Today I launch my official campaign to get Bruce Springsteen on the $1 Trillion coin that President Obama will have to have the Treasury mint and deposit at the Fed.
Let me first say that while it is certainly a preposterous idea to mint a trillion dollar coin so that the government can pay its bills, the more preposterous idea is to keep playing games of chicken with the debt ceiling every two years and allowing the Jihadi wing of the Republican party take the world economy hostage.
Obama has to go down this road, and he shouldn’t blink or think twice. Republicans set a truly terrifying precedent in 2011 by opening up this can of worms, and now he has to set a precedent that allows presidents to circumvent lunatic congressional minorities who want to use whatever meager power they have to extract concessions rather than win elections, who are ready to strap an economic bomb to their chests and set it off without a second thought. The problem is that the Republicans will probably have a majority in the House for the rest of the decade because the Tea Party tidal wave of 2010 turned so many state houses red. These state houses then redrew district lines and gerrymandered their states for maximum Republican representation. In Pennsylvania for instance, a state where Obama handily beat Mitt Romney, Democrats won only five of 18 House seats.
Furthermore, all these gerrymandered seats nationwide are highly safe for Republicans so the only possibility of losing the seat is to lose to an even more rabid true-believer. In other words, voters will reward those politicians who promise to default on the debt and set the bomb off. It’s a case of some truly nasty incentives, and President Obama cannot allow himself or his successor to have this potentially disastrous negotiation every two years until 2020 when its possible to undo some of the damage wrought by 2010. He has to shut it down now.
So while minting a trillion dollar coin kinda goes to demonstrate the hilarious abstractedness of money, it at least has unmasked a lot of really stupid commentary—people writing things like, “The $1 trillion coin would take so much platinum it would sink the Titanic!” was one of the egregiously stupid things I saw on Twitter. (That’s like saying “The hundred dollar bill would take so much paper it would take up two rooms in the Library of Congress!”)
With all that said, President Obama, mint the coin and keep ‘em coming until a sane, rational congress reappears and does away with this idiotic debt ceiling mechanism.
But can we get Bruce Springsteen on that coin? Think about it: American icon, rock legend, a strong Obama supporter. The only question is what version do we want? 1980s American flag headband and jean jacket Springsteen? Latter-day soul patch Springsteen? Or how about scruffy, scrawny, ratty clothes, unknown, ‘70s Springsteen? That last one might be the ticket.
As far as the flip side of the coin, I’m not sure. Maybe a big middle finger to the debt ceiling default crew.