Paul Krugman's Friday column for the New York Times, "Coins Against Crazies," announces his support of a bizarre-sounding budget solution taken up mostly on the left: A trillion-dollar platinum coin that would supposedly avoid the looming problem of the debt ceiling. But more offensive than Krugman's nodding along with this unlikely idea is his referring to Republicans as terrorists.
PIMCO chief executive Mohamed El-Erian explained the platinum coin idea: "Under legal authority it already has (which is meant for decorative coins), the U.S. Treasury would issue to itself a very large platinum coin -- say a single, trillion dollar denomination. The coin would be deposited in the Treasury's account at the Federal Reserve. Against this 'credit,' the Treasury would withdraw from the central bank more conventional forms of money and use them to meet payments obligations that have already been approved by law....The key here is that the Treasury would raise money without borrowing. Thus, the increasingly binding debt limit would not apply...."
Krugman signed on, at least in theory, since it would neutralize the Republicans who are using the debt ceiling like a madman with a bomb strapped to his chest. (Didn't know the debt-ceiling debate could escalate like that, did you?)
So, have you heard the one about the trillion-dollar coin? It may sound like a joke. But if we aren’t ready to mint that coin or take some equivalent action, the joke will be on us -- and a very sick joke it will be, too.
After contemplating "the vile absurdity of the debt-ceiling confrontation," Krugman hammered home "the vileness of that G.O.P. threat. If we were to hit the debt ceiling, the U.S. government would end up defaulting on many of its obligations. This would have disastrous effects on financial markets, the economy, and our standing in the world."
Republicans go wild at this analogy, but it’s unavoidable. This is exactly like someone walking into a crowded room, announcing that he has a bomb strapped to his chest, and threatening to set that bomb off unless his demands are met.
Which brings us to the coin.
Can't imagine why Republicans would be offended at being compared to a mad bomber. Krugman wasn't even done with the hostage metaphors, concluding with a call to coinage.
Or, best of all, there might be enough sane Republicans that the party will blink and stop making destructive threats.
Unless this last possibility materializes, however, it’s the president’s duty to do whatever it takes, no matter how offbeat or silly it may sound, to defuse this hostage situation. Mint that coin!
Krugman also suggested conservatives want people to die in an interview with CNN's Gloria Borger that aired September 25, 2011: "To be a little melodramatic, the voucher would kill people, no question....The cuts in Medicare that he’s proposing, the replacement of Medicare by a voucher system, would in the end mean that tens of millions of older Americans would not be able to afford essential health care. So that counts as cruelty to me."
-- Clay Waters is Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch site.