But, never underestimate the power of obscure American laws! I somehow missed this yesterday - by way of TNR, we have from CNN the coolest way to solve the debt ceiling crisis:
Sovereign governments such as the United States can print new money. However, there's a statutory limit to the amount of paper currency that can be in circulation at any one time.
Ironically, there's no similar limit on the amount of coinage. A little-known statute gives the secretary of the Treasury the authority to issue platinum coins in any denomination. So some commentators have suggested that the Treasury create two $1 trillion coins, deposit them in its account in the Federal Reserve and write checks on the proceeds.
Matt Yglesias gives us the law on the matter:
Yes, it's just that crazy, cool, and simple. But why stop at 2? Why not mint 100 of the suckers and effectively give the Treasury enough borrowing authority to make the debt ceiling irrelevant for decades, if not forever?
I suspect at least some people would seriously freak out ("ZOMG INFLATION!!111!!1!"), and at least a few people would dream of swiping the coins, even though you wouldn't be able to do anything with them. Nevertheless, this is a simple, elegant, apparently completely legal solution that would take about an hour, needs no approval from Congress, and wouldn't end up with Obama getting impeached.
I like Jonathan Chait's moniker and hereby dub this the Montgomery Burns Solution:
Note: Based on a little quick feedback, I just want to clarify - I do NOT think this is the best solution to the crisis. However, if Congress refuses to act, I think a more ... "creative" solution, such as this one or "the constitutional option" would probably cause less harm than a U.S. default. The best solution to this "crisis" would be for Congress simply to raise the debt ceiling, cleanly - it would take them about 5 minutes.