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Treasury says 'no' to trillion-dollar coin

January 12, 2013|By Don Lee
  • A $100 platinum coin. The idea was to mint one worth a trillion dollars.
A $100 platinum coin. The idea was to mint one worth a trillion dollars. (Associated Press )

WASHINGTON -- The trillion-dollar coin isn't going to save the day.

The U.S. Treasury says it won't mint the coin as a way of escaping the debt-ceiling crisis. The Federal Reserve also nixed the plan.

Even though the platinum coin idea started as something of a joke, it caught on in the blogosphere and gained some notable supporters such as Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman.

The plan envisioned the administration minting a platinum coin, then depositing it at the Fed to draw the trillion bucks to pay government bills should Congress fail to raise the debt ceiling. The nation is quickly coming up against its debt limit of $16.4 trillion.

But on Saturday, a Treasury spokesman said, "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."

With the platinum coin off the table, the White House chimed in Saturday, urging Congress to get to work.

"There are only two options to deal with the debt limit: Congress can pay its bills or it can fail to act and put the nation into default," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

The Obama administration also made no change in its opposition to invoking the 14th Amendment as another way to get around the debt problem. Some Democrats have suggested that the Constitution gives the president authority to borrow more on his own. They say that all legal maneuvers should be considered given congressional Republicans' objection to lifting the debt limit without deep spending cuts.

For now the Treasury is conserving cash and employing accounting tricks to avoid hitting the debt limit, but experts say it'll run out of maneuvering room by the end of next month.

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