When it comes to debt ceiling crises, the craziest solution is to have President Joe Biden mint a $1 trillion coin.
The idea, which has been floating around for a decade, is that the president can issue a $1 trillion “commemorative” coin, deposit it with the Federal Reserve, and allow the government to continue paying its bills.
A default by the US government on its debt would be devastating to the economy, resulting in widespread job losses, higher interest rates, and long-term economic pain. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has predicted a “widespread economic catastrophe,” with millions of Americans suddenly strapped for cash.
If a deadlocked Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling in time, America will face that scenario. The $1 trillion coin solution has the potential to bypass Congress entirely.
The president does not have clear authority to issue commemorative coins, which are typically in the denominations of $10 or $5 and sold to coin collectors by the US Mint. One coin honoring the National Law Enforcement Memorial was released this year, as was another honoring Christa McAuliffe, the teacher killed when the Challenger space shuttle exploded in 1986.
Some supporters of the plan argue that because the value of the coins has no limit, a president has the clear authority to issue a $1 trillion or even a $100 trillion coin. Opponents argue that this would be such a massive overreach that it would warrant impeachment.
The Twitterverse is having a good time with the concept: From financial podcast hosts to recently retired baseball players, supporters abound. The White House, on the other hand, dismissed the idea outright, claiming that it is up to Congress to do its job and raise the debt ceiling as it has in the past.
“There is only one viable option to deal with the debt limit: Congress needs to increase or suspend it, as it has done approximately 80 times, including three times during the last Administration,” White House spokesman Mike Gwin told CNN, echoing a statement he previously made to Politico on the subject. The idea of issuing the coin is “not being considered,” he stated.
The idea of issuing the coin as a way of dealing with the debt ceiling was also dismissed by former President Barack Obama’s administration. However, in a final interview with Pod Save America, Obama admitted that the trillion-dollar coin idea was something he had discussed with then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.