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Trillion-Dollar Coin Is No-Go, White House Says

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Walden wants to close the loophole that would all the Treasury to mint a platinum coin of any value, even though the White House dismissed the “trillion dollar coin” idea.

The White House ruled out minting a trillion dollar platinum coin to defuse the crisis over the debt ceiling, saying Saturday that Congress must act to avert an unprecedented default.

“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,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in a statement that came shortly after a Treasury spokesman put the kibosh on the coin in a statement to The Washington Post.

“When Congressional Republicans played politics with this issue last time, putting us at the edge of default, it was a blow to our economic recovery, causing our nation’s credit rating to be downgraded,” Carney added. “The President and the American people won’t tolerate Congressional Republicans holding the American economy hostage again simply so they can force disastrous cuts to Medicare and other programs the middle class depend on while protecting the wealthy. Congress needs to do its job.”

Despite the announcement, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., tweeted his intent to continue his effort to pass legislation to close the platinum coin loophole. Under current law, the secretary of the Treasury can mint coins of any denomination as long as they are made of platinum.

The White House has rejected using the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which says the debt of the United States shall not be questioned, to unilaterally declare the debt ceiling invalid. Earlier this week, Carney declined to rule out the platinum coin idea. Senate Democratic leaders on Friday sent the president a letter urging him to raise the debt limit on his own, “without congressional approval.”

The pressure now will be on Congress to act. Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, has said he wants $1 in spending cuts for every $1 debt limit hike — a demand dubbed the Boehner Rule. But President Barack Obama has said he will not negotiate the issue. The last time the debt was held hostage by the GOP, in 2011, he warned that Social Security checks, as well as other federal payments, might not be issued.

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