If I had a dollar for each time someone has asked me about a $1 trillion coin in the past few weeks, I’d be perhaps a bit less annoyed by the topic.
Few mainstream news stories involving coins have been less connected to the actual collecting of coins than this one, yet the pure silliness of it has guaranteed sustained media attention.
The basic concept is that the federal debt limit can be avoided by having the U.S. Mint produce a single $1 trillion platinum coin that would be credited to the Treasury’s account at the Federal Reserve. The concept of a $1 trillion coin veers toward absurdity.
There’s a law, usually described as “obscure,” that gives the Treasury Department broad authority to produce platinum coins. Treasury spokesman Anthony Coley has stated, “Neither the Treasury Department nor the Federal Reserve believes that the law can or should be used to facilitate the production of platinum coins for the purpose of avoiding an increase in the debt limit.”
Lest our readers worry needlessly, an Oregon congressman has introduced legislation that would limit the face value of any of these coins to $200.
Even Heritage Auctions has announced a contest to name the proposed $1 trillion coin asking, “What would it be called? The Deficit Dollar? The Philly Trilly? Who or what should be pictured? What should it say? E Poorhouse Unum?”
Even Jon Stewart opined on the matter on The Daily Show, characterizing the matter as an attempt to “just make [expletive] up” and later clarified that he stood by his “ignorant conclusion that a trillion dollar coin minted to allow the president to circumvent the debt ceiling, however arbitrary that may be, is a stupid [expletive] idea.”