But it’s a bad idea. As wacky as the House GOP’s idea is of using the debt ceiling as a hostage-taking weapon, this is no answer. Their intransigence shouldn’t be met by an equally unprecedented move.
As bad as the House behavior has been, using a small legal provision meant to please numismatists to leverage the nation’s debts seems, um, risky. The only analogy I can think of is the Court-packing mess of the 1930s when President Roosevelt, faced with a cranky Supreme Court that overturned his social-welfare programs and those in the states, tried to enlarge the size of the Court to fill it with more sympathetic appointees. After an outcry, the president backed down. But FDR at least tried to make the change by proposing a statute and forcing a Senate debate. (The bill never cleared the chamber.)
Minting the coins would seem even more imperious. After all, the Supreme Court in the 1930s was knocking down state minimum-wage laws and other expressions of the popular will. FDR had some momentum behind him. But President Obama would look despotic if he embraced this tactic. (Imagine all the pictures of King Obama on a coin.)…
…The administration earlier this year showed good sense in begging off another legal cul de sac—the 14th Amendment—to just ignore Congress on the debt ceiling. (See Jay Carney’s response to that.) President Clinton, on the other hand, argued for using the 14th Amendment option as a weapon. At least the 14th Amendment option would give the president some constitutional imprimatur, unlike minting up some coins.
In the end, just beating the House Republicans the old-fashioned way is the president’s best course.
Not to mention that the Simpsons already did this. Homer tried to buy a soda in a vending machine with it, and he and Mr. Burns escape with it to Cuba: