is one pitfall to the platinum-coin scenario that has gone overlooked — a pitfall that was forewarned by “The Trouble With Trillions,” a 1998 episode of The Simpsons.

In “Trillions,” Homer is pressured into working as an IRS narc after his predictably horrendous tax returns are audited. The IRS assigns him the task of going undercover to gather intel on a one-of-a-kind trillion-dollar bill that was created to aid Europe after World War II, but was stolen by Mr. Burns.

Homer’s mission is a success: The IRS nabs the bill and arrests Burns. But Homer has a change of heart and saves Burns, and the bill. They (along with Smithers) flee to Cuba, which they hope to buy. The plan unravels when they meet with Fidel Castro:

In short, if we mint a trillion-dollar platinum coin, it could be stolen by an evil billionaire megalomaniac and then accidentally handed over to Fidel Castro. Are there ways to prevent this from happening? Perhaps. But it’s not worth the risk. Say no to the trillion-dollar platinum coin.

The Simpsons Warns Against Trillion-Dollar Coin