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The Legality of #mintthecoin


I have a piece up at the Prospect explaining in more detail that the trillion dollar platinum coin is 1)unambiguously legal, and 2)is preferable to allowing the GOP to either shoot the hostage and crash the economy or to make this hostage-taking an institutionalized feature of the American political system.

The argument that the platinum coin is illegal, then, must rely not on technical legal arguments but on arguments that the coin would violate settled norms of presidential behavior. But Congress using the debt ceiling for blackmail also violates long-established norms. When choosing between unprecedented innovations, it seems obvious that the one that ends a constitutional crisis is infinitely preferable to the one that would make constitutional crises an entrenched institutional feature that may result in economic disaster. I agree that norms are important, and that we should not always rely on hyperformalist readings of the law when they violate settled norms of behavior. But in the context of a minority party transforming what has always been a symbolic vote into a yearly threat to destroy the functioning of the American government, it’s difficult to take the argument that norms should preclude a lawful but unprecedented response from the Obama administration seriously.

There’s an even bigger problem with Drum’s argument. The Obama administration minting a trillion-dollar platinum coin would not violate the law. Complying with a refusal to lift the debt ceiling, however, would require Obama to violate the law.

Krugman has more.

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