Posted Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, at 2:06 PM
Mounting a mix of bad and good arguments, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) says the platinum coin loophole is absurd and Congress should close it. And of course it is absurd, and Congress should close it. But the statutory debt ceiling is also absurd, and Congress should do away with it. Josh Barro has proposed a sensible swap—Obama should offer to sign a bill that eliminates the debt ceiling and closes the loophole, thus putting the United States government finances on sensible footing.
This, incidentally, is why Kevin Drum's platinum coin pearl-clutching is so wrongheaded.
Obviously financing the government by exploiting an accidental loophole in a bill meant to create commemorative coins is a bad idea. But it's equally obvious that forcing the executive branch to default on legally valid bills is also a bad idea. And if Obama once again evades default by making substantive policy concessions to House Republicans, then he's going to normalize this hostage-taking process. Putting some other nutty ideas on the table, by contrast, might actually get us back to normal.